Mercedes dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and after that, we move on to race at Circuito de Jarama, in Jarama, Spain. Now, a wrinkle for this race, which is basically the halfway mark in the championship, is that because of a restrictive pit/garage area, the Jarama round is an optional race for teams to participate in. The same number of teams of which there are available pit spaces at Jarama, made the trip. Joest Porsche is absent, choosing to stay in Germany to race at the Norisring, and likewise, so did the Repsol Brun Porsche squad, Richard Lloyd Racing, and Aston Martin.
So, Jarama sees somewhat of a depleted grid with just 23 starters. It was a Mercedes front row lockout with Mauro Baldi and Kenny Acheson on pole, with Jean Louis Schlesser and Jochen Mass alongside. Jaguar also locks out the second row of the grid. Toyota and Nissan fill out the top six. Lights out, and away we go, at Jarama! We’re off and running! In efficient fashion, the team got their tire problems sorted out and for the first time, the front row was a familiar pair of silver shaped sports cars. Jaguar, Toyota, Nissan, and the brace of privately entered Porsche’s follows, but there’s no doubt that Mercedes leads once again.
Jaguar is seemingly the best of the rest, with Nissan and Toyota, the Japanese marques giving chase. The two yellow Spice cars are right there as well, looking to upset the apple cart among the factory teams. Car #21 is being shared by Ray Bellm and Chilean driver Eliseo Salazar, while the sister #22 has at the wheel of it, Dane Thorkild Thyrring, and South African, Wayne Taylor. The smaller, lighter, more agile 3.5 liter cars close up on the bigger cars like the Jaguar’s and the Mercedes’ which outweight them almost 2 to 1. At the sharp end, however, it remains the same song, second verse. Mercedes, Mercedes 1-2, followed by Jaguar, Jaguar 3-4, and Toyota and Nissan, 5-6.
Now, this apple cart was nearly upset when Ray Bellm tried a banzai move down the inside in a corner, and the bloke paid the price for it, spinning himself off the road. This is the former Group C2 champion, remember, who won in the mid-1980s. Johnny Dumfries, going Marco Solo in the Toyota due to an injury for Geoff Lees, got away with it, but lost time. Both Mercedes are well out in front of the pack and are in a race of their own. Meanwhile, Jaguar are being challenged by the #6 Repsol Brun Porsche 962, Oscar Larrauri, the vastly experienced Argentinian at the wheel of it.
Larrauri is sharing the car, as ever, with Spaniard Jesus Pareja. Going through the back markers, we can see the Mercedes boys get into a little argy bargy. Leadership battles are becoming a practical proposition for the outcome of the championship at Mercedes Benz. Brun Porsche are in the lane for a new nose. Obligatory pit stops force drivers to overtake and challenge for position rather than a train of cars forming, running liner stern for the whole of the motor race. Mercedes still leads, but Jaguar seems to be at their most competitive, right at the top of their game, here at Jarama.
Jan Lammers is on a mission, to catch the Mercedes, and thus, it seems unbelievable how uncompetitive the Silk Cut Jaguar has been during the season to date. Now, Jaguar have already run their new spec car on the IMSA Camel GT circuit back in the United States, and is desperately needed for them in WSPC. We can see that Jan Lammers is running wide on the exits of the corners here at Jarama, which tells you his tires are going away, and there’s a lack of grip. Mercedes has more trouble to deal with. At Dijon last time out it was tires. But now, here at Jarama, the brakes are the culprit.
Both cars are dealing with braking issues, but it’s the duo in #61 of Mauro Baldi and Kenny Acheson, that have to really struggle through it. The brakes are overheating, boiling away the brake fluid. So, on every pit stop, the pit crew has to bleed the whole brake system, and then, top it up with fresh brake fluid. It’s also game over for the Bellm/Taylor Spice. A minor fire has cooked the car, essentially, and has put the yellow Spice out of the race. The brake problems have split up the Mercedes duo and have allowed the Jaguar #1 of Jan Lammers and Patrick Tambay to inherit second spot.
Mercedes win here at Jarama, but Jaguar are back on form, in the same style that took them to the world championship a year ago, in 1988. Jochen Mass and Jean Louis Schlesser are your winners at Jarama, as only one Mercedes ends up on the podium despite the two cars crossing the finish line together. Larrauri and Pareja finish third. So, the top six finishers at Jarama are:
- #62 Schlesser/Mass Sauber C9/88 Mercedes Team Sauber Mercedes
- #1 Lammers/Tambay Jaguar XJR9 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #6 Larrauri/Pareja Porsche 962C Repsol Brun Motorsport
- #22 Thyrring/Taylor Spice SE89C Ford Cosworth Spice Engineering
- #61 Baldi/Acheson Sauber C9/88 Mercedes Team Sauber Mercedes
- #2 Nielsen/Wallace Jaguar XJR9 Silk Cut Jaguar
The next race is the first of two for the WSPC in Great Britain, at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, England, in a shade less than a month.