The finale of the 1988 World Sports Car Championship, is the 360 kilometer sprint race at Sandown Park in Queensland, Australia, the finale of the series for the first time, since 1984. It is high summer in Australia, and the southern hemisphere of the globe. Sandown Park is a dual purpose racing venue for two types of horsepower. There’s the four hooved variety, horse racing, and the four wheeled variety, motor racing. We are located just outside the cosmopolitan town of Melbourne, Australia. Martin Brundle is indeed champion, having scored 255 points so far this year, winning by 16 markers over Jean Louis Schlesser who is on 239 points. The points order is as follows:
- Martin Brundle GBR. 255 points
- Jean Louis Schlesser FRA. 239 points
- Mauro Baldi ITA. 183 points
- Eddie Cheever USA 170 points
- Jochen Mass GER. 160 points
- Klaus Ludwig GER. 145 points
- John Winter GER. 143 points
Here are the teams’ points going into Sandown. The story all year has been Jaguar vs. Mercedes, with Porsche getting an occasional look in every so often.
- Silk Cut Jaguar GBR. 345 points
- Sauber Mercedes CH. 258 points
- Joest Racing GER. 189 points
- Brun Motorsport CH. 94 points
- Porsche AG GER. 75 points
- Spice Engineering GBR. 70 points
Joest Porsche has been the fastest Porsche team as the factory cars from Stuttgart have pulled out. All their efforts are focused towards IndyCar, and lets hope we see them back in World Sports Car competition before too long. Sauber Mercedes dominate practice at Sandown and they will be 1-2 on the grid. Jean Louis Schlesser and Jochen Mass have done well. It’s going to be a difficult race for Mercedes, fighting Jaguar, fuel consumption, and the weather.
Mercedes’ advantage is in their turbocharging, and also, their Michelin tires. Stefan Johansson says Mercedes has a great chance, and the fuel consumption will be a big deal. Johansson is enjoying Group C because it is more relaxed than Formula 1. Sauber Mercedes are the quickest cars at Sandown. Eddie Cheever says Sandown will be the most difficult race of the year, and Mercedes has the edge as Sandown has two drag strips with a few little chicanes in the middle. Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries have won Le Mans, and they hope to get back on track. Lammers is confident they can win.
Sauber Mercedes have come along in leaps and bounds. It’s normally aspirated Jaguar V12 vs. turbocharged Mercedes V8, and the tire war is there, too, with Dunlop for Jaguar, and Michelin for Mercedes. No rain forecast, and you can see from a long helicopter shot, the grass horse racing track in the middle of the circuit. As we get this race underway, we’ll go for a lap around Sandown to show you the course. The circuit is 3.9 kilometers in length, (2.437 miles). It is very twisty, especially in the middle section of the course. There’s a quick left hand corner before an s curve, a 90 degree left hander before right left kink down the short straight. The back straight, leads to a double left hander through a hairpin, to another left kink and a long right hander, coming back out to a double left hander and back onto the straightaway to complete the lap.
There will be one pit stop and one drivr change in this race. Let’s have a quick look at the 18 car grid for this race, with relatively few Porsche’s making the trip “Down Under” to Australia.
- #61 Schlesser/Mass Sauber C9/88 Mercedes Team Sauber Mercedes
- #62 Baldi/Johansson Sauber C9/88 Mercedes Team Sauber Mercedes
- #2 Lammers/Dumfries Jaguar XJR-9 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #1 Cheever/Brundle Jaguar XJR-9 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #111 Spice/Bellm Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth Spice Engineering
- #20 Lee-Davey/Crang/Dodd-Noble Porsche 962C Team Davey
- #107 Ricci/Ballot-Lena Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth Chamberlain Engineering
- #26 Bowe/Johnson Veskanda C1 Chevrolet Ves Kanda Racing
- #103 Salazar/Thyrring Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth BP Spice Engineering
- #121 de Henning/Los Spice SE87C Ford Cosworth GP Motorsport
- #127 Miedecke/Adams Spice SE86C Hart Chamberlain Engineering
- #115 Abrahamas/Smith/Seton ADA 03 Ford Cosworth ADA Engineering
- #109 Sebastiani/Randaccio Tiga GC288 Ford Cosworth Kelmar Racing
- #40 Lavaggi/Salamin Porsche 962C Swiss Team Salamin
- #178 Lateste/Descartes/Lacaud ALD 03 BMW Automobiles Louis Descartes
- #124 Rousselot/Messaoudi Argo JM19C Ford Cosworth MT Sport Racing
- #198 Hall/Bartlett/Andrews Tiga GC286 Ford Cosworth Roy Baker Racing
- #183 Gall/Maurer Maurer C87 BMW Maurer
One formation lap, and then we will be off and racing for the final time in 1988. 20 years ago at Jarama, in 1968, in the days of the Ford GT 40 and Porsche 908, that is when the World Sports Car Championship truly began in earnest. The cars follow in an orderly line behind the Holden Commodore safety car. Green lights, on! We’re racing for the final time in 1988! But we see that Thorkild Thyrring, the Dane is already having issues in his C2 class Spice he shares with Chilean veteran Eliseo Salazar, who has run in F1 and would go on to race IndyCar and more sports cars through his career.
Mercedes take the lead right off the start. Jean Louis Schlesser leads Mauro Baldi. The track here at Sandown has at least eight second gear corners, and is really twisty. You would think the V12 normally aspirated Jaguars would be leading, but alas, it is the turbo V8 Mercedes that is doing surprisingly well in the early going. The turbo V8 lump that powers both of the Mercedes’ has far more low end torque which you need to get off the exits of these slow corners.
Mercedes has thus shocked Jaguar as far as the competitiveness level. Car #61 with Jean Louis Schlesser at the controls, leads the sister Mercedes #62 in the hands of Mauro Baldi. In third it is the #1 Silk Cut Jaguar driven by the new world sports car racing champion, Martin Brundle. Jan Lammers follows in the sister Le Mans winning #2 Jaguar he shares with Johnny Dumfries, and Gordon Spice, the world champion in C2, is fifth overall. Yes, there are seagulls here at Sandown and they’d best fly away to avoid become instant roadkill as these Group C monsters flash past at high speeds. We have a view from the onboard camera inside the Sauber Mercedes and Jean Louis Schlesser wrestles the big brute around Sandown Park.
The bumpy nature of the track does make the Group C sports cars hard to drive. Remember now, these cars, no matter what engine configuration they’re running, flat six turbo, V6 turbo, V8 turbo, normally aspirated V12, they all have around 1,000 horsepower for the driver to play with under his right foot. Mauro Baldi and Stefan Johansson are right in the wheel tracks of their sister car, the Jean Louis Schlesser and Jochen Mass Mercedes. Jan Lammers has the Jaguar in third, and of course, the highlight of his season, winning the 56th renewal of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the biggest sports car race in the world.
C2 World Champion Gordon Spice makes the pass on the Porsche 962 of Tim Lee-Davey. But, at the front of the field, in a race that has seen little to no incident, and has been very exciting, Jean Louis Schlesser and Jochen Mass, they get redemption for not winning the world title, by scoring victory in the finale here at Sandown Park in Australia! Mauro Baldi and Stefan Johansson finish second, making it a Sauber Mercedes 1-2 and making team boss Peter Sauber and chief mechanic Max Welti, very, very happy. Jaguar scores third and fourth, and they’ve won the world championship with Martin Brundle. So ends the 1988 World Sports Car Championship. Porsche’s domination was gone. Mercedes and Jaguar had basically split the season. Six wins to Jaguar, and five wins to Mercedes.
So, here are the final results from Sandown, and the final points standings.
- #61 Schlesser/Mass Sauber C9-88 Mercedes Sauber Mercedes
- #62 Baldi/Johansson Sauber C9-88 Mercedes Sauber Mercedes
- #1 Brundle/Cheever Jaguar XJR9 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #2 Lammers/Dumfries Jaguar XJR9 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #111 Spice/Bellm Spice SE88C Ford Cosworth Spice Engineering
- #20 Lee-Davey/Crang Porsche 962C Team Davey
Here is how the 1988 teams points table turned out after the closer at Sandown, Down Under.
- Silk Cut Jaguar 357 points
- Sauber Mercedes 278 points
- Joest Racing 189 points
- Brun Motorsport 94 points
- Spice Engineering 78 points
- Porsche AG 75 points
Here are the drivers’ championship final points as well, calculating each driver’s best of seven scores for the totals.
- Martin Brundle 240 points
- Jean Louis Schlesser 213 points
- Mauro Baldi 188 points
- Eddie Cheever USA 182 points
- Jochen Mass 180 points
- Klaus Ludwig 145 points
1989 will see a new format for the World Championship as the races with the exception of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will no longer be endurance events, but instead, they will become three hour sprint races for the most part. Nine races will make up the championship series. Alfa Romeo and Peugeot will be entering the championship in 1990 and 1991 so the announcements say. Sports car racing will survive and thrive as the 1990s come along. We’ll see you in 1989, for more action, and many more sprint races. Bring on ’89. So long and, take care, everybody.