Round 8: Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometers, Nurburgring, Nurburg, Germany, September 4th, 1988

Next up, we visit the historic town of Adenauer, Germany, on our way to the new, shorter, and safer version of the Nurburgring for the Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometers.  Time is of the essence in the World Sports Car Championship for 1988, with just three races to go after this one.  The heavens have opened here at the Nurburgring, big style.  Mercedes has the edge in practice with their #62 machine that has been rebuilt after the massive wreck at Brands Hatch, and the car will be driven around the Nurburgring by Mauro Baldi, and Sweden’s Stefan Johansson, making a return to sports car racing.

The fastest Jaguar is the #2 Jan Lammers/Johnny Dumfries car.  Martin Brundle will share the #1 Jaguar here at the Nurburgring, with Eddie Cheever.  Both Mercedes’ and one Joest Racing Porsche 962 have run quicker than the two factory works Jaguars;.  Now, the race organizers here at the Nurburgring, have a plan to split the 1,000 kilometer event into two halves.  The plan is to run one in the daytime, and one at night, to emulate the 24 Hours of Le Mans.  The first half is slated to begin on Saturday afternoon and run into the dark of night.

There’s been a 24 hour race for production cars on the Nordschleife for years.  The driver’s fear that racing on the new short course in the darkness, isn’t safe.  It is especially worrisome in the wet, and if there’s fog.  The drivers are appealing to the FIA and to the Nurburgring organizers to bring the start of the race forward to avoid running for a long period in the darkness.  You have people advocating for an earlier race start like both Jochen Mass and Jean Louis Schlesser for Mercedes, and the owner of Brun Motorsport, Walter Brun, running his privateer 962s.  Other drivers such as Mercedes’ Stefan Johansson and Eddie Cheever for Jaguar, also lobby to have the race start time moved forward for the sake of safety.

This meeting seems to have been productive as the organizers are listening to the fears of drivers and team bosses alike about racing in the rain and the dark.  Eddie Cheever is running his first WSC race since Silverstone, since he also drives in Formula 1 for the Arrows team.  He sees no point of racing at night at the Nurburgring.  There is no history of racing at night on the new track.  The darkness and the bleak weather is a mix that could create disaster, especially risking hurting the marshals.  Cheever believes that the argument of egos is what’s clashing.

He believe the drivers’ safety is paramount, while the organizers still want to thrill the fans with night racing, which puts the safety of the drivers at risk.  If the rain falls at 7PM, the scheduled start of the race, the teams will decide that it is too dangerous, and they will protest/boycott the event.  Jaguar has lights on their cars, but the new Nurburgring is not set up for night racing.  You can’t see the marshals or the circuit.  Jochen Mass for Mercedes says something might happen with the conditions, and the organizers should move the race forward to get it in.

He says that insisting to do the race at night when there won’t be as many spectators and the race will not be covered on television, is not a good idea.  He says he’ll start the race but the fuel is also a concern.  Two years ago, in 1986, at this very race, it rained, and threw the fuel strategy situation into disarray.  Bring the start time forward, or don’t race at all today and wait until Sunday.  Mauro Baldi at the wheel of the #62 Sauber Mercedes is 8/10ths of a second quicker than anyone else during practice.  Baldi is on pole and he too says that racing in the rain is going to be very hard and very unsafe.

Stefan Johansson is also racing in Formula 1 for Ligier in 1988.  He shares the #62 Mercedes with Baldi, and alongside them in the sister car are it’s usual drivers, Jochen Mass and Jean Louis Schlesser.  Third quickest, the #7 Joest Racing Porsche 962C being shared by Bob Wollek of France and Italy’s Paolo Barilla.  Then comes Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries in the #2 Jaguar, the Flying Dutchman sharing with the Scottish aristocrat.  The manufacturer’s championship is at stake.  Jan Lammers likes driving in the wet, but is not too happy about the Jaguar’s handling.

Martin Brundle in the sister car had his time disallowed.  Then comes Brundle alongside Eddie Cheever in Jaguar #1, followed by the #8 Joest Racing Porsche of Frank Jelinski and John Winter, with the #6 Brun Motorsport Porsche 962 of Manuel Reuter and Jesus Pareja, the German and the Spaniard.  Then comes Jochen Dauer, the German, driving with Franz Konrad from Austria in the #16 Victor Dauer Racing Porsche 962, and completing the top ten places, the #10 Kremer Porsche 962C of Germany’s Volker Weidler and Italian Bruno Giacomelli.

Before we begin this race, let’s look at the full starting grid of 30 cars.

  1. #62 Baldi/Johansson Sauber C9/88 Mercedes                               Sauber Mercedes
  2. #61 Schlesser/Mass Sauber C9/88 Mercedes                                 Sauber Mercedes
  3. #7 Wollek/Barilla/Streiff Porsche 962C                               Blaupunkt Joest Racing
  4. #2 Lammers/Dumfries   Jaguar XJR9                                   Silk Cut Jaguar
  5. #1 Cheever/Brundle   Jaguar XJR9                                       Silk Cut Jaguar
  6. #8 Jelinski/Winter Porsche 962C                                          Blaupunkt Joest Racing
  7. #6 Reuter/Pareja            Porsche 962C                                 Brun Motorsport
  8. #16 Dauer/Konrad Porsche 962C                                         Victor Dauer Racing
  9. #10 Weidler/Giacomelli Porsche 962C                                Porsche Kremer Racing
  10. #4 Brun/Huysman Porsche 962C                                         Brun Motorsport
  11. #5 Schafer/Larrauri Porsche 962C                                      Brun Motorsport
  12. #121 Los/Taylor Spice SE87C Ford Cosworth                    GP Motorsports
  13. #111 Bellm/Spice Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth                  BP Spice Engineering
  14. #40 Salamin/Lavaggi Porsche 962C                                    Swiss Team Salamin
  15. #14 Hobbs/Donnelly Porsche 962C GTi                              Richard Lloyd Racing
  16. #127 Williams/Adams/Jones Spice SE86C Ford Cosworth  Chamberlain Engineering
  17. #103 Thyrring/Coppelli Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth           BP Spice Engineering
  18. #107 Ballot-Lena/Ricci Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth            Chamberlain Engineering
  19. #24 Frey/Giangrossi Lancia LC2/88                                        Dollop Racing
  20. #109 Gellini/Randaccio Tiga GC288 Ford Cosworth           Kelmar Racing
  21. #117 Chauvet/Smith Argo JM19C Ford Cosworth              Team Lucky Strike Schanche
  22. #106 Veninata/Barberio Tiga GC288 Ford Cosworth        Kelmar Racing
  23. #160 Mudas/Neuberger/Seher Gebhardt JC873 Ford Cosworth  Gebhardt Motorsport
  24. #191 Piper/Iacobelli Argo JM19C Ford Cosworth                           C. Automotive
  25. #177 Lacaud/Tremblay/Descartes ALD 04 BMW                            Louis Descartes
  26. #183 Maurer/Gall/Doren Maurer C87 BMW                                    Walter Maurer
  27. #151 Lombardi/Sotty/Lecerf Spice SE86C Ford Cosworth  Pierre Alain Lombardi
  28. #198 Sheldon/Crang Tiga GC286 Ford Cosworth                  Roy Baker Racing
  29. #124 Rousselot/Messaoudi Argo JM19C Ford Cosworth      MT Sport Racing
  30. #20 Lee-Davey/Dodd-Noble/Oberndorfer Porsche 962C      Tim Lee Davey

Even here in West Germany, in the wet, a Jaguar XJ-S is the safety car, as the field streams around on a sopping wet track.  The diabolical conditions mean that whole field processes behind the safety car for three exploratory laps, to get used to the wet.  But now, the safety car pulls off and we will turn them loose.  Green lights on!  We’re racing at Nurburgring.  The Sauber Mercedes’ lead the way right off the start.  But the Jaguar ducks its nose right past the black AEG sponsored missile, going into the lead.  The crucial factor is if the teams chose the right wet weather tire compound.  It’s still a tire war, Michelin for Mercedes, and Dunlop for Jaguar.

Right now, Jaguar has the edge as Jan Lammers moves ahead of Mauro Baldi.  Lammers as always, sharing with Johnny Dumfries.  There isn’t an advantage for the turbo cars in the wet, namely the Mercedes’ and the Porsche’s.  Because of the slower speeds in the rain here at the Nurburgring, the usual fuel consumption planning can be tossed right out the window.  Group C cars, after all, are tuned so that they have a maximum of 1,000 break horsepower available.  Martin Schanche goes off the road in his Argo, and he’s used to off road driving, coming from a rallycross background.

That being said, a Group C sports car really shouldn’t go off road.  Now, Jan Lammers is flying and is one of the rainmeister’s here in the World Sports Car Championship.  Meanwhile, whoops!  Walter Brun puts the #4 Porsche 962C on the whirligig.  Well, fortunately there, it wasn’t a complete spin.  It was just a real long sideways drift.  We have a full course yellow on the circuit, and the safety car is dispatched.  Fog has been descending on the circuit just a bit.  No worries mate.  The ceiling is lifting.  They’ve got more than an hour or so of racing, at night.

It’s wild, isn’t it?  The headlights are on in the mist and fog, and the driver’s and team bosses know ten times better than do the organizers that these conditions are tricky at best, questionable at worst.  We’ve seen two rounds of pit stops and as darkness falls, Jean Louis Schlesser and Jochen Mass have the Sauber Mercedes in P1.  But, the challenge from Jaguar looks to be curtailed.  Johnny Dumfries was closing in hand over fist on the Mercedes until he got balked and had a dust up with Manuel Reuter in the #6 Brun Motorsport Porsche 962C.  This means Dumfries still finishes, but does so in second behind the Mercedes.  In third, it’s Martin Brundle and Eddie Cheever in the second Jaguar.

Sunday morning, now, and it is time for part two of this motor race to commence.  Now, we are ready to get underway with the second 500 kilometer race that will make up the Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometers.  500 kilometers, 312 miles are ahead.  We have more rain and awful weather on Sunday, here at the Nurburgring.  How will part two of this motor race play out?  Now, the second Sauber Mercedes, car #61 had finished seventh in the Saturday race.  But, as we get underway on Sunday, in equally dreadful and rainy conditions here at the Nurburgring, it is languishing in seventh and might not go too far.  It’s lights out, and begrudgingly, away we go, through the rooster tails of spray.  Mercedes #62 spins off the road off the final corner even before the race starts, putting it’s sister car, #61, as the only Mercedes in real contention for overall victory.

Schlesser and Mass won race one yesterday.  Jochen Mass and Jean Louis Schlesser lead on this track.  Nurburgring is wet.  Isn’t it always?  Well, not always, but when it rains, it pours here in the Eiffel mountains.  Johnny Dumfries went extremely well in race one, but race two isn’t going to plan for him as he spins off the circuit.  Exit one Sauber Mercedes, and exit one Silk Cut Jaguar.  Both teams are now equal with one bullet in the gun, each.  Obviously, a couple of these drivers woke up in a fog as thick as the rain is this morning at the track, and didn’t use their heads, choosing to leave any common sense on in the hotel room overnight.

This is a race Jean Louis Schlesser has to win to have a shot at the championship.  The best seven races out of the eleven that make up the season, will count.  Because of Schlesser’s success, he will need to drop points, while Martin Brundle in the Jaguar, he has yet to score any points in all of the ’88 races to this point.  Both race times from the two 500 kilometer races will be added together now, to create the overall result.  We see Schlesser coming back on track after a routine visit to the pit lane.  Pretty simple idea, per the German organizers.  OK, chaps, that was sarcasm.  If you think it is simple for yours truly, I can only imagine the poor old spectators who have gotten absolutely soaked trying to enjoy watching a motor race.

Now, spoiler alert!  Jaguar had this race in the bag, but four laps from home, their V12 engine coughs and sputters.  Sauber Mercedes retakes the lead from the ailing V12 Jaguar and goes on to sweep the two races here at the Nurburgring.  Let’s take a look at the results of the doubleheader from the Nurburgring.

  1. #61 Schlesser/Mass Sauber C9-88 Mercedes     Team Sauber Mercedes
  2. #1 Cheever/Brundle Jaguar XJR9                         Silk Cut Jaguar
  3. #7 Wollek/Barilla Porsche 962C                           Blaupunkt-Joest Racing
  4. #8 Jelinski/Winter Porsche 962C                         Blaupunkt-Joest Racing
  5. #6 Reuter/Pareja Porsche 962C                            Brun Motorsport
  6. #4 Brun/Huysman Porsche 962C                         Brun Motorsport
  7. #14 Hobbs/Donnelly Porsche 962C GTi              Richard Lloyd Racing
  8. #2 Lammers/Dumfries Jaguar XJR9                    Silk Cut Jaguar
  9. #40 Salamin/Lavaggi Porsche 962C                    Swiss Team Salamin
  10. #10 Weidler/Giacomelli Porsche 962C               Porsche Kremer Racing

Incidentally, the top ten is filled with C1 cars.  The C2 winner finishing 12th overall.  It is the #106 Kelmar Racing Tiga.

C2 Winner: #106 Veninata/Barberio        Tiga GC288 Ford Cosworth           Kelmar Racing

Congratulations to Vito Veninata and Pasquale Barberio, the two Italians, who win C2 at Nurburgring.  Only three races left to run in the 1988 Group C sports car season.  Next up on the calendar, as the races dwindle in number, it is another legendary circuit, the mighty Spa Francorchamps in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, 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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