It’s one of the most legendary racing circuits in the world, and one of the most legendary races. It’s the Monza 1,000 Kilometers at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Italy’s national park of speed is set to rock to the thunder of the Group C cars. Mercedes has pole as Jochen Mass rejoins Jean Louis Schlesser and Mauro Baldi. Klaus Ludwig and Bob Wollek are second with the Joest Porsche followed by the first of the Brun Porsche’s for Oscar Larrauri and Massimo Sigala. The quickest Jaguar is in fourth, car #1 of Martin Brundle and Eddie Cheever, with the sister car fifth of Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries.
Porsche round out the top places, except for Lancia, making it’s return to the World Sports Car Championship for the first time in almost two years. Mussato Action Car has a newly modified Lancia LC2/88 with it’s twin turbocharged 3 liter Ferrari V8 for Italian’s Andrea de Cesaris and Bruno Giacomelli along with German Christian Danner. It should be noted, Bruno Giacomelli will not drive the car in this race.
Green lights on, and we’re racing at Monza! Mercedes on pole, leads into the first corner as of course, Klaus Ludwig and Bob Wollek qualified the Joest Porsche 962, car #7, second fastest. The Porsche’s have found a turn of speed here at Monza that was totally unexpected. The Porsche’s will surely give Silk Cut Jaguar and Sauber Mercedes a run for their money in this motor race. Mercedes and Porsche here, look, are locked into a scintillating battle for P1 around Monza. Klaus Ludwig is all over Jean Louis Schlesser like el cheapo suito here, but will his performance last?
Fuel economy is the name of the game in endurance sports car racing. It seems Jaguar are in fuel conservation mode. They are not up at the sharp end yet, scrapping away with the German cars. Are these two blokes, Schlesser and Ludwig, using their fuel too soon, and too fast? Porsche leading a WSC race used to be a familiar sight. But, in 1988, would you believe, this is the first lead that the boys from Stuttgart have had all year? Klaus Ludwig is putting a tremendous amount of daylight between himself, and the Mercedes. Now, where, you may ask, are the Jaguars?
Again, the Jaguars are cruising. They are behind, but going at a very conservative pace at the moment. Klaus Ludwig, our leader, he has some argy bargy and shows the #123 Charles Ivey Racing Tiga Porsche the way not to go, forcing it’s driver, South Africa’s Wayne Taylor, off the road and into the kitty litter. Taylor left the door open, but Ludwig just plainly slammed it in his face and he spun off. Team boss Charles Ivey and British co-driver Tim Harvey, won’t be pleased about that I don’t think. Mercedes hits the pit lane for the first time. Jochen Mass takes over the car from Jean Louis Schlesser. Sauber team boss Max Welti seems happy with things.
Massimo Sigala and Oscar Larrauri pit the Brun Porsche 962C from fifth overall. Car #6 is having a good race. Porsche #7 is now in the lane, under the professional and capable hands of Reinhold Joest and his team. Whoops! Other drivers are not being so professional, going off the circuit and dragging piles of gravel onto the road. Car #109, the Tiga GC85 Ford Cosworth for Kelmar Racing is in strife. That’s an all Italian driver lineup in their home race. Pasquale Barberio is sharing with Vito Veninata and Ranieri Randaccio. It’s their home circuit, but they need a map.
The track is over there, off the grass turn left then, turn right. Martin Brundle in Jaguar #1 inherits the lead on the pit stop exchange. Mercedes resume in second spot. After the first round of pit stops, it is Porsche leading over Sauber Mercedes and Jaguar. The Joest Porsche pitted from the lead and held their advantage. Jaguar is running to a pace at the moment, hoping that the Porsche and Mercedes break. They’re thinking “we aren’t going to get caught up in the mess of those leading blokes, and have our race ruined. Let them play cat and mouse up front, and we’ll be in the pound seats when it comes time to get with the program towards the end of the race.”
Uh oh. Things are not as rosy for Jaguar as they thought. Johnny Dumfries spins out and fortunately gets the car pointed back in the right direction. As we close in on the end of the Monza 1,000K’s the turbo cars have to back off a shade. Martin Brundle and Eddie Cheever in the #1 Jaguar reclaim the lead. For the most part, Jaguars are running on schedule, but then, there are problems for car #2. The Mercedes spins off the road, and takes Jan Lammers with him in the process. So, this puts a bit of a damper on the Jaguar challenge, but the #1 machine will still seal the deal and win here at Monza!
Martin Brundle and Eddie Cheever are your winners, a lap up on the slowing Mercedes of Jochen Mass, Mauro Baldi, and Jean Louis Schlesser. The other car that figured prominently in the early stages, the #7 Porsche 962C of Klaus Ludwig and Bob Wollek, also had to slow to conserve fuel to the end of the motor race. The Joest Blaupunkt Porsche can only muster a fifth place finish. Here are the results.
- #1 Brundle/Cheever Jaguar XJR9 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #61 Schlesser/Baldi/Mass Sauber C9/88 Mercedes Team Sauber Mercedes
- #6 Larrauri/Sigala Porsche 962C Brun Motorsport
- #8 Jelinski/Winter Porsche 962C Joest Racing
- #7 Ludwig/Wollek Porsche 962C Joest Racing
- #10 Weidler/Giacomelli Porsche 962C Porsche Kremer Racing
- #13 Raphanel/Ravaglia Cougar C20B Porsche Primagaz Competition
- #111 Bellm/Spice Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth Spice Engineering*
- #40 Wood/Salamin Porsche 962C Swiss Team Salamin
- #103 Coppelli/Thyrring Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth Spice Engineering
*=C2 class winners.
Spice Engineering also score a 1-2 in C2 at Monza. Next up, is England’s most beloved motor racing circuit, Silverstone. The race is less than a month away.