The world’s fastest Formula 1 circuit plays host once again to sports cars, and Jaguar looks to repeat their 1986 victory in the green fields of Jolly Old, among the Norman churches. The turbocharged cars have the upper hand over the V12s on this fast circuit, with not only Porsche, but the elephant in the room, is Mercedes, making their first appearance of the ’87 campaign. Some notable cars did not make the race at Silverstone. Neither of the Joest Porsche’s are here and there was supposed to be a new Lamborghini Countach QVX built by Tiga as a C1 car with a 5.7 liter V12. But that car didn’t show up.
Neither did a proposed Tiga C1 car with a turbocharged version of the 3.3 liter Ford Cosworth V8 for James Weaver and Tim Lee-Davey, both Brits. Weaver ended up driving in Richard Cleare’s #21 March 85G Porsche, alongside Cleare, and Andrew Gilbert-Scott. It’s an all British squad in that automobile. We’re ready to race at Silverstone, with a front row of Hans Stuck in the Porsche, and at his elbow, the V8 thunder of the #61 Sauber C9 Mercedes in the hands of Brit Mike Thackwell and four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Frenchman Henri Pescarolo.
Mercedes and Porsche topped everyone else in qualifying. How will the race come out? We’re about to find out. It’s lights out, and we’re racing in England! 26 C1 and C2 cars are unleashed on this airfield circuit. Mercedes takes the lead here at Silverstone! Don’t forget, Pescarolo and Thackwell won that bizarre race in soggy conditions at the Nurburgring last year. The order is Mike Thackwell, Hans Stuck, Jan Lammers, and Eddie Cheever. Gordon Spice leads C2 already. Mercedes have barged in, and they’ve upset the apple cart here, thundering away from Porsche and Jaguar.
A third Jaguar is also in this race, car #6 running in low downforce trim for the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month. Martin Brundle is sharing with John Nielsen in the #6 automobile. The order remains Thackwell, Stuck, Cheever, and the Mercedes is schooling everybody else right now on the ultra-fast Silverstone circuit. In the meantime, the Jaguar’s have pounced on a drowsy Hans Stuck as he loses a spot to them both, in the blink of an eye. Now, in C2, Spice still lead. But it isn’t the factory car. It isn’t the Danone yogurt, REDEX, Holt’s machine driven by Spice and Velez.
Instead, it is the #127 Hart powered Chamberlain Engineering Spice of Nick Adams in his home race, and South African Graham Duxbury. You haven’t missed much at the front. Thackwell, Cheever, Lammers, and Stuck are at the top of the tree, as Stuck struggles to stay with the V8s and V12s. The Porsche turbo flat six in the 962 is being outgunned today. Spice is all over Nick Adams like old el cheapo suito here, but it isn’t working so far. Mike Wilds has put the Swiftair Ecosse into third in class. That is the #101 car he is sharing this weekend with Scottish Earl Johnny Dumfries.
Cheever is making inroads on the Mercedes while Hans Stuck is waiting and watching, biding his time. The Mercedes is carving through the back markers like the proverbial hot knife through butter, but Cheever is closing, and fast. Stuck is fourth, coming out of the newly revamped/added Woodcote chicane, a feature of Silverstone that the drivers dislike greatly. On lap 16, Cheever makes his move on the Benz of Thackwell, and the 23,000 fans here at Silverstone go berserk! Jonathan Palmer has the Liqui Moly Porsche, car #15, in fifth spot. But don’t get too excited, as soon after this, he and Mauro Baldi would be out of the motor race with fuel injection gremlins.
Funny enough, Johnny Palmer is actually running quicker than Hans Stuck while the car lasts. Jaguar #4 is in the pit lane for its first stop. It’s routine service and there is a driver change. Raul Boesel takes over for Eddie Cheever. Service from TWR is spot on, and they’re keen to win in front of their home crowd. Jan Lammers follow suit, pitting on the next lap, handing the car to John Watson. Jaguar are running 1-2 after the Mercedes Benz went out with broken suspension. Game over for Henri Pescarolo and Mike Thackwell.
Formation flying as John Watson leads Raul Boesel. The Jaguars are invincible on their home turf. Derek Bell has the #17 Autoglass Porsche 962 in third place. Martin Brundle has brought the third Jaguar he shares with John Nielsen to fourth, but that will be short lived as the V12 engine is kaput later on. After a thrilling battle in C2, Swiftair Ecosse will win the class, overhauling the Spice team, and Ray Mallock and David Leslie will be the victorious drivers. But, just before the end of the motor race, things have gone pear shaped for Oscar Larrauri. He’s smashed his Porsche 962 into the barriers, big style! Ker-runch!
Larrauri’s Porsche collided with one of the C2 machines and there’s debris all over the front straightaway. Cheever also has a near miss with a slower car, and he was jolly lucky to avoid any argy bargy there! We see the first safety car of the 1987 Group C season while the wreckage is cleaned up. Cheever had a VERY close shave with the already smashed Porsche 962! Yikes! Green light, again, and it’s a two horse race between Cheever and Lammers to the checkers. The Swiftair Ecosse’s are one lap apart with the Spice as the meat in the sandwich, but that will remain the status quo to the end of the race. After five hours and three minutes, it’s Jaguar winning, with Cheever and Boesel crossing the finish line first.
Jan Lammers and John Watson finish second, and in third, the #17 Rothmans Porsche of Hans Stuck and Derek Bell. It is four out of four, for Jaguar. Each of their drivers has tasted the champagne already this year.
- #4 Cheever/Boesel Jaguar XJR8 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #5 Lammers/Watson Jaguar XJR8 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #17 Bell/Stuck Porsche 962C Rothmans Porsche
- #18 Mass/Wollek Porsche 962C Rothmans Porsche
- #1 Brun/Schaefer/Pareja Porsche 962C Brun Motorsport
- #102 Mallock/Leslie* Ecosse C286 Ford Cosworth Swiftair Ecosse
- #111 Spice/Velez Spice SE86c Ford Cosworth Spice Engineeering
- #101 Wilds/Dumfries Ecosse C286 Ford Cosworth Swiftair Ecosse
- #21 Weaver/Gilbert-Scott/Cleare March 85G Porsche Richard Cleare Racing
- #106 Randaccio/Barberio/Gellini Tiga GC85 Ford Cosworth Kelmar
Next up, it’s the biggest race of the year, the 55th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.