Round 8: Trofeo Hermanos Rodriguez Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico October 29th, 1989

This will be a championship finale for the ages, and one not to forget.  Here in the city of 23 million, as motorists dodge street vendors, a different group of drivers will be racing at Autodromo Hermano Rodriguez located in one of the poorer areas of Mexico City.  Five points separate the top two drivers going into the finale.  Drivers and regulations will change for WSPC 1990.  So, this is a nostalgic gathering for everyone in Mexico City to close out the decade of the ‘80s in sports car racing competition.  The mood is jovial in the heat of Mexico City.  We are ready, for the final WSPC race of 1989.

It’s a front row lockout for Mercedes, with Toyota and Porsche behind them.  There’s drama on the grid, before we’ve even taken off for the formation lap.  The driver’s door is open on the Joest Porsche 962 to be started by Bob Wollek.  The flat six turbo engine has stalled.  Mechanics and marshals alike are having a look to see what is wrong with the car.  The rest of the field is signaled to proceed with the formation lap, and so, driver’s behind Wollek’s motionless 962 will have to thread the needle around Wollek and his stalled racer.

The mechanics will bump start the 962 and maybe that will allow Wollek to get away.  He’s fine, as the rest of the field moves away from the grid, on the warmup lap.  We have 109 laps scheduled for this race.  Incidentally, the old reliable V12 XJR9 Jaguar’s are back.  Here’s the starting grid in Mexico.

  1. #61 Baldi/Acheson Sauber C9/88 Mercedes
  2. #62 Schlesser/Mass Sauber C9/88 Mercedes
  3. #37 Dumfries/Watson Toyota 89CV
  4. #7 Wollek/Jelinski Porsche 962C
  5. #5 Huysman/Larrauri Porsche 962C
  6. #1 Lammers/Tambay Jaguar XJR9
  7. #13 Fabre/Manautou Cougar Porsche
  8. #23 Bailey/Blundell Nissan R89V
  9. #14 Bell/Needell Porsche 962 GTi
  10. #2 Wallace/Ferte Jaguar XJR9
  11. #22 Thyrring/Salazar Spice SE89C Ford Cosworth
  12. #21 Bellm/Jourdain Spice SE89C Ford Cosworth
  13. #8 Ricci/Pescarolo Porsche 962C
  14. #18 Leslie/Redman Aston Martin AMR1
  15. #20 Davey/Toleando Porsche 962C
  16. #101 Adams/Velez Spice SE89C *C2 polesitter
  17. #10 Reuter/Konrad Kremer Porsche CK6
  18. #6 Pareja/Brun Porsche 962C
  19. #201 Kennedy/Dieudonne Mazda 767B
  20. #29 Giacomelli/Contreras Lancia LC2/89
  21. #103 Thuner/Messaoudi Spice SE89 *C2
  22. #72 Lassig/Yver Porsche 962

There’s your 22 car field for the finale.  We should be ready to go, as the cars snake through the esses.  Green light, and we’re off and racing in Mexico City!  The Mercedes’ are side by side and the whole field gets a good start. Mauro Baldi holding off the challenge on the inside against Jean Louis Schlesser and here comes Julian Bailey into the picture as well.  Harald Huysman, Bob Wollek, Jan Lammers, Andy Wallace, and others are all going for it straight away.

Jean Louis Schlesser has already made a pass on Mauro Baldi, look.  Schlesser leads Baldi and Johnny Dumfries in the Toyota.  Schlesser moves ahead of Baldi and Johnny Dumfries is the chap hanging on with the two Mercedes’ in that third spot.  Julian Bailey is being harried by Harald Huysman and Oscar Larrauri is next in line.  A marshal shows a black flag, and I can only assume Bob Wollek is the driver being called into the pits due to having that push start on the grid.  The Porsche’s have found a turn of speed here in Mexico City, but Jean Louis Schlesser is the man to beat so far.

What about Jean Louis Schlesser’s fuel consumption?  The two Mrrcedes’ pulling away from the Toyota.  Johnny Dumfries pits as the tires are knackered early.  He hands the car to John Watson.  The #8 sole remaining Porsche 962 for Joest Racing pits.  Henri Pescarolo and Jean Louis Ricci are listed as the pairing on that car, but it is Frank Jelinski who will take over the car for this stint.  Ricci said later that he asked Jelinski to drive in his place to give the car the highest possible finish in the points.  So, the lineup in #8 is now Pescarolo/Jelinski, not Pescarolo/Ricci.

35 laps done and dusted and what will happen for Mercedes on their pit strategy?  The running order is:

  1. #62 Sauber Mercedes
  2. #61 Sauber Mercedes
  3. #5 Repsol Brun
  4. #23 Nissan Motorsport
  5. #13 Courage Competition
  6. #6 Repsol Brun

Schlesser leads Baldi to the tune of six seconds, and which of them will pit first?  The longer they stay out, the better chance of getting more fuel into the tank for the next phase of the motor race.  Pit stops have begun and Mauro Baldi is the first to blink and head for the lane.  He will hand the wheel to Kenny Acheson.  The team changes the tires and does the driver change, also electing to do a brake pad change.  There are special tools to handle the brake pads and brake discs because they are so hot, you’d risk severe burns touching them even with fireproof gloves on.

The Tim Lee-Davey Porsche goes back onto the circuit.  Kenny Acheson will drive the middle stint, as he surely wants his team mate to win the world title as much as he wants to win it himself.  Once Acheson settles into the car with the new tires, a full fuel load, and new brakes, he’ll prove why he’s done so, so well in Group C for Mercedes in 1989.  Jean Louis Schlesser leads the motor race, but he does hit pit lane and is ready to hand the #62 Sauber Mercedes to Jochen Mass.  It is the same pit routine the sister car had.

Repsol Brun pit and are doing a brake pad change.  We see the pliers like tool to pull the pads out of the brakes.  So, Jochen Mass is back on track.  Mass still hoilds the lead of this motor race.  Behind him is Kenny Acheson.  They are team mates.  But Acheson is racing for his team mate, Mauro Baldi.  Julian Bailey pits the Nissan to hand the car over to Mark Blundell.  The team removes the front bodywork to make repairs, and speaking of removed front bodywork, Toyota #37 has binned it.  John Watson came into contact with the Spice under braking and the result is the right front corner of the car, the headlamp and the front fender, are damaged.

Watson in the Toyota is limping back to pit lane.  Meanwhile, Kenny Acheson moves past Jochen Mass into the race lead!  Wow!  If Acheson can hold Mass off, that bodes well for Mauro Baldi.  We still have a wide open battle for the championship.  Baldi or Schlesser will be the world champion, and Jochen Mass is going for it indeed, while Acheson is doing likewise.  Both these men are racing fro their team mates.  It is a race within a race as Mercedes has dominated this season with their 5.0 liter turbocharged V8 motors.

The older Jaguar with the larger displacement, normally aspirated V12 is having a hard time keeping up with the turbo Mercedes cars in the rarified air of Mexico City which is at a certain level of altitude, starving the engines of oxygen of course.  Mercedes Benz and Sauber have managed to work out the pressure differences and also the engine performance in the thin air here in Mexico City.  They have the turbo boost and piston efficiency both spot on.  Kenny Acheson and Jochen  Mass are both racing for their own points in the drivers’ championship.

Jochen Mass is thinking about passing Acheson, but Acheson is spinning!  Acheson is in trouble, looping the leading Mercedes!  Bang!  He’s clouted the wall!  The whole front clip is destroyed and knocked clean off the car!  Steam spewing from the radiator, and that’s game over for Acheson and Baldi!  His race is over, and Mauro Baldi’s title hopes have gone up in a plume of steam!  Jean Louis Schlesser is going to win the world championship!  Kenny Acheson says he is very disappointed for Mauro Baldi, his team mate.  It was win or bust.

He ran wide and overcommitted in the corner, spinning off the road.  He is disconcertingly frank about what happened in the wreck.  Team manager Dave Price is also very disappointed.  Sauber Mercedes clearly runs as a team.  Merceds Motorsport Director Bernard Harling says that they race as a team.  He is sad for Mauro and says Jean Louis Scdhlewsser is a worthy champion.  Johcen Mass leads Oscar Larrauri in the race order.

  1. #62 Sauber Mercedes
  2. #5 Repsol Brun
  3. #8 Joest Racing
  4. #14 Richard Lloyd Racing
  5. #2 TWR Jaguar
  6. #23 Nissan Motorsport

The green light is back on and we are back racing.  Jochen Mass is leading the motor race.  Jean Louis Schlesser will have the championship no matter what.  Mass controls the race from the front.  Nissan now runs second with the #23 car of Mark Blundell and Julian Bailey.  They have not had the handling on that car and have suffered with understeer all year.  It’s a shame that Mauro Baldi is out of the race.  Team boss Max Welti is sorry for Mauro and Kenny.  But, he’s happy for Jean Louis Schlesser winning the title.  Jochen Mass continues to put in the laps in the middle section before he hands the car to Jean Louis Schlesser for the finish.

Mercedes have won everywhere except for Dijon when Joest Porsche scored the win.  Pit stops round two, as Frank Jelinski hands the #8 Joest Porsche back to Henri Pescarolo.  Harald Huysman drives past the sister Brun Porsche.  Porsche have made a comeback in the middle of 1989, but they have had handling issues, and Frank Jelinski says the Joest car has had a broken spark plug and the revs are down.  Jochen Mass pits the #62 Mercedes, handing over to Jean Louis Schlesser.  Harald Huysman tries to pit the Brun Porsche 962C #5, but he spins into the lane!  That was a close call!

Some overenthusiastic driving is sure to cost Harald Huysman a fine from the FIA after this race is over.  Jean Louis Schlesser thunders back onto the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.  He leads this race and Oscar Larrauri takes over the #5 from Huysman and goes back on track.  Meanwhile, the #14 RLR Porsche 962 C GTi with Cabin sponsorship is running very well.  Derek Bell and Tiff Needell qualified well on the fourth row of the grid for this race.  They are doing extremely well, just as the other Porsche’s are, in the rarefied atmosphere.

Julian Bailey has also put the Nissan out of the motor race.  He looked to be out of fuel, but it seems more terminal woes have sidelined that car.  The fuel pump is broken.  So, Jean Louis Schlesser will win seven of eight races for Sauber Mercedes and he has already won the championship.  Bad luck for Kenny Acheson.  There was a bump on this very bumpy track, that caught him out.  Many people in the Mercedes pits have their fingers crossed.  But, they uncross them now as Mercedes wins the finale of the 1989 World Sports Car Championship, and he is also the world champ!

It’s a perfect end to an amazing season.  It was without doubt, Mercedes’ year.  So, here are the results.

  1. #62 Sauber Mercedes
  2. #5 Repsol Brun
  3. #8 Joest Racing
  4. #14 Richard Lloyd Racing
  5. #2 TWR Jaguar
  6. #1 TWR Jaguar
  7. #6 Repsol Brun
  8. #18 Aston Martin
  9. #10 Kremer Porsche
  10. #22 Spice Engineering
  11. #20 Davey
  12. #23 Nissan Motorsport

The final drivers’ championship standings look like this.

  1. Jean Louis Schlesser                        115 points
  2. Jochen Mass                       107 points
  3. Mauro Baldi                         102 points
  4. Kenny Acheson                       97 points
  5. Frank Jelinski                       72 points
  6. Bob Wollek                        72 points

BRD. West Germany

Here are the final standings in the constructors championship.

  1. Sauber Mercedes 155 points
  2. Joest Racing 84 points
  3. Repsol Brun 66 points
  4. TWR Jaguar 47 points
  5. Nissan Motorsport 37 points
  6. Aston Martin 26 points

To the victors go the spoils, and the champagne spray!  Jochen Mass is more than happy to join in with the champagne spray.  Jean Louis Schlesser must be absolutely delighted.  Jean Louis Schlesser and Jochen Mass acknowledge this was an exciting season, and are both happy.  So ends the 1989 season, and our look at Group C… the thunder of the ‘80s.  We’ve enjoyed bringing it to you, and hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it.  So long, everybody.

 

 

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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