Round 6: Brno 360 Kilometers, Masaryk Circuit, (Brno Circuit), Brno, Czech Republic, July 10th, 1988

Welcome to the Moravian capitol of Brno, in the Czech Republic.  Brno is a city of 400,000 people, is famous for its industry and gave its name to the Brngun.  Brno is between the Czech capital city of Prague, and the Austrian capitol of Vienna.  For many years, Brno had a road circuit on public roads running through it, much like Le Mans.  But, in 1987, the road circuit was replaced by the Brno Autodrom, a purpose built speedway that is the site of today’s World Sports Car Championship sprint race.

This is one of the best motor racing tracks in all of Europe and measures 5.4 kilometers (3 and 3/8s miles), in length.  The natural grandstand, on the hillside overlooking the speedway, seats 185,000 eager fans, who are ready to go sports car racing.  The World Sports Car Championship, for the first time ever, comes under the Iron Curtain.  Porsche and Jaguar will do battle once again with Mercedes Benz, who were fastest in practice.  Jean Louis Schlesser has scored his fifth pole in six races, and of course, Sauber Mercedes missed Le Mans due to tire trouble.

The Michelin tires will be fine at a shorter, slower track like Brno.  Most drivers says this track is similar to Jerez in Spain.  Jean Louis Schlesser compares the corners to Brands Hatch and the straightaway speeds kind of like Spa.  Schlesser is fastest, sharing the #62 Mercedes with Jochen Mass, and in the sister #61 machine it is Mauro Baldi sharing with James Weaver.  Mercedes are not too happy with the overall performance of the Sauber C9-88 as it is understeering a lot.  Mercedes are in reasonably good shape, but there have been problems here at Brno for Jaguar.  The TWR team has had to repair the car after the morning warmup.

Lead driver, and Formula 1 ace, Martin Brundle is totally unsure of what is causing the problems, and is as perplexed as the rest of the team.  Brundle is guessing there is a computer issue, and is not too concerned.  There is a spare car if need be.  Mercedes and Blaupunkt Porsche will be in the fight.  Brundle says the Jaguars have the handling, but are still getting outrun by the turbocharged Porsche’s and Mercedes’ on the straightaways.  Bob Wollek driving the #7 Blaupunki Car Audio Porsche 962C is just behind the Benzes and the Jaguars.  Wollek is sharing Joest’s famous #7 with John Winter.  Bob Wollek says the Porsche has better out of corner performance.

Wollek also says that he will try to pass and pull away from his rivals.  In fifth is the #2 Le Mans winning Jaguar XJR9 in the hands of Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries.  Jan Lammers predicts Jaguar will kind of be the meat in the sandwich between Mercedes and Porsche.  Porsche Customer Racing Director Jurgen Barth, has been looking after the customer Porsche efforts all year, and now, he is going to return to the driver’s seat as well.  Barth, from Germany, is set to share the sister #8 Joest Blaupunkt Porsche 962C with Franz Konrad from Austria.

There was a lack of availability for Joest’s sister car for Brno, so, Barth has decided to step in and fill that role, sharing with Konrad.  Jurgen Barth was part of Porsche’s 1977 Le Mans winning crew with the 936 spyder Prototype alongside Hurley Haywood and Jacky Ickx.  Incidentally, that car was powered by a 2.1 liter twin turbo flat six engine, that was from a Porsche 911.  Jurgen Barth’s dad, Edgar Barth ran at Brno on the old 35 kilometer (22 mile) circuit.  Barth and Konrad have qualified sixth quickest for this race.  Seventh, and right behind them, is the leading C2 car, the #103 BP Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth to be driven by Thorkild Thyrring from Denmark, and the Italian, Almo Coppelli.

Not too far behind them is the #121 GP Motorsport Spice of Costas Los from Greece and Briton Evan Clements.  They were faster than the sister works Spice, #111, of Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm.  Tenth is the Porsche 962, #40 for Swiss Team Salamin.  The team owner Antoine Salamin from Switzerland, shares with Italian Luigi Taverna.  Frenchman Jean Louis Ricci, sharing with Claude Ballot-Lena, a longtime campaigner in sports car racing, have the Chamberlain Engineering Spice Cosworth next on the grid.  Then there’s Dollop Racing with their Lancia, and another Chamberlain Spice with Hart power.  17 cars are in the field, a small grid.  Let’s have a look at it.

  1. #61 Baldi/Weaver Sauber C9/88 Mercedes                               Sauber Mercedes
  2. #62 Schlesser/Mass Sauber C9/88 Mercedes                             Sauber Mercedes
  3. #1 Brundle/Nielsen Jaguar XJR-9                                                 Jaguar Silk Cut
  4. #7 Wollek/Winter Porsche 962C                                                  Blaupunkt Joest Racing
  5. #2 Lammers/Dumfries Jaguar XJR-9                                           Jaguar Silk Cut
  6. #8 Konrad/Barth Porsche 962C                                                   Blaupunkt Joest Racing
  7. #103 Thyrring/Coppelli Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth              BP Spice Engineering*
  8. #121 Los/Clements Spice SE87C Ford Cosworth                      BP Motorsport
  9. #111 Spice/Bellm Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth                         Spice Engineering
  10. #40 Salamin/Taverna Porsche 962C                                           Swiss Team Salamin
  11. #107 Ballot-Lena/Ricci Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth              Chamberlain Engineering
  12. #24 Frey/Giangrossi/Marozzo Lancia LC2/88                         Dollop Racing
  13. #127 Stott/Adams/Birrane Spice SE86C Hart                          Chamberlain Engineering
  14. #106 Barberio/Veninatta Tiga GC288 Ford Cosworth           Roy Baker Racing
  15. #198 Bender/Kimpton Tiga GC286 Ford Cosworth               Roy Baker Racing
  16. #177 Descartes/Tremblay ALD 03 BMW                                 Louis Descartes
  17. #109 Gellini/Randaccio Tiga GC288 Ford Cosworth             Kelmar Racing

One other car was supposed to start, but the #20 C1 class Tiga Ford Cosworth for Team Lee-Davey was not so lucky.  The British trio of Tim Lee-Davey, Chris Hodgetts, and Tom Dodd-Noble were supposed to share the car, but in testing, the car caught fire and burned completely to the ground.  So, 17 cars will start as they line up on the grid.  78,000 people are here for a Group C race, and much of the crowd has walked for miles to the circuit, to see the race.  Again, this is the first time the World Sports Car Championship has ventured behind the Iron Curtain.  The field is led by a Tatra safety car.  The grid, as we’ve seen, is very close.

We have 67 laps scheduled for this race.  Sauber Mercedes is back with a vengeance.  Green lights, on, and away we go!  The original lineups in those cars would have seen Mauro Baldi and Jean Louis Schlesser in #61 and Jochen Mass and James Weaver in #62.  Peter Sauber, the team owner, and team manager, Max Welti, are keeping their options open on Jean Louis Schlesser.  Keep in mind, despite Mercedes missing Le Mans due to their tire issues, they are still leading the points table in the world championship.  Jean Louis Schlesser will decide which car to drive depending on which one is leading at half distance, 180 kilometers or 112 and a half miles.

Jaguar is running to a steady pace with John Nielsen and Martin Brundle at the moment.  Sauber Mercedes run 1-2.  So many fans are here, not only from Czechoslovakia, but from all over Eastern Europe.  So, the race is underway, and we’ve seen so far that Sauber Mercedes has been dominant.  However, #61 has a problem.  An unscheduled pit stop was taken early, for a puncture.  Jean Louis Schlesser will join the sister #62 Mercedes leading this motor race, with Jochen Mass currently at the wheel of it.  So, the driving team becomes in #62, Mass/Schlesser/Weaver.  Although, it is doubtful James Weaver will drive in this sprint race.

The Brundle/Nielsen Jaguar continues on in second as the Porsche’s just cannot keep up with the Jag’s or the Benzes at this point.  The best they can muster so far, is third in the overall with the Lammers/Dumfries #2 machine.  Mercedes has repaired the punctured tire on car #61, but according to the strategy, they will need a second pit stop for fuel despite the nature of this race at Brno being a super sprint.  Jochen  Mass and Jean Louis Schlesser are the duo that still leads the motor race.  Mercedes are not the only blokes with tire issues, a puncture also ruined the race for the #2 Jaguar which is now having to make up for lost time.

Jochen Mass and Jean Louis Schlesser are on a Sunday cruise here at Brno as in the C2 division, we are going to see another win for the Spice of Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm, who also dominated Le Mans of course.  Pit stop time for Sauber Mercedes #62.  Jochen Mass, out, and Jean Louis Schlesser in for the next stint.  Schlesser must retain his lead in the race to gain maximum points so that his lead in the driver’s championship balloons to a margin of 20 points.  Porsche and Joest can manage fifth and sixth spot here at Brno with Bob Wollek and John Winter finishing ahead of Franz Konrad and Jurgen Barth.

Mercedes dominates here in Czechoslovakia, with the top four cars all on the same lap.  They win at Brno!  Let’s have a look at the results.

  1. #62 Schlesser/Mass/Weaver Sauber C9/88 Mercedes    Sauber Mercedes
  2. #1 Brundle/Nielsen Jaguar XJR9                                        Jaguar Silk Cut
  3. #2 Lammers/Dumfries Jaguar XJR9                                  Jaguar Silk Cut
  4. #61 Baldi/Weaver/Schlesser Sauber C9/88 Mercedes   Sauber Mercedes
  5. #7 Wollek/Winter Porsche 962C                                       Blaupunkt Joest Racing
  6. #8 Konrad/Barth Porsche 962C                                         Blaupunkt Joest Racing
  7. #111 Spice/Bellm Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth               Spice Engineering*
  8. #103 Thyrring/Coppelli Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth    BP Spice Engineering
  9. #40 Salamin/Taverna Porsche 962C                                 Swiss Team Salamin
  10. #127 Stott/Adams/Birrane Spice SE86C Hart                  Chamberlain Engineering

The next race is in the garden of Great Britain, at the legendary Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, England, in two weeks.

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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