We are ready for the final European outing of Group C 1987 at the fabulous Spa Francorchamps circuit in the Ardennes forest of Belgium. Drivers are preparing for this 1,000 kilometer motor race. This is also the penultimate event of the 1987 championship. Drivers prepare to start the race. Some discuss their strategy, and others, are more introverted, alone with their thoughts about how they will perform in today’s contest. Mercedes Benz is on their first pole of the year. Mike Thackwell set the time in qualifying, and he is sharing the Sauber C9 with Jean Louis Schlesser and Henri Pescarolo. Jonathan Palmer in the Porsche has other ideas.
The cars stream downhill and are ready for a start. Green lights, on, and away we go! Palmer jumps past Thackwell to take the lead into Eau Rouge for the first time of asking. 20,000 fans look on as 32 Group C and C2 cars attack Circuit de Spa Francorchamps. Heading down the mountain, Mike Thackwell decides that now is the time, and he blows by Palmer and into the race lead. Two of the Jaguar’s follow. Eddie Cheever is one, in the #4 car he shares with John Nielsen, and there is also the third Jaguar in tow, car #6, with Martin Brundle, Johnny Dumfries, and Raul Boesel on the drivers’ strength.
Then comes the #2 F.A.T. FATurbo Express Brun Porsche 962 of Jochen Mass and Oscar Larrauri. Sparks fly from underneath the venture tunnels of these ground effects sports cars as they attack the circuit here at Spa. In C2, Fermin Velez leads for Spice, and Will Hoy runs second in class in the Lucky Strike Argo. Hoy shares with Martin Schanche and Velez with Gordon Spice. These are two teams with what you might call in today’s parlance, Pro-Am driver lineups. Jonathan Palmer has retaken the race lead. Thackwell has a broken seat in the Mercedes and has to head for pit lane to have it repaired. That can’t be comfortable, especially on a track like Spa Francorchamps with high speeds and high G Force loads.
This allows Jaguar #6 to pounce, as the pairing of Martin Brundle and Johnny Dumfries is closing in. Brundle is applying the blowtorch to Mauro Baldi in the Liqui Moly Porsche right now. But something is about to throw the cat among the pigeons here, as Mother Nature decides to dampen the race with rain. Now, the Liqui Moly team just made a pit stop to put Johnny Palmer into the car, taking over from Mauro Baldi. But, when the skies open, Palmer is on slicks, not wets. So, the poor chap is caught between a rock and a hard place. Silk Cut Jaguar has a strategy they hope will be a masterstroke.
Raul Boesel has been held back until the mid-point in the motor race (the 500 kilometer mark, or three hour mark depending on if you look at time or distance), and he can join whichever Jaguar happens to be leading the motor race. Johnny Dumfries is in P1 and so, Boesel decides he will join the crew of the #6 Jaguar, their third car, which was also slated to have John Nielsen drive, but Nielsen’s services are not required. He is driving the #4 Jaguar with Eddie Cheever. If Boesel can stay on the road, he will be crowned the 1987 World Sports Car Drivers’ Champion with one race still to run. The Brazilian must be super cautious, because as so often happens at Spa, it can be raining on one end of the track, and bone dry on the other end. For Fermin Velez and Gordon Spice, they have the C2 race in their hands, and if they win today, they will take home the C2 drivers’ crown. Fuel injection issues on the V12 engine held back Eddie Cheever and John Nielsen, but they are up to fourth overall now, to match their car number at Jaguar.
Jochen Mass and Oscar Larrauri are on the podium in third spot, but 1987 has just not been their year. They’ve been the eternal bridesmaids all year having to settle for finishes in good placings, but no victories. Hans Stuck and Derek Bell now have a slim chance of winning the championship, because their third team mate, Bob Wollek slid off the road in the #7 Rothmans Joest Racing Porsche 962C. Wollek had quite the shunt with the barrier that lost the team three laps to pit and repair/change the nose. Spice have the advantage in the wet in C2. By the time this race is done and dusted, they will be six laps up on their competition in the category! Think about that one, blokes. That’s roughly, oh, a lap per hour. What a pace!
Gordon Spice takes his third consecutive C2 championship, and Fermin Velez wins his first. Raul Boesel drives the Jaguar over the finish line, and the Brazilian becomes the new champion in World Sports Car racing! Jaguar wins the race and the championship, and just to prove the point, the sister car, #5 of Jan Lammers and John Watson finishes second here at the Spa 1,000 Kilometers. Silk Cut Jaguar has won six of eight races run in 1987. That’s a winning percentage of 75%. Here are the results, from Spa.
- #6 Brundle/Dumfries/Boesel Jaguar XJR-8 Silk Cut Jaguar*
- #5 Lammers/Watson Jaguar XJR-8 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #2 Mass/Larrauri Porsche 962C Brun Motorsport
- #4 Cheever/Nielsen Jaguar XJR-8 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #7 Stuck/Bell/Wollek Porsche 962C Joest Racing
- #8 Jelinski/Winter/Dickens Porsche 962C Joest Racing
- #61 Thackwell/Schlesser Sauber C9 Mercedes Kouros Racing Team
- #3 Pareja/Schafer Porsche 962C Brun Motorsport
- #72 Lassig/Yver/De Dryver Porsche 962C Primagaz Competition
- #111 Velez/Spice Spice SE87C Ford Cosworth Spice Engineering**
*C1 Drivers Champion: Raul Boesel
**C2 Drivers Champions: Fermin Velez & Gordon Spice
The finale, is in Japan, at the Fuji 1,000 Kilometers at Fuji Speedway in the shadow of Mount Fuji, in two weeks.