From the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club YouTube channel.
Hosted by Wayne Scott for the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club, the panel consists of Tony Southgate (Chief Designer), Andy Wallace (Driver), Allan Scott (Engineer), Alastair Macqueen (Chief Race Engineer) and Richard West (Marketing Manager).
The 1980s have come to be remembered as something of a ‘second coming’ for Jaguar motor sport thanks to TWR. Nearly thirty years had passed since the successes of the D Types and in that time, Jaguar had not been directly involved in motor racing.
But, all of this was to change in 1984 when Jaguar was freed from the shackles of British Leyland ownership. With Sir John Egan driving the privatised company forward, Jaguar would return to motor sport with monumental success.
That success was owed to Jaguar’s partnership with TWR. There are stories about TWR right from the very beginning, from the days preparing Mazda RX7s, through to the Rover SD1s in touring cars and of course those iconic XJS Group A Touring cars that dominated the European series. Pick any one of those subjects and we could spend all evening on just one of them, but tonight we are focused on the events that led up to and resulted in the 1988 and 1990 Le Mans wins.
TWR took their first Jaguar prototype to Le Mans in 1985 and in 1988 achieved one of those “where were you when” moments, by winning the Le Mans 24-hour race with Andy Wallace, Jan Lammers and Johnny Dumfries at the wheel of one of the iconic purple liveried XJR9s. It was a victory that was to break years of domination by Porsche at the event.
This success would go on to see them later creating some legendary road cars like the XJR-15 and XJ220 and of course the JaguarSport tuned versions of Jaguar’s model range at the time.
Tom Walkinshaw was a talented driver in his own right. From a farming background, he started racing an MG Midget, eventually graduating to an FF1600 Lotus 61.
In the early 1970s his focus was very much on single-seaters but his aggressive style and physical attributes didn’t suit single seaters and an ankle breaking crash at Brands Hatch didn’t help. From aged 30, he focused on saloons. While still racing a Capri in the UK, Walkinshaw joined forces with BMW for overseas racing in a CSL in which he scored a string of major wins.
Tom Walkinshaw could have settled for a good career as a works driver for many more years to come, but he had bigger ambitions. By 1977 he was BMW GB’s motor sport manager, a connection that would ultimately lead to the birth of TWR.