The 1987 World Sports Car Championship would continue a trend that began in the latter half of 1986. Jaguar and Porsche would continue to battle, but there was a new sheriff in town, in WSC. March in Madrid, as the 1987 campaign for the World Sports Car Championship gets underway in earnest, in Spain. This will be a campaign that will run all the way through late September in Japan.
41,000 eager spectators await the start of the season, as Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes, and others, are set to do battle with the latest, great iterations of their sleek, powerful, speedy Group C prototype machines. Silk Cut Jaguar, after being snookered for the drivers’ and teams’ championships in 1986, they are out to earn those crowns fair and square this time. We are ready to race at Jarama, and guess what? The Jaguars are right across the front row of this 17 car field for the season opener. On the pole is the #4 Jaguar XJR-8 in the hands of American Eddie Cheever and Brazilian Raul Boesel. Flanking them on the front row, is their team car, the #5 Jaguar shared by Dutchman Jan Lammers, and new recruit to the team, Northern Ireland’s John Watson, a five-time race winner in Formula 1.
The cars come off the final corner here at Jarama, Tunel, the 13th turn, and we’re ready for a start! Green lights, on! Away we go! The Jaguar’s are showing their fangs immediately, leading right off the start of the motor race. Hans Stuck gets bogged down on the grid in the single factory Porsche 962, car #17 he is sharing with Derek Bell. They are running too rich a fuel mixture at the start. Jaguar’s out front at this stage. Eddie Cheever leads the way over Jan Lammers. In third spot, Italian Mauro Baldi at the wheel of the #15 Britten-Lloyd Racing Liqui Moly Porsche 962C GTi, sharing with Britain’s Dr. Jonathan Palmer, who we haven’t seen as frequently in Group C in the last couple years.
The Group C2 cars come up behind their bigger, more powerful C1 brethren. SwiftAir Ecosse are just as eager to beat the Spice Engineering team, as Jaguar are to beat Porsche this year. Rivalries are already developing. The chaps from Coventry, in England, have not won since their home race at Silverstone, last year, their only win of 1986. So, they are out in force in ’87 and want to be at or near the top of the tree. The beautiful Jaguar’s with their 7 liter, 2 valve Single Overhead Cam V12 engines are the only atmospheric cars entered, the only cars that do not run turbochargers. The C2 battles continue where they left off in ’86, but there are new contenders as well, such as the #123 Charles Ivey Racing Tiga Porsche.
The Ivey owned car is running a variant on the 935/962 2.7 liter flat six motor with a single turbocharger. Brits Dudley Wood and Mark Newby will share the driving chores. Jaguar are not just leading, they are whistling off into the distance. Mauro Baldi has his hands full with some of the other Porsche’s. He has the #3 Fortuna liveried Brun Porsche 962C of Oscar Larrauri and Jesus Pareja, as well as the aforementioned Rothmans racer, right up his tailpipe. Stuck is up to fourth, charging after his delay. Eddie Cheever, who comes out of Formula 1, and would later be very successful in IndyCar, eventually winning the Indianapolis 500, the Jaguar chassis suits his driving style to a T.
For Spaniard Fermin Velez, he has had a great start to ’87, leading the C2 division in the factory Spice Engineering Spice Cosworth that he shares with car builder/team owner, Gordon Spice. This year, they have Danone yogurt sponsorship. Spice lost the C2 championship cup by a mere two points last year. They want to be competitive in ’87. Meanwhile, we’ve had position swaps as Oscar Larrauri has gone around Jan Lammers, and Hans Stuck is also waiting for his opportunity to apply the blowtorch and pass the Dutchman. “The Flying Dutchman” will keep the Bavarian Bandit, Hans Stuck, at bay, as the Jaguars have instant power from their monstrous V12 engines compared to the turbo Porsche’s which have to spool up before… zing!, you have all the power you’d ever want.
For Hans Stuck, 1987 will be his best chance yet to go for the driver’s title. His co-driver, Derek Bell won it in 1986, but now they are chasing it together. Pit stop time at the mid-point in this motor race, and Jan Lammers hands the car over to John Watson to take it to the finish. This race after all, is a sprint. It’s 360 kilometers (225 miles). The sister Jaguar, car #4 in the hands of Brazilian Raul Boesel and Eddie Cheever, has been delayed with an oil leak. Hans Stuck, meanwhile, has made his way to second overall. Despite the oil issues, and an early visit to the pit lane, Raul Boesel has now managed to take the lead of this motor race.
Likewise for the factory Porsche, its pit stop time and Derek Bell takes over behind the wheel. But, it’s been all Jaguar so far, and they resume their 1-2 formation. Bell goes back out on track, as John Watson passes the Porsche which is still trundling down pit lane. Watson is running second in his first race for Silk Cut Jaguar. But, Derek Bell demotes Watson to third spot. The Liqui Moly Porsche #14 is now fourth, as they’ve made a pit stop, and Johnny Palmer has taken over from Mauro Baldi. Boesel had to have a second stop for a splash and a dash. Derek Bell and John Watson have been friends for a long time, and are neighbors in Sussex, England, but they are fierce rivals on the sports car racing circuit. Porsche team manager Peter Falk has calculated the fuel mileage, predicting that Porsche can win this sprint race.
But, Porsche missed one thing. John Watson is a tenacious driver, and he goes around the Porsche, taking the big cat to the win, in Spain! He wins over Bell by just two seconds. Oscar Larrauri and Jesus Pareja will finish sixth for Brun in their 962C. Swiftair Ecosse will come second in the C2 class as the Ecosse was not quick enough to challenge the Danone Spice. Volker Weidler of Germany has the #10 Kremer Porsche Racing Porsche 962C. The German shares with Dane Kris Nissen, and they are hot on the heels of the #2 Brun Porsche 962C in the hands of the Italian duo of Massimo Sigala and Gianfranco Brancatelli.
Poor Jonathan Palmer! The Liqui Moly Porsche blows a tire, and stops on the front straight. Palmer and Baldi can only muster an eighth place finish. It’s going to be a win for Jaguar here at Jarama, as John Watson and Jan Lammers triumph. The earlier argy bargy between Palmer and Watson is evident on the Jaguar’s fender skirt and that’s probably the cause of Palmer’s flat tire as well. Bell can’t close the gap and he’ll settle for second behind Watson. Gordon Spice and Fermin Velez are your C2 winners.
- #5 Lammers/Watson Jaguar XJR8 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #17 Stuck/Bell Porsche 962C Rothmans Porsche
- #4 Cheever/Boesel Jaguar XJR8 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #10 Weidler/Nissen Porsche 962C Kremer Porsche Racing
- #3 Larrauri/Pareja Porsche 962C Brun Motorsport
- #2 Sigala/Brancatelli Porsche 962C Brun Motorsport
- #1 Jelinski/Brun Porsche 962C Brun Motorsport
- #15 Baldi/Palmer Porsche 962C Britten-Lloyd Racing
- #111 Velez/Spice Spice SE86C Ford Cosworth Spice Engineering*
- #11 de Villota/Romero Porsche 962C Porsche Kremer Racing
*C2 winning team
You will notice the C2 winners finishing in the top ten. Next up, the WSC stays in Spain, and heads to Jerez de la Frontera circuit, the next weekend.