A sweltering hot day greets the drivers in the English countryside of Kent, at the great Brands Hatch circuit. There are 43 entries and 36 of them will take the start of this race, as Jaguar has finally unveiled their new XJR11 now powered by the Jaguar built 3.5 liter turbocharged V6 engine. This is the first appearance of the XJR11 in Europe, although they’ve been very successful back stateside in the IMSA Camel GT Grand Touring Prototype division, which is the American equivalent of Group C in a way.
There are two XJR-11s here at Brands Hatch. #1 to be piloted by Jan Lammers and Patrick Tambay, while #3 sees a duo of American Davy Jones teaming up with Frenchman Alain Ferte, and the #2 Dumfries/Wallace entry is still the tried and true XJR-9 with the V12 lump wedged in the back of it. As the new XJR11’s made their debut on European soil, they were considered so top secret, they were concealed behind closed garage doors, and the engine cover for the new V6 power unit was never removed in the pit lane either. After Jan Lammers qualified alongside Mauro Baldi on the front row, the other teams had to be saying, “wow, what is this strange and amazing new motorcar?” So, the top six qualifiers at Brands Hatch are:
- #1 Lammers/Tambay Jaguar XJR11 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #61 Baldi/Acheson Sauber C9/88 Mercedes Team Sauber Mercedes
- #62 Schlesser/Mass Sauber C9/88 Mercedes Team Sauber Mercedes
- #23 Bailey/Gilbert-Scott Nissan R89C Nissan Motorsport International
- #3 Jones/Ferte Jaguar XJR-11 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #7 Wollek/Jelinski Porsche 962C Blaupunkt Sachs Joest Racing
Out of Clearways they come, it’s green lights, on, and away we go! Deary me! Their four wide in the middle of the pack! Settle down, lads. Even with the new car and new motor, the Jaguars were outgunned by the Silver Arrows into Druids and Pilgrim’s Drop for the first time. Baldi and Schlesser move into the top two, and are off into a scrap of their own once more. Jan Lammers runs fourth, and the Porsche’s are coming on like gangbusters to try and stay with the leaders.
Joest, Repsol Brun, and Richard Lloyd Racing are all hoping to pick up the pieces behind the factory cars, especially RLR as they are on their home turf here at Brands Hatch with sponsorship from Porsche Cars Great Britain, and Derek Bell and Tiff Needell sharing the driving chores. Mercedes battle each other, looking to be under no pressure from the Jaguars. But, Schlesser and Baldi are rivals, just as much as they are team mates. Johnny Dumfries in the Toyota finds himself surrounded on all sides, and from the rear, by Jaguar and Nissan. Where did Nissan come from? Julian Bailey is going like the clappers here, and he’s all over both the second Mercedes and one of the Spice cars.
Bailey is co-driving with Andrew Gilbert-Scott of course. The weak spot on the Nissan is in it’s chassis, as the car is dealing with gobs of understeer. Lola cars, in England, who built the chassis, will have some work to do in that department for the future. Despite the speed and performance, Julian Bailey overcooks it, or, overenthuses it into Clearways corner. James Weaver in the sister Richard Lloyd Racing GTi Porsche 962 also spins off the road at Clearways. Weaver is sharing that car, with David Hunt, brother of 1976 Formula 1 World Champion for McLaren, James Hunt.
Mercedes still run 1-2 as the pit stops come and go. Their braking issues are now seemingly cured. They changed to steel brake discs instead of carbon. They found at Jarama, that the carbon discs overheated way too quickly. Deary me! We have a big shemozzle on the road in the left hand curve behind the pit lane! Wayne Taylor in the Spice, Uwe Schafer in his Porsche 962, and the #8 Joest Porsche of Jean Louis Ricci, are all off the road. Everyone seems to get away with it, but Jean Louis Ricci will retire on the spot with an engine fire. So, it is game over for he, and countryman Henri Pescarolo, the four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans overall winner. If you read the 1984 WSC review, you know well that ’84 was his fourth and final Le Mans triumph. Poor old Jean Louis Ricci pulls the car to a halt, and bails out. Mercedes, despite some off course argy bargy, is still leading this motor race at Brands Hatch and by now, it is established they are the team to beat in WSPC.
Recall, last year, at this race, in 1988, Mercedes had a huge crash where one of their cars was totally written off, and the sister car spun to avoid it. Mercedes and Joest Porsche are running to plan, but Jaguar is not running consistently on home soil. A faultless pit stop and driver change for Mercedes. Mercedes, you guessed it, takes over the lead. The turbocharged Jaguars have proven competitive based on power and handling. But, their reliability is still questionable. They had a pit lane fire and we get a glimpse of the motor, although shrouded in smoke. It was game over for one of the Jaguars, anyway. Mauro Baldi leads for Mercedes, but hot on his heels is the #7 Joest Porsche of Wollek and Jelinski.
Heartbreak for RLR! Tiff Needell has no brakes on his 962, and is pitched into a spin, which results in him… ker-runch!, hitting the Clearways fencing. He is stuffed right into the same spot where James Weaver went off the road shortly before. Jaguar is also off the road, as John Nielsen also suffers brake failure, and stuffs the #2 machine into the barriers. His was at Hawthorne’s Bend and there’s big, big damage to the XJR9, look. So, Jaguar are down to one bullet in the gun, minus one of the old cars and minus one XJR11. John Nielsen reckons this is the heaviest wallop he’s had in a Jaguar and the heaviest wreck of his racing career so far. Fortunately, he is unhurt.
Dear me. More dramas in the closing laps here at Brands Hatch as the Toyota of Johnny Dumfries is crawling to a stop. Dumfries, sharing with Formula 1 veteran John Watson, runs out of petrol within sight of Toyota’s best finish of the ’89 season! Bob Wollek is also in trouble. Now, he is on the reserve fuel pump, but the fuel pump is broken. It is feeding just one bank of cylinders, meaning only three of the six cylinders in the Porsche 962 are receiving fuel. Despite that, the 962 is still running swiftly and proves to be a king size headache for the Mercedes boys.
Baldi and Schlesser are creating their own headaches! Look at that! They split the Porsche going three wide, and one of these blokes if off indulging in some rallycross on the grass! Baldi wins at Brands Hatch with Kenny Acheson. Bob Wollek and Frank Jelinski are second, followed by Jean Louis Schlesser and Jochen Mass, then the Aston Martin of David Leslie and Brian Redman, Jan Lammers and Patrick Tambay give the new Jaguar XJR11 a fifth place finish, and in sixth, Walter Brun and Jesus Pareja in the Repsol Porsche.
- #61 Baldi/Acheson Sauber C9-88 Mercedes Team Sauber Mercedes
- #7 Wollek/Jelinski Porsche 962C Blaupunkt Sachs Joest Racing
- #62 Schlesser/Mass Sauber C9-88 Mercedes Team Sauber Mercedes
- #18 Leslie/Redman Aston Martin AMR1 Aston Martin
- #1 Lammers/Tambay Jaguar XJR-11 Silk Cut Jaguar
- #6 Brun/Pareja Porsche 962C Repsol Brun Motorsport
Here are the driver’s championship points after four races, and the season is now past halfway.
- Jean Louis Schlesser Sauber Mercedes 67 points
- Mauro Baldi Sauber Mercedes 60 points
- Kenny Acheson Sauber Mercedes 55 points
- Jochen Mass Sauber Mercedes 47 points
- Bob Wollek Porsche 962C 47 points
- Frank Jelinski Porsche 962C 47 points
- Jan Lammers Jaguar XJR11 23 points
- Patrick Tambay Jaguar XJR11 23 points
- Jesus Pareja Porsche 962C 18 points
- Oscar Larrauri Porsche 962C 15 points
Jaguar is looking less and less likely to repeat their team’s championship from a year ago. The team’s points are:
- Team Sauber Mercedes 75 points
- Joest Racing 47 points
- TWR Jaguar 31 points
- Brun Motorsport 23 points
- Toyota Team Tom’s 17 points
- Nissan Motorsport 13 points
- Courage Competition 12 points
- Spice Engineering 10 points
- Aston Martin 10 points
- Richard Lloyd Racing 8 points
Once again, less than a month’s break, and the WSPC is back in action at the legendary Nurburgring, the modern, shorter circuit, in the Eiffel Mountains of Germany. Only three rounds now remain in the championship for 1989.