Round 10: Fuji 1,000 Kilometers, Fuji Speedway, Fuji, Japan, September 27th, 1987

The Japanese have their own Group C sports car series, and stay in their home country, rarely venturing outside of Japan to race against the rest of the world.  But, exceptions are made twice a year.  Once at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and another being today.  It is the finale of the 1987 World Sports CarChampionship, the Fuji 1,000 Kilometers at Fuji Speedway in Fuji, Japan.  Toyota and Nissan could give Porsche and Jaguar a run for their money because the Japanese cars are racing their fabulously powerful turbocharged engines.  Toyota has developed their own turbochargers for their 2.1 liter 4 cylinder engines, while Nissan uses twin IHI turbos on their 3.0 liter V8 power unit.

Mazda is represented by the factory Mazdaspeed cars, and their rotary engine is also installed in the MCS Guppy.  Crowds have flocked to Fuji in their thousands to witness the finale of the ’87 season.  The clash of two worlds will have 80,000 people viewing it live at the speedway.  The factory Nissan’s were expected to dominate qualifying.  But, an interesting twist develops as it is the 1986 March chassis Nissan R86V that is fastest, last year’s car.  This is the #28 Person’s Racing Team entry shared by Japanese driver Takao Wada, and Sweden’s Anders Olofsson.

Needless to say, the factory Nissan’s powered by their new V8 engines has been snookered, and they are none too happy about it, being beaten to the punch by the turbo V6 car.  The John Miligan run team will be a force to be reckoned with.  Olofsson says the car has worked great the whole weekend so far.  Porsche and Jaguar can’t compete with the 1,000 horsepower available to the Nissan in qualifying.  But, Olofsson is cautiously optimistic.  Nissan wants to beat Toyota.  Porsche and Jaguar are quick.  But Nissan’s target is their rival, Toyota.

Takao Wada is 200ths of a second faster than the Toyota, the #36 Toyota Team Tom’s Toyota 87C with a Dome chassis, for Japan’s Masanori Sekiya, 1980 Formula 1 World Champion Alan Jones from Australia, and Brit Geoff Lees.  Jones has actually been driving the Toyota throughout 1987 in the Japanese Group C championship.  Tom’s Toyota also has a British team manager, John Wickham.  Toyota completes the dominance of the Japanese brands in qualifying with the Wacoal underwear sponsored #38 Dome Motorsport Dome 87C Toyota shared by American Ross Cheever, Eddie Cheever’s younger brother, and Sweden’s Eje Elgh.

Ross Cheever says he will do his best as will Eje Elgh.  Toyota still opts for a 2.1 liter twin turbocharged inline four cylinder.  This same motor would come to prominence in America in later years, dominating IMSA GTP in the early 1990s.  Mauro Baldi puts the Britten Lloyd Porsche 962C GTi on pole.  Baldi is sharing the #15 car with Mike Thackwell, who normally drives for Mercedes Benz.  Thackwell ran for Kouros Mercedes in Europe, Mercedes electing not to come to Japan for the finale.  Liqui Moly Porsche team manager Dave Price is confident.  Fuji is fast but easy on fuel according to Price.

David Price says his team might be able to beat Jaguar.  Kiwi Mike Thackwell has led four races for Mercedes, but has only been able to muster a best finish of seventh.  He wants more and better results than that, with the Porsche here at Fuji.  Thackwell is sharing the car with Mauro Baldi.  Fifth quickest is the #5 Jaguar XJR8 in the hands of Jan Lammers and John Watson.  Lammers and “Watty” have won twice at Jarama and Monza in ’87.  John Watson won this race for Porsche back in 1984.  There is a second chicane in the circuit.  Watson says the car is very good.  But, the weather will be a factor, and he thinks the Japanese cars are quick but could be short on fuel.  Fuji is a turbo circuit.  Jaguar has a race engine with 680 horsepower, while the turbo cars on high boost can run with 1,000 horsepower.  Maybe reliability will be on Jaguar’s side.  Brun Motorsport line up alongside Lammers in the Jaguar on row three of the starting grid.

Takefuji is sponsoring both of the Brun Porsche 962’s this weekend.  Car #1 for Jochen Mass and Oscar Larrauri, and car #2 for Spaniard Jesus Pareja along with German drivers Uwe Schafer and Manuel Reuter.  Mass has had a string of third and fourth places to his credit since the Porsche factory packed it up and left Group C at mid-season.  Kazuyoshi Hoshino starts seventh on the grid with the #23 Nissan Motorsports International Nissan R87E with the V8 turbo motor in the back.  He shares with fellow Japanese driver Kenji Takahashi and Brit Dave Scott.  The Nissan possesses blinding straightline speed here at Fuji with nearly 1,000 horsepower from the aforementioned V8 turbo lump.

The sister car #32 is alongside in the hands of Masahiro Hasemi and Aguri Suzuki.  The fastest Japanese entered Porsche is the #27 From A Racing 962C, co-driven by John Nielsen, who normally drives for Jaguar, and the Dane is sharing with Japan’s Hideki Okada.  An electrical problem means the car qualified towards the lower part of the top ten as Nielsen has a conversation with fellow Dane, Kris Nissen.  Nissen will be at the wheel of the #11 Leyton House Kremer Porsche 962C sharing with countryman Volker Weidler.  Raul Boesel, the new world champion is sharing Jaguar #4 with Johnny Dumfries.

Boesel was detained for two days at Tokyo airport for failing to produce the right visa.  Dumfries is confident.  He says the car can run consistent 1:22-1:23 laps on full tanks.  He will race for Jaguar in 1988.  80,000 people are here to see the race.  Dumfries ran the 1985 Fuji race that was hit by a typhoon.  Also, look for the #7 Joest Racing taka-Q Porsche 962 of Bob Wollek and Harald Grohs.  Hans Stuck is also listed on the car, but it remains to be seen if he will drive or not.  Weidler and Nissen are 12th fastest, as team boss Erwin Kremer considers his chances in this race.

The sister Kremer car, #10, with Kenwood sponsorship has Austria’s Franz Konrad at the wheel of it, sharing with South Africa’s George Fouche.  They are 13th fastest.  Brand nw is is the Vern Schuppan run Rothmans Porsche Team Schuppan Porsche 962C to be shared by Derek Bell and Geoff Brabham from Australia.  It’s a new car and a new team, and it’s Geoff Brabham’s first time in a Porsche.  Vern Schuppan is racing for a rival team.  Schuppan, the Australian, shares the #100 Trust Racing Porsche 962C with Japan’s Keiichi Suzuki, and Briton James Weaver.

Hans Stuck broke his wrist after tripping after the most recent race.  The Schuppan/Suzuki/Weaver car is behind the Bell/Brabham Porsche, but team manager Takahashi Nori is confident.  The second Brun Takefuji Porsche, #2 is 18th overall in the hands of Jesus Pareja and Uwe Schafer.  Gordon Spice and Fermin Velez could win the C2 championship if they take victory here at Fuji.  Team boss Jeff Hazel says that they can win if they beat Ecosse and stay reliable.  Fermin Velez is unkindly called “vermin” by the team, but he’s a quick, responsible driver.  The SwiftAir Ecosse cars are ready for the challenge with their two car assault on the race.  Ray Mallock and David Leslie share #102, with #101 being driven by Mike Wilds and Marc Duez.

The 1986 teams’ champions lost out in the wet at Spa.  Splitting the field in C2 is the Duckham’s Tiga.  The Ford Denmark entry has Thorkild Thyrring and Peter Elgaard sharing the driving duties.  A turbocharged car has yet to win a race in C2.  Olio Fiat and Metaxa sponsor the #121 Cosmik GP Motorsport Tiga Ford Cosworth to be driven by Costas Los and British Touring Car Champion, Chris Hodgetts in his first drive in a C2 car.  On Sunday morning, it is time to race.  A huge field of 38 cars is assembled on the grid, the largest of the season outside the 48 car grid at Le Mans.

Nissan, Toyota on row one.  Toyota, Porsche on row two.  Jaguar and Porsche on row three, and a Nissan sweep of row four.  We have a 224 lap race ahead of us as the Fuji 1,000 Kilometers is set to begin.  There is a new chicane this year, after the first corner.  The weather at Fuji national park is perfect, but Ray Mallock is having ECU problems in the Ecosse.  He will have to start from pit lane.  As far as fuel allowance, it is 510 liters of fuel available to C1 cars, and 330 liters available to C2 machines.   The Nissan Mid 4 safety car moves to the pit lane, the lights turn green, and we’re away, racing at Fuji, in the final race of 1987.

Nissan, Toyota, and Porsche are the top three.  Jaguar has locked up the title, so they can showcase in front of the Japanese crowd that they are the best.  Takao Wada leads Geoff Lees with Jan Lammers in the Jaguar in third place.  Indeed, the Jaguar is able to challenge the turbo cars from here in Japan.  Raul Boesel passes Geoff Lees.  Mauro Baldi is fourth followed by Jochen Mass, Masahiro Hasemi, Volker Weidler, and the rest of the field.  The speeds are high and the action is fierce as Jan Lammers wants by Takao Wada.  Lammers leads, leaving Wada and Lees to fight for second spot.  There’s a premium on low drag down the straight, and the Toyota’s and Nissan’s get past the Jaguar after a few laps of hard racing.

Lammers, is staying with the leaders, but it is game over for Persons Nissan as the car has accident damage.  Toyota is still leading with Geoff Lees, Masanori Sekiya, and Alan Jones, but the two Jaguar’s are keeping up the pressure.  It’s Jan Lammers and John Watson followed by the sister car of Raul Boesel and Johnny Dumfries.  Just before halfway, the Lees/Sekiya/Jones Toyota is out with electrical problems, leaving the door open for Jaguar to run away with this race.  In C2, Spice are also dominant, seven laps up on Swiftair Ecosse who are being drubbed by their rivals.  Remember, Ray Mallock had an ECU issue on the grid, and Marc Duez in the sister car has had an ill handling car the whole race.

Spice makes their final pit stop, and they will win the teams’ title here at Fuji after clinching the driver’s title at Spa Francorchamps, last time out.  Bob Wollek is pushing the #8 Matsuda Porsche 962 sharing with Frank Jelinski and John Winter.  But, will the car finish?  There’s a problem with one of the valves in the engine.  Brun Porsche will finish fourth behind the two Jaguar’s and the Richard Lloyd Porsche.  The team is suffering from brake issues just as they did at the Nurburgring.  The 1987 season is almost over, Jan Lammers runs second in Jaguar #5.

Jochen Mass takes the Brun Porsche out for the final time.  Brun won the whole teams’ championship over the factory cars from Porsche and Jaguar here last year.  But not this year.  Swiftair Ecosse will score their seventh second place effort of 1987 as Spice Engineering will win C2.  Team mates Duez and Wilds are second in class on the same lap.  Chamberlain Spice are running fourth in C2.  The turbocharged Spice Hart is in the hands of South African Graham Duxbury sharing with Britain’s Ian Khan.  Thorkild Thyrring, the Dane, is fifth in C2 with the Tiga Ford Turbo Duckhams sponsored entry.  To the victor belong the spoils, though, and Jaguar is going to convincingly win here in Japan.

Jan Lammers and John Watson will score their third triumph of 1987.  The sun sets into the mountains here at Fuji, and this closes the book on the 1987 season.  Here are the final point standings.

C1 Drivers:

  1. Raul Boesel 127 points
  2. John Watson 102 points
  3. Jan Lammers 102 points
  4. Eddie Cheever 100 points
  5. Derek Bell 99 points
  6. Hans Stuck 99 points
  7. Oscar Larrauri 69 points

C1 Trams:

  1. Silk Cut Jaguar 178 points
  2. Brun Motorsport 91 points
  3. Porsche AG 74 points
  4. Joest Racing 63 points
  5. Britten Lloyd Racing 58 points

C2 Drivers:

  1. Gordon Spice 140 points
  2. Fermin Velez 140 points
  3. Ray Mallock 115 points
  4. David Leslie 115 points
  5. Mike Wilds 73 points

C2 Teams:

  1. Spice Engineering 170 points
  2. Swiftair Ecosse 157 points
  3. Kelmar Racing 49 points
  4. Team Tiga Ford DK 46 points

We’ll see you, for more Group C thunder, in 1988.  So long, and take care, everybody.

Published by

the braking zone

International racing fan for over 20 years. I follow Formula One, Indycars, sports cars, touring cars and other varied forms of racing within and outside the U.S. I am a recent college graduate and have been following the world of car racing since childhood.

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