Round 10: Fuji 1,000 Kilometers, Fuji Speedway, Fuji, Japan, October 9th, 1988

Kon’nichiwa, from the majestic Mount Fuji in Japan, as we are set for the penultimate race of the 1988 World Sports Car Championship.  All eyes are on the fight for the World Drivers’ Championship here at Fuji in Japan.  Also, Mount Fuji will see the last return of the factory Porsche team.  With Omron sponsorship, the #17 Porsche 962C is entered by Porsche AG for Klaus Ludwig, and American driver, Price Cobb.  For the final time, they will enter a Group C sports car race as their racing focus has shifted towards the open wheeled IndyCar championship in the United States.  Teo Fabi from Italy, is driving the IndyCar with Quaker State motor oil sponsorship, and some success.

Klaus Ludwig puts the #17 car fourth quickest in practice in a massive entry of 35 cars here at Fuji.  Bruno Giacomelli of Italy and Oscar Larrauri of Argentina have the #11 Kremer Porsche 962C in Leyton House colors, qualified well here at Fuji.  Recall that Brun won the teams’ championship here at Fuji, in 1986.  Eddie Cheever discusses strategy with his team at Silk Cut Jaguar.  Jaguar has reversed their driver lineups back to their usual status here in Japan.  Eddie Cheever and Martin Brundle share car #1 while Johnny Dumfries and Jan Lammers are teamed up in the #2 car.

John Nielsen, the Dane, is here as a reserve driver.  In practice, it was wet and interspersed by occasional dry periods.  One of the privateer Porsche’s actually held sway at the top of the timesheets in practice for a while.  John Nielsen has had much success with Jaguar in IMSA in the United States, having won the 24 Hours of Daytona, but of course, the ’88 crown in America went to Australia’s Geoff Brabham, driving for the Nissan team.  Michelin has done very well as tire supplier for Sauber Mercedes this year, and Mercedes could still be in with a shout of winning the driver’s championship if they do well here in Japan and at the finale in Australia that you’ll hear about soon.

Jean Louis Schlesser still leads the drivers’ championship and he’s shown much promise this year.  Mercedes still has to drop some points if they want to win the title.  Japan is well represented in their home race with factory efforts from Mazda, Toyota, and Nissan.  It is very wet in practice at Fuji, but this doesn’t deter the spectators from turning out to see the race.  85,000 people are jam packed into the grandstand here at Fuji to see the race.  We seem to have a keen eye not just for pretty sports cars, but also, pretty girls surrounding the sports cars as they are on the grid.

This massive 35 car grid will be led by the privately entered #27 From A Racing Porsche 962C out of Japan, driven by Sweden’s Stanley Dickens and Japan’s own Hideki Okada.  Second on the grid is the #32 turbocharged Nissan R88C with it’s 3.0 liter turbo V8 in a March built chassis for Masahiro Hasemi and Aguri Suzuki.  Suzuki is the 1988 Japanese Formula 3000 champion, transitioning from open wheel to sports cars.  Silk Cut Jaguar qualified sixth and seventh and the team is confident they can win.  When you get to the top level of racing, there are no excuses for not going fast.

There are a number of permutations between Mercedes and Jaguar in the drivers’ championship.  Jean Louis Schlesser knows he has to win to earn the title.  This is the first time Mercedes has raced at Fuji.  Klaus Ludwig hopes to do well with Porsche in their final race for the Porsche factory for a while it seems.  It will be very hard for Porsche to keep up with Mercedes and Jaguar.  Hans Stuck is not feeling well, and he has been running in IMSA GTP in the U.S., as Price Cobb has as well.  Porsche has a decided disadvantage against Jaguar and Mercedes, as well as the favorites from Japan like Nissan and Toyota.

Keep in mind this is also a round of the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, and the Fuji Long Distance Series as well.  Let’s take a look as this is a marvelous grid assembled for the Fuji 1,000 Kilometers.

  1. #27 Okada/Dickens Porsche 962C      From A Racing
  2. #32 Hasemi/Suzuki Nissan R88C        Nissan Motorsports
  3. #62 Baldi/Streiff Sauber  C9/88 Mercedes  Team Sauber Mercedes
  4. #17 Ludwig/Cobb Porsche 962C  Omron Porsche AG
  5. #36 Lees/Sekiya/Suzuki Toyota 88C-V  Toyota Team Tom’s
  6. #2 Lammers/Dumfries Jaguar XJR9  Silk Cut Jaguar
  7. #1 Brundle/Cheever Jaguar XJR9  Silk Cut Jaguar
  8. #61 Schlesser/Mass/Acheson Sauber C9/88 Mercedes  Team Sauber Mercedes
  9. #8 Jelinski/Winter Porsche 962C  Joest Racing
  10. #100 Fouche/Schuppan/van der Merwe Porsche 962C GTi          Trust Racing Team
  11. #23 Hoshino/Takahashi/Grice Nissan R88C  Nissan Motorsports
  12. #25 Takahashi/Mogi Porsche 962C  Advan Alpha Nova
  13. #33 Bell/Redman Porsche 962C  Takefuji Racing Team
  14. #99 Elgh/Sandro Sala Porsche 962C  Rothmans Porsche Team Schuppan
  15. #86 Wada/Olofsson March 88S Nissan  Italya Racing Team (Team Le Mans)
  16. #37 Johansson/Barilla/Ogawa Toyota 88C-V  Toyota Team Tom’s
  17. #201 Yorino/Katayama/Dieudonne Mazda 767  Mazdaspeed
  18. #7 Wollek/Grohs/Ludwig Porsche 962C  Joest Racing
  19. #77 Needell/Moretti/Huysman Porsche 962C  Memorex Telex Racing Team
  20. #11 Larrauri/Giacomelli Porsche 962C  Leyton House with Porsche Kremer
  21. #10 Weidler/Reuter Porsche 962 CK6  Porsche Kremer Racing
  22. #28 Nagasaka/Hoshino/Kageyama Porsche 962C  Leyton House Racing Team
  23. #202 Terada/Kennedy Mazda 767  Mazdaspeed
  24. #85 Suzuki/Morimoto March 88S Nissan  Person’s Racing Team (Team Le Mans)
  25. #45 Gilbert-Scott/Andskar Toyota 87C  Auto Beaurex Motorsport
  26. #111 Spice/Bellm Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth  BP Spice Engineering
  27. #103 Salazar/Thyrring Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth BP Spice Engineering
  28. #107 Ricci/Ballot-Lena/Khan Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth  Chamberlain Engineering
  29. #50 Donnelly/Dauer/Sasaki SARD MC88S Toyota  SARD
  30. #121 Los/Hessert/Taylor Spice SE87C Ford Cosworth  Cosmik GPM
  31. #171 Fukuyama/Yoneyama/Misaki JTK 63C Ford Cosworth  British Barn Racing Team
  32. #127 Abrahams/Murphy/Khan Spice SE86C Hart Chamberlain Engineering
  33. #106 Randaccio/Veninata Tiga GC288 Ford Cosworth  Kelmar
  34. #20 Lee-Davey/Dodd-Noble/Iketani Porsche 962C  Team Davey
  35. #230 Shiratori/Fujii/Fujieda  Mazda 757  Shizumatsu

Will we see Martin Brundle become a world champion, following in the footsteps of Derek Bell?  The qualifying times for this massive 35 car grid were very close, and so, we expect to see a competitive race over the next 1,000 kilometers.  Tom Walkinshaw is obviously waiting to the last possible moment to see which of his cars Martin Brundle will start in.  The same applies to Mercedes and Jean Louis Schlesser.  Whoever, wins, will be World Champion. No matter, it is time now, to go racing, at Mount Fuji!  The safety car pulls off onto pit lane.    It’s green lights, on, and away we go!

The race begins and we do see the predicted Mercedes and Jaguar sprint at the front, as Klaus Ludwig is also giving it some serious welly in the factory Porsche 962C we are seeing for the final time in the World Sports Car Championship.  Baldi leads with Klaus Ludwig running second.  But, hot on his heels is the #61 sister Mercedes, Jochen Mass at the wheel of it.  Here comes Jan Lammers in the #2 Silk Cut Jaguar as well.  In fifth place, it’s the sister Jaguar, with Eddie Cheever currently at the controls.  Again, we wait to find out the decisions to be made by Martin Brundle at Jaguar and Jean Louis Schlesser at Mercedes for which cars on their teams they will choose to drive and score points in.

All Brundle has to do to win the championship is finish second or better.  Mercedes has to retain a 1-2 formation to win the title and to deny Jaguar glory.  Pit stop time for Mercedes, and we see a problem for Jaguar as Jan Lammers overcooks one of the turns here at Fuji and goes off the road.  He has a punctured tire, and whack!  He hits the barrier.  It is without doubt game over for Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries.  Not just Jaguar, but also, Mercedes runs into problems!  Mauro Baldi takes the leading Mercedes off the road, big style, crashing at the end of the long front straightaway here at Fuji.

To compound the woes of Mercedes, Northern Ireland’s Kenny Acheson at the wheel of the #61 car, has to deal with a really bad misfire in the Mercedes turbo V8 motor.  Boom!  We see some definite argy bargy between the two Kremer Porsche’s.  Don’t take your team mate out!  That’s the first rule in racing.  Well, the blokes driving for Kremer, didn’t listen, and team boss Erwin Kremer will be none too happy.  Jaguar #1 is now remorselessly reeling in the #61 Sauber Mercedes.  The car, is slowing down at a rapid rate.  Martin Brundle and Eddie Cheever take the lead of this motor race as the Mercedes tumbles down the order to fifth place in the overall.  Klaus Ludwig and Price Cobb have secured second place in the final drive for the factory Porsche team.  In third place, it is the #8 Joest Racing car of Frank Jelinski and John Winter with Matsuda Collection and Century Housing sponsorship.  Pole sitter’s Hideki Okada and Stanley Dickens are running fourth overall at the present time.

But, here, at Fuji, after five hours and 20 minutes of no more real drama and just flat out racing, it’s Silk Cut Jaguar, winning the race, with Eddie Cheever and Martin Brundle.  Brundle is the champ!  He wins his first ever World Sports Car Championship!  Spice Engineering, with Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm, they keep the steamroller alive in C2, winning another championship title!  TWR Jaguar doubles up.  Martin Brundle is the driver’s champion, and Silk Cut TWR Jaguar are the 1988 FIA World Sports Car Championship teams’ champions!

Let’s have a look at the top ten results from Fuji.

  1. #1 Brundle/Cheever Jaguar XJR9         Silk Cut Jaguar
  2. #17 Ludwig/Cobb Porsche 962C     Omron Porsche AG
  3. #8 Jelinski/Winter Porsche 962C     Joest Racing
  4. #27 Okada/Dickens Porsche 962C     From A Racing
  5. #61 Schlesser/Mass/Acheson Sauber C9/88 Mercedes  Team Sauber Mercedes
  6. #25 Takahashi/Mogi Porsche 962C  Advan Alpha Nova
  7. #99 Elgh/Sala Porsche 962C  Rothmans Porsche Team Schuppan
  8. #28 Nagasaka/Hoshino/Kageyama Porsche 962C  Leyton House Racing Team
  9. #23 Hoshino/Takahashi/Grice Nissan R88C  Nissan Motorsports
  10. #100 Fouche/Schuppan/van der Merwe Porsche 962C GTi  Trust Racing Team

The winning C2 car is eleventh overall, rthe #103 Spice Engineering Spice Ford Cosworth of Thorkild Thyrring and Eliseo Salazar.

#103 Thyrring/Salazar   Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth   Spice Engineering

One race remains in the championship, as the World Sports Car Championship returns to Australia and the Sandown Motorsports Park in Queensland, Australia, for the first time since 1984.

 

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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