Round 2 : Jarama 360 Kilometers, Circuito del Jarama, San Sebastian de los Reyes, Spain, March 13th, 1988

It’s a Saturday afternoon, in Madrid, and the Spaniards head for the stadium to see the bull fight.  Ole!  Ole!  Ole! they cheer, as the bullfighter tries his best to not get mauled.  The odds are almost certainly not on the side of the bull, but on occasion, he can make it one all.  Cuidado, torero!  Come Sunday, there’s a different kind of sport at the Jarama circuit.  Sports car racing, is what fans come to see.  Round two of the FIA World Sports Prototype Championship is on tap.  This is the first of two sprint races in the championship.  It will last a distance of 360 kilometers (225 miles).  The scheduled time is two and a half hours, and teams hope to make a single pit stop.

We saw a brilliant race at Jarama in 1987, and it looks as if the ’88 event will bring the action in spades as well.  Jean Louis Schlesser of France has put the #61 Sauber Mercedes on the pole.  Schlesser is a half a second quicker than the #2 Silk Cut Jaguar of Jan Lammers, sharing with Johnny Dumfries.  Jean Louis Schlesser says all is well.  People wondered if Sauber changed cars overnight, but Schlesser politely makes the statement, “no, we didn’t change cars, and we have the same one we qualified.”  He clarifies the team fixed a small bodywork damage issue on the car.

His Earlship, Johnny Dumfries says Jaguar can beat Mercedes, but that driving a Group C sports car at Jarama is like driving a truck around a go kart track.  He predicts Mercedes might have tire degradation issues.  Dumfries also says that yes, a rivalry is developing within the team, to a degree, but that the interest of the team will come first.  Eddie Cheever is third in the #1 Jaguar.  Cheever says Mercedes is really strong, and they are playing poker by claiming Jaguar could beat them.  Eddie Cheever had some slight argy bargy with Mauro Baldi heading for pit lane after qualifying, but hopes that no such fracas will go on in the race itself.

John Nielsen is third on the grid, and is lucky, as the Dane had a substantial wallop with the barrier during practice.  Nielsen says he was on his cool down lap, and he hit a pedestrian’s vehicle by mistake, doing severe damage to the road car, and the Jaguar sports car.  Nielsen does hope to contest the race despite the incident.  Oscar Larrauri has the quickest Porsche 962 with the #6 Repsol Brun racer he shares with Jesus Pareja, and at his elbow, is the #7 Joest 962 for Klaus Ludwig and Bob Wollek.  The Porsche’s have found a turn of speed at Jarama that they lacked at Jerez.

They are within a second of the pole sitter, the Sauber Mercedes.  The second Brun Porsche, car #5 of Uwe Schafer and Manuel Reuter is next on the grid, followed by the Weaver/Bell GTi Porsche.  But, the RLR entry is going to be scratched.  Derek Bell has the flu, and can’t race, and then, to add insult to injury, James Weaver stuffs the RLR Porsche into the barriers, crunching it, and causing it to be a non-starter.  Frank Jelinski and John Winter in the second Joest Blaupunkt Porsche will be promoted.  They finished second at the 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida, in IMSA in the United States, the week before this race.

Tenth quickest, and making it’s debut in the 1988 WSC series is the Kremer Porsche 962C, car #10, in the hands of Dane Kris Nissen and German Volker Weidler.  Spice sweeps the top places in C2, with the quickest car being the #103 Ford Cosworth powered spice for Italian Almo Coppelli and Dane Thorkild Thyrring.  Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm start second in class as they are on the search for another C2 win.  At Jarama, the C2 cars are cornering as quickly as some of the C1 machines.  How about that!  Walter Brun and Massimo Sigala will start the #4 Porsche 962 13th on the grid.

Third quickest in C2 is our pal, Costas Los, the Greek driver, with the 1987 spec Spice, the Dianetics liveried car he shares with Philippe de Henning.  Will Hoy from England and Norwegian Martin Schanche have the #117 Lucky Strike Argo Ford Cosworth next up on the C2 grid.  24 cars are set to take the start.  Here are the top qualifiers.

  1. #61 Schlesser/Baldi Sauber C9/88 Mercedes                    Team Sauber Mercedes
  2. #2 Lammers/Dumfries Jaguar XJR9                                   Silk Cut Jaguar
  3. #1 Cheever/Brundle Jaguar XJR9                                        Silk Cut Jaguar
  4. #3 Nielsen/Watson Jaguar XJR9                                          Silk Cut Jaguar
  5. #6 Pareja/Larrauri Porsche 962C                                       Brun Motorsport
  6. #7 Ludwig/Wollek Porsche 962C                                        Joest Racing
  7. #5 Reuter/Schafer Porsche 962C                                        Brun Motorsport
  8. #14 Weaver/Bell Porsche 962C GTi                                   Richard Lloyd Racing
  9. #8 Jelinski/Winter Porsche 962C                                       Joest Racing
  10. #10 Nissen/Weidler Porsche 962C                                    Porsche Kremer Racing

It is all C1 cars in the top ten, with the quickest C2 entry next on the grid, the Thyrring/Coppelli driven Spice factory car.  Eddie Cheever shows off the Jaguar, with its high downforce body and its massive 7.0 liter V12, and a modern computer that measures tire temperature and fuel consumption.  The Jaguar has a five speed gearbox and a carbon fiber monocoque chassis.  The downforce is limited, but is still there.  The car is not easy to drive, but it is fuel efficient, and it’s fast.

We are set to race at Jarama.  The rolling start is taking place, now.  The lights flash green, and away we go!  Jean Louis Schlesser and Mauro Baldi take the Mercedes into the lead.  Schlesser is starting the car.  Just two drivers at Mercedes for Jarama, no Jochen Mass.  The lights flash green, and we’re off!  Before we get into the race action, we must address the new points scoring system for the World Sports Car Championship for 1988.  The points system is based on a coefficient.  In a 1,000 kilometer race, the winner earns 40 points.  In a sprint race (such as the one we see here at Jarama), the winner is awarded only 20 points.  Multiply it by three for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the winner of Le Mans will earn 60 points.  This makes a race like Le Mans all the more important to go towards the drivers’, teams’ or manufacturers’ championship.  This seems fairer than the old system which allotted the same amount of points, no matter the distance of the race be it a long or short race.

Fuel allocation in C1 is 190 liters for a sprint race and 510 liters for a 1,000 kilometer event.  Now, we’ve been explaining these new rules the whole bloody time and haven’t paid attention to the motor race we have on hand, chaps.  Sauber Mercedes leads.  The Baldi/Schlesser entry is in front, but the Jaguars are pouring on the steam behind them.  Jan Lammers is all over the back of Jean Louis Schlesser, look.  Schlesser runs wide, and Lammers says “thanks for leaving the door open, mate” and steps right through.  This is some of the best racing we’ve seen in Group C for some years now.  When you bring multiple manufacturers to the table, this is what happens.  You get close, competitive, exciting racing.

In the early part of this motor race, Costas Los has a bit of an advantage over Gordon Spice in C2 as these two blokes fight it out for class honors.  It is pit stop time for Mercedes.  AEG Sauber Mercedes are banking on making two fuel stops in this race.  They are able to use softer compound tires and take on more fuel in the second stop they will make in the race.  Jan Lammers now leads a Jaguar 1-2-3 with Eddie Cheever second and John Nielsen in third.  Klaus Ludwig has the best of the Porsche’s, the Blaupunkt Joest #7 962 he shares with Bob Wollek.

But, their joy is short lived.  Ludwig and Wollek, on lap 62 of the motor race, they have their transmission pack up, and it’s game over for Joest Porsche.  Oscar Larrauri has the Repsol Brun Porsche 962C in sixth spot.  Jan Lammers brings the #2 Jaguar in for service from the lead.  He will step aside, and hand the car to the Earl, Johnny Dumfries for the next stint in the race.  Meanwhile, Mauro Baldi is no slouch and he’s gaining in the Sauber Mercedes all the time.  Eddie Cheever in the #1 Jaguar takes the race lead on the pit stop rotation with Baldi in second.  Jaguar #1 is in the lane, and Eddie Cheever hands over to Martin Brundle.  Baldi and Mercedes assume the lead.  But Brundle, he wants to chase after the Benz, and absolutely screams out of the pit lane, revving the V12 to the moon!

Fuel spilled in the lane and a mechanic was dazed when he was knocked over, but everything is clear sailing for Jaguar in their pursuit to catch Mercedes.  As we watch the Repsol Porsche, we fast forward to the second fuel stop for the Sauber Mercedes.  Mauro Baldi turns the car over to Jean Louis Schlesser to finish out the race here at Jarama.  Martin Brundle takes over the lead from team mate Johnny Dumfries.  It’s a Jaguar 1-2 as the Mercedes roars away from pit lane.  Now, Jean Louis Schlesser is loaded for bear here, because he has a lighter fuel load and is on qualifying tires from Michelin.  Can he make headway and catch the two Jaguar’s?

Mercedes cannot find the speed to overtake the Jaguars for the lead, however, Schlesser is gifted with second spot after Johnny Dumfries loops the Jaguar towards the end of the race.  Jaguar #1 with Eddie Cheever and Martin Brundle win at Jarama!  The Mercedes is second, only 20 seconds in-arrears of the Jaguar.  Here are the results.

  1. #1 Cheever/Brundle Jaguar XJR9                               Silk Cut Jaguar
  2. #61 Schlesser/Baldi Sauber C9/88 Mercedes            Team Sauber Mercedes
  3. #3 Nielsen/Watson Jaguar XJR9                                   Silk Cut Jaguar
  4. #5 Reuter/Schafer Porsche 962C                                  Brun Motorsport
  5. #10 Nissen/Weidler Porsche 962C                               Porsche Kremer Racing
  6. #6 Pareja/Larrauri Porsche 962C                                Brun Motorsport
  7. #111 Spice/Bellm Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth         Spice Engineering*
  8. #8 Jelinski/Winter Porsche 962C                                 Joest Racing
  9. #4 Brun/Sigala Porsche  962C                                      Brun Motorsport
  10. #107 Ballot-Lena/Ricci Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth  Chamberlain Engineering

So, Jaguar wins overall and in C2, the victory goes to the Spice Engineering car of Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm.  Next up, it’s the Monza 1,000 Kilometers in Monza, Italy at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in Monza, Italy, in less than a month.

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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