Round 7: Brands Hatch 1,000 Kilometers, Brands Hatch Circuit, Kent, England, July 24th, 1988

The second half of the 1988 World Sports Car Championship, begins in the garden of England at Brands Hatch in Kent.  The bells ring from an English country church.  It should be high summer, but the weather is uncertain as practice gets underway.  Qualifying for the race was also awash with rain, and we could still see the skies open for the Sunday race.  So, eager fans who have come to see sports car racing have the brollies at the ready.

Mercedes, Porsche, and Jaguar, once again, are set to do battle, and it’s coming up, next!  On the pole for Mercedes Benz is the #61 Sauber C9-88 Mercedes in the hands of Mauro Baldi and James Weaver, the Italian and the Briton.  Baldi beat team mate, Frenchman Jean Louis Schlesser to the top spot, and Schlesser has already had five starts from P1 in 1988.  Schlesser will co-drive as per usual with Jochen  Mass, the German.  They won two weeks ago at Brno, but Mass is not sure how this race will go other than being a good one.  If it rains, the big turbo V8 in the back of the Mercedes will find it hard to work as there will be less traction for the tires.

If it’s damp, Mass says Sauber Mercedes will be OK.  But, if we get a gully washer, then they’re going to be behind the eight ball without a doubt.  The new Dingle Dell chicane at Brands Hatch has gotten mixed reviews from drivers, but Mass seems to favor it.  Porsche slots in third quickest ahead of the hometown favorites from Jaguar, with Klaus Ludwig starting Porsche #7 for Reinhold Joest’s team.  Ludwig says his qualifying performance was OK, not fantastic as one of the commentators puts it.  He believes Porsche will be able to run ahead of Jaguar, but that Mercedes Benz are the cars to beat.  They are the ones with the advantage going into this motor race.

Ludwig says the new fuel injection and electronic waste gate control, has changed the performance of the Porsche.  Ludwig is not bothered by the new Dingle Dell chicane, but, he says that the designer should have thought it out more before adding it to the circuit.  It’s going to make the corner faster than it already was and may cause more sticky situations than actually help the racing with the big Group C cars here at Brands, as we anticipate the start, soon.  Ludwig says this rallycross style chicane is going to be a bugaboo.

Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries line the #2 Jaguar up in fourth spot next to the Joest Porsche.  Again, these chaps won Le Mans, and Jan Lammers still wants to show he’s competitive.  Brands Hatch is a really important race for Jaguar, being the second WSC race of the year in England.  John Winter and Frank Jelinski have the sister Joest Porsche #8 in the top five.  Winter, like his team mate at Joest, Klaus Ludwig says the new Dingle Dell chicane is way too fast.  It is a blind corner.  Frank Jelinski will start Porsche #8 as we get ever closer to starting this race at Brands Hatch.

Race distances will be 1,000 kilometers, 625 miles, at a lap count of 240 laps roughly within the six hours.  John Nielsen, Andy Wallace, and Martin Brundle, have the #1 Jaguar set to go.  Let’s look at the starting grid for the Brands Hatch 1,000 Kilometers.

  1. #61 Baldi/Schlesser Sauber C9/88 Mercedes                               Sauber Mercedes
  2. #62 Schlesser/Mass/Baldi Sauber C9/88 Mercedes                     Sauber Mercedes
  3. #7 Ludwig/Wollek Porsche 962C                                                    Blaupunkt-Joest Racing
  4. #2 Lammers/Dumfries Jaguar XJR9                                               Silk Cut Jaguar
  5. #8 Jelinski/Winter Porsche 962C                                                    Blaupunkt-Joest Racing
  6. #1 Nielsen/Wallace/Brundle Jaguar XJR9                                     Silk Cut Jaguar
  7. #111 Spice/Bellm Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth                            BP Spice Engineering*
  8. #3 Watson/Jones Jaguar XJR9                                                         Silk Cut Jaguar
  9. #103 Coppelli/Thyrring Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth                 BP Spice Engineering
  10. #117 Hoy/Schanche Argo JM19C Ford Cosworth                        Team Lucky Strike Schanche
  11. #115 “Chavet”/Sheldon/Lee-Davey ADA 03 Ford Cosworth         ADA Engineering
  12. #40 Salamin/Lavaggi/Deletraz Porsche 962C                                  Swiss Team Salamin
  13. #107 Ballot-Lena/Ricci Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth                      Chamberlain Engineering
  14. #191 Piper/Iacobelli Argo JM19C Ford Cosworth                       PC Automotive
  15. #42 Regout/Santal/del Bello Sauber C8 Mercedes                      Noel del Bello Racing
  16. #123 Harvey/Hodgetts/Donovan Tiga GC287 Porsche               Charles Ivey Racing/Istel/Goal  Systems
  17. #112 Walker/Stott/Flux Tiga GC287 Ford Cosworth                        FAI Automotive Ltd.
  18. #109 Randaccio/Gellini/Veninata Tiga GC288 Ford Cosworth      Kelmar Racing
  19. #125 Ferrarin/Lacaud/Oudet Tiga GC85 Ford Cosworth                Patrick Oudet Vetir Racing
  20. #127 Adams/Birrane Spice SE86C Hart                                              Chamberlain Engineering
  21. #198 Hynes/Cohen-Olivar/Bartlett Tiga GC286 Ford Cosworth    Roy Baker Racing
  22. #177 Lateste/Tremblay/Bennett     ALD 04 BMW                           Automobiles Louis Descartes

Twenty two cars will start this race.  If Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm win C2 at Brands Hatch, they will take yet another title, which is something like their fourth on the trot.  The Ford Sierra safety car moves to pit lane.  Green lights, on, and away we go!  It’s a gorgeous day for Brands Hatch.  Jochen Mass put the Mercedes into the lead right away, followed in hot pursuit by Jan Lammers in the fastest of the Jaguar’s.  Mauro Baldi is third, but he has a challenge, look, from Porsche #7 of Klaus Ludwig!  Reinhold Joest has given him the instructions to go for it and charge after the Mercedes and Jaguar juggernauts.

They dive down Pilgrims Drop for the first time.  Porsche reckons there could be an early yellow that will put them in the pound seats on fuel strategy.  Klaus Ludwig leads this motor race ahead of the two Mercedes’ of Jochen Mass and Mauro Baldi.  Jean Louis Schlesser will take over whichever Mercedes is ahead after the first round of pit stops.  But, there’s a crash!  Look out!  The slower C2 Tiga that started next to last, with American Stephen Hynes at the wheel, gets loose, and boom!  Jochen Mass in the Mercedes has no place to go except straight into the C2 racer, which destroys the Sauber and pitches him towards the tire wall coming off of Clearways, the final corner on the circuit!

Now, in the picture we see Mauro Baldi in the sister Mercedes, and he locks everything up, spinning a 360 to avoid being the third victim in this incident and thus wiping out the Mercedes squad.  One of the Jaguar’s cuts through and continues on in the race.  Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries come through.  They’ll be OK.  So will the third Jaguar in the hands of John Watson and American Davy Jones.  This has to have been one of the most violent, spectacular carambolages seen for years at Brands Hatch or anywhere for that matter.

Thank God for very well constructed modern Group C sports cars, because Jochen Mass and Stephen Hynes can both walk away from this crackup unharmed.  The safety car is on track as the efficient British marshals clean up the wreckage.  Mauro Baldi in the sole remaining Mercedes is in the pit lane to change his flat spotted tires.  The tires on Baldi’s Mercedes could very well have come off the car in the shape of cubes after his spin!

Jeepers!  Jochen Mass explains he was on his way to overtake the C2 Tiga with Hynes at the wheel of it.  Klaus Ludwig in the Porsche had passed the C2 car.  Hynes stays to drivers’ left, and Jochen Mass thinks, ‘OK, I’m clear.  I have space.’  Hynes loses it, and… crunch!  Mass has no escape.  He is sent reeling into the barriers.  It’s game over for Jochen Mass and Jean  Louis Schlesser, who never got to drive his stint.  Schlesser can still drive as he is entered with Baldi in the #61 car but will have to take points in that automobile now that the sister car went from being one of the gorgeous cars on the grid, to a worthless pile of junk, in mere seconds.  At the restart, the safety car pulls into pit lane.

Now, Klaus Ludwig retains the lead, but only just by the skin of his teeth.  The #1 Jaguar is closing, fast.  Martin Brundle should be at the wheel of it.  Beg your pardon, John Nielsen is currently at the controls with Jaguar’s second, third and fourth.    Andy Wallace, Martin Brundle, and John Nielsen will all share car #1 according to Tom Walkinshaw, the team owner at TWR Jaguar, and chief mechanic/race strategist, Roger Sillman.  #3 has the new 48 valve V12 experimental engine in the back of it, and again, the drivers are Ulsterman John Watson, ex F1 driver, and IndyCar driver, Davy Jones, who in later years would go on to much success with the Jaguar team.  Jaguar has been leading, only to be derailed by a punctured tire, and so, Klaus Ludwig now brings Joest Porsche back into the lead.

The see saw battle here at Brands Hatch is fascinating to watch.  For the aforementioned #3 Jaguar, it’s game over.  The experimental 48 valve V12 lump in the back of that XJR9 has gone ka-blammo.  Old #7 comes in for a pit stop.  Fuel, tires and a driver change for this car, but they are having some trouble as Bob Wollek takes ovrr the car.  Jan  Lammers with the #2 Jaguar takes over the lead.  Can he win a race after his Le Mans triumph?  The answer is, no.  The #2 Jaguar XJR9 has an electrical fire, and it’s game over, meaning one Jaguar is left in this race at Brands Hatch.

Whoops!  It’s a bit of Ross & Roll for Antoine Salamin as he takes his turn on the merry-go-round, and spins his Porsche 962.  He will continue, but his tires are cubed and his race, pear shaped.  Salamin incidentally, shares his Porsche with fellow Swiss driver Jean Denis Deletraz, and the Italian, Giovanni Lavaggi, whose name in Italian, literally translates to Johnny Carwash in English.  A car wash is autolavaggio in Italian.  No pear shaped race for Jaguar, however.

They have another scheduled pit stop.  Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm will win C2, and finish fourth overall.  Jaguar is going to win with Martin Brundle, John Nielsen, and Andy Wallace.  In second, Bob Wollek and Klaus Ludwig in the #7 Joest Blaupunkt Porsche, and recovering beautifully after cubing his tires in that spin, Mauro Baldi and co-driver Jean Louis Schlesser, at the wheel of the #61 Sauber C9/88 Mercedes!  But, it’s victory at home, in England, once more, for Jaguar!  Now, one more bit of drama.  Remember Stephen Hynes?  Well, he got his Tiga C2 car fixed after the accident, but right at the end of the motor race, Hynes loses a wheel!

You’ve picked a fine time to leave me, loose wheel.  Here’s more irony.  Yes, you’ve guessed it.  That wheel off of Hines’ C2 racer nearly clattered into the Sauber Mercedes as it crossed the finish line in third spot!  Whew!  What a race at Brands Hatch!  Yours truly will need a rest after covering this one. Here’s the top ten from the Brands Hatch 1,000 Kilometers.

  1. #1 Nielsen/Wallace/Brundle Jaguar XJR9         Silk Cut Jaguar
  2. #7 Ludwig/Wollek Porsche 962C     Blaupunkt-Joest Racing
  3. #61 Baldi/Schlesser Sauber C9/88 Mercedes                               Team Sauber Mercedes
  4. #111 Spice/Bellm Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth         BP Spice Engineering*
  5. #103 Coppelli/Thyrring Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth         BP Spice Engineering
  6. #121 Los/Taylor Spice SE87C Ford Cosworth         GP Motorsport
  7. #40 Salamin/Lavaggi/Deletraz Porsche 962C     Swiss Team Salamin
  8. #107 Ballot-Lena/Ricci Spice SE88C Ford Cosworh  Chamberlain Engineering
  9. #109 Randaccio/Gellini/Veninata Tiga GC288 Ford Cosworth     Kelmar Racing
  10. #117 Hoy/Schanche Argo JM19C Ford Cosworth   Team Lucky Strike Schanche

Four races left in the championship.  Next up, it’s the Nurburgring in Germany.  But after their dramas today, are Mercedes’ mathematical chances to be champions, over?  Has their dream been shattered?  We’ll have to see.

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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