Starlight Express - The Race
by Quentin Spurring and Adam Cooper.
The weather was beautiful by the time the cars were pushed to thier grid positions for the 4pm start. After the endless preliminaries, during which
the Jaguar drivers and the Hawaiian Tropic girls received their now traditional enthusiastic reception, the field finally moved away behind the
Mercedes pace car. Another tradition was honoured by the single WM, waiting to make s smoky start from the pitlane.
The Silver Arrrows made a fine sight as they led the field around, both their drivers well aware of the trigger-happy Jaguar and Porsche pilots
lined up behind. Anxious as ever to make a good getaway, it was baldi who got the hammer down from the outside of the front row to lead into
the Dunlop Curve. Schlesser slotted in behind in the pole car, with Jaguars of Jones and Lammers in tow, Jan having unsuccessfully tried to sneak
down the inside of Jean-Louis on the blast past the pits. First time onto Mulsanne, adn the strong form of the Jaguars on the straight was
immediately apparent, as Jones pulled out of Schlesser's slipstream, and cool as you like, dragged his way into second place. The opposite trait
was demonstrated by Larrauri, who had made a demon start to be fifth on the straight; by the end of it a charging Julian Bailey and Alain Ferté
had made it by.
At the end of the lap the No.1 jagaur was well back. Lammers pitting straight away with a suspected puncture, dropping to the back of the field.
A lap later, Alain Ferté stopped the No 4 Jagaur for the same reason, although this time the car's tyre gauge had misled him. This put two
XJR9LM's in the last three or four places in 7 minutes....
Baldi led past the pits on lap 1, but Jones was clearly not hanging around; on lap 2, he
took Baldi for the lead at Mulsanne Kink. A lap later Nielsen slipped by before Mulsanne
Corner to take second. A Jaguar 1-2; all around the circuit, cheers from the enclosu-
res drowned the noise of the engines.
The other star of the hard-fought early laps was Bailey. Nissan's game plan may have
been to go for a finish, but Julian had the car well wound up, passing Schlesser and
aggressively finding a gap on the inside of baldi on the curving right hander past the
pits to start the fourth lap. He then set his sights on Nielsen; next time past the pits
he was right with the Jaguar. Alas, he came unstruck at the Mulsanne Corner, sliding
into the back of the Jaguar under braking, and giving it a hefty thump. As the Dane
headed for the pits for bodywork repairs and fuel, putting a third Jagaur near the back
of the field, the Nissan spun to a halt, its nose askew. Bailey got going with the help
of marshals, and arrived back in the pits some 7 minutes later. The front suspension
had been pushed back into the monocoque, and the car was the first retirement....
Jones, meanwhile, was well into the groove, opening out a lead of 7 seconds within four laps. With Bailey out and Nielsen delayed, his pursuer was
now Wollek, who'd had a relatively cautios first few laps:"They weren't in the same race as me. They were in a one lap Grand Prix, and I was in a
24 hour race!" Bob picked off the two quickest Saubers and, secure in second place, began to edge towards Jones. In a couple of laps he brought
the car to within two seconds of the Jaguar, and that's where the gap stayed.
Baldi and Mass (from 11th on the grid) held third and fourth places, meanwhile, as team mate Schlesser slipped back behind Jelinski and Larrauri.
Already Jean-Louis was finding it hard to keep up to the pace of his team mates, the car 200rpm down on the straight. Mauro was first of the
frontrunners tomake a fuel stop, coming in on lap 9 to hand to Acheson.
This was a lap earlier than scheduled for what was an early planned stop, after a bump with a C2-car, and only 61 litres were required. Next time
round Larrauri came in, overshot his pit, and nearly got himself disqualified by reversing back! Mass and Jelinski also stopped, and both stayed
Jones made his first scheduled stop after 12 laps, leaving Wollek to take the lead. Bob, who'd survived a huge sideways moment exiting Tertre
Rouge a little earlier, led for a lap, until stopping on lap 13. Jones stayed aboard the Jaguar, while Stuck took over the lead Joest machine. Vern
Schuppan, running very strongly towards the back of the top 10, also eked out a long first stint with his ex-works Porsche. However, his good work
went waste when the car refused to fire as Eje Elgh attempted to leave, losing the Omron car a couple of laps.
Already well down the field was the Leyton House Kremer 962, after a couple of stops due to a misfire.
The result of all this pit activity was a handy lead of over 20 seconds for Jones, with Mass now second from Jelinski and Stuck, who had an
unusually tardy first lap out after a slow stop, losing a lot of time to the Jaguar. The three Germans fought out a spectacular battle over the next
few laps. Mass got better of this initially, but later in the stint - as his Michelins got past their sell by date in the heat - the two Joest machines
reeled the Sauber back in. Larrauri ran fifth, still struggling with straightline speed, ahead of Schlesser (a double stint) and Acheson, running in
tandem and trying to conserve their tyres.
The No 2 Jaguar made its proper out-of-synch stop on lap 19, now fully recovered from the bump with the Nissan, Wallace taking the wheel. Down
the field, the three delayed, with Lammers, Alain Ferté and Andy Wallace (replacing Nielsen) in the respective seats. The Toyotas challenge was
already beginning to fade; Hoshino shunted the 4-cylinder 88C at the Porsche Curves, and after attempts to repiar the suspension mountings, the
car was later retired by Artzet.
Stuck and Mass continued their battle, and on lap 23 hans got by as the Sauber got a little loose at Tertre Rouge. Mass fought back straight
away, regaining second place before the end of the lap. He held onto the place until lap 25, when both he and the leading Jaguar pitted. This had
been an excellent double stint by Jones, who'd put the American-run Jaguar some 35 seconds in front.Daly took over the jaguar, and regained the
lead when Stuck, who led for a couple of laps, handed back to Wollek.
The best of the Saubers was introuble almost immediately after the second round of stops, when Reuter, having replaced Mass, ran over broken
exhaust debris on the Mulsanne. He made a quick stop to have the undertray and front right corner examined, before setting off in 11th place. Daly
was left with a 48 second lead over Wollek, and he continued Jones' form, gradually adding another second here and there.
They were in a
one lap Grand
Prix, and I was
in a 24 hour
Raphanel held third place, having taken over from Jelinski, but the No. 7 Joest 962 had
fallen 30 seconds down. Up to fourth place was the No. 1 Jaguar, Tambay now at the
wheel after a strong run from Lammers had made up ground after the first lap tyre
stop. Tambay was being chased hard by Brancatelli, who had replaced Acheson, until
the No 61 Sauber continued its early pit stop sequence. Reuter made another
unscheduled stop with a tyre turning on the rim, dropping the car even further down
the order. Going the opposite way was the no 4 Jaguar of the Ferté brothers ans Eliseo
Salazar, which crept into the top six after its early tyre stop.
Daly pressed on in front until he pitted on lap 38, having opened up a 50 seconds lead.
Wollek again held the lead for a couple of laps until he too pitted for Stuck. At around
the same time the Takefuji Schuppan 962 appeared in the pits with its nose and tail
severely damaged, driver Dominic Dobson having been helped into the barriers by a
brush with the charging Wollek. Bob later apologised.....! The red car would lose a lot
of time before it resumed.
Jaguar No 3 continued to lead into the third hour, Jones once again putting in some quick lappery. The recovery of No 2 was spoiled when Cobb
took over and had to make two extra stops when his belts popped open. The other Jaguars were going better. No 1 now in third place and No 4 in
sixth, giving the front of the field a much familiar look. Sauber plans hit a glitch on lap 42, when Alain Cudini brought the No 62 car in with body
damage after spinning at the Dunlop Curve while attempting to avoid a spun C2 car. Urgent repairs were affected to the rear wing, much to the
consternation of Schlesser, who did not look too happy as he observed in the pits. Eight minutes were lost, and the car was never in contention
There was mixed fortune for the Japanese teams; Hitoshi Ogawa retired the Minolta Toyota 89CV with a blown enging, while the surviving Nissans
were looking good with the 'American' car running eight, and the 'Japanese' version two places behind.
The fourth hour began with disaster for Jaguar and groams from the fans. First the flying No 1 car stopped with an unusual broken exhaust,
dropping the car from third place. Minutes later the leading car coasted to a halt at the beginning of the mulsanne Straight on its 50th lap, when
Daly found no drive as he went for fourth gear. Derek had to get out, and with verbal instructions from team members, had to take the back off
the gearbox, and try and jam int into a gear. "The first one I found was reverse," Derek explained, "so I had to take the back off the box and do it
all again!" This time he got second, and was able to get the car back to the pits, the car's reappearance delighting the fans. More time was lost
while proper repairs were affected to the selector finger, and Jones resumed, some 50 minutes having been wasted in total.
Thsi action among the Jaguars suddenly promoted Stuck to a strong lead over the No 61 Sauber, which Acheson was back in after another early
stop. The least delayed Jaguar, No 4, held third place from the Jelinski/'Winter'/Raphanel Joest Porsche. The American Nissan had risen to an
excellent fifth, Brabham doing a very good job, until it was held up by a change of brake discs. The best of the Brun Porsche army had started to
fall back, Walter Brun and Jesus Pareja inevitably unable to match the pace of Larrauri, but it still held sixth, ahead of the Hoshino/Hasemi/Suzuki
Nissan and the delayed No 63 Sauber. This was now going very quickly, and rapidly gaining places.
At around 7.30pm Masanori Sekiya had a huge crash at the Porsche curves in the Leyton House 962, flattening a length of barrier. The wreckage
looked bad on the TV, and one immediately felt for the Kremer brothers, but the Japanese driver escaped with a shaking. It took some time to
repair the fencing, but no pace car was utilised. Another to hit the barriers on the same stretch of track was Johnny Dumfries.
The Taka-Q Toyota had run a deliberately conservative pace, in the bottom half of the top 20, and hadn't really figured. Johnny drove the
rear-damaged car as far as the Ford Chicane, where the lack of drive to the right rear wheel forced him to stop and attempt a repair to get
across to the pits. The 1988 winner spent a long time on this project, under the scrutiny of Japanese pressmen, and even got the car going for a
few yards. He dragged behind hi a TV camera whose careless owner had to chase after the 89CV and recover it! Alas Johnny had to give up after
several abortive attempts, and the third and final Toyota was out. Next year, said Toyota people...!
Through the next couple of stints, Wollek and Stuck consolidated their lead over No 61 Sauber, the margin opening to a lap and 90 seconds. The
second Joest car established itself in a firm third place, after the Ferté Jaguar made an unscheduled stop pon lap 70. An exhaust was broken - a
repeat of the failure on Lammers car - possibly as the result of a tyre vibration. The Jaguar dropped down to eighth place; later in the evening it
would lose more time with a repeat. In the meantime, No 1 was making up places after its exhaust breakage, disposing of the quickest Brun car for
fourth place. The French-driven Sauber lost more time when Cudini made an extra stop after experiencing a handling problem, which was cured by
a change of tyres.
Daly: "The first
one I found was
reverse, so I had
to take the back
off the box and
do it all again!"
At 8.45pm the first pace car appeared, in response to an horrific looking incident caused when the
Takefuji car caught fire exiting Mulsanne Corner. The fuel system was thought to have been
damaged in the car's earlier off, and when it started to leak, the rear of the car erupted in a ball of
flame. The brake lines were burnt through in this spectacular conflagration, and Dominic Dobson
had to bring the 962 to a halt by steering it into the barrier just before Indianapolis. Dobson had a
little trouble getting his eblts undone, and the car was well alight by the time he made his escape,
fortunately unscathed. This was just yards from where RLR's Takefuji car burnt out in 1987!
Oncoming drivers were blinded by fire extinguishant blowing across the track, and the Mercedes
course car came out. Or rather cars, as the ACO dispatched five of them!
The leader were all caught behind different pace cars. Wollek was picked up by the first, and he
quickly took the opportunity to pit. Of the frontrunenrs, the jelinski 962 and the No 61 Sauber also
stopped. The pace cars ran for just three laps before it was decided that the course was clear,
and the field was unleashed. The net result was an increased lead for Stuck, taking over the
Joest car; now it was a lap and over 3 minutes ahead. Jelinski had got in front of No 61 and ran second; an ominous Joest 1-2. By 9.40pm Stuck
put his team mate behind to lead by two clear laps. This looked like a repeat of Joest's glory days. Sauber 61 still ran third, a minute ahead of
Jaguar No 1, which traded places at pitstops with the impressive Japanese-driven Nissan, which was looking reliable in fifth. Also still in contention
was Larrauri's Porsche, but only when ha was driving it, while the top 10 was completed by Mass's Sauber, the Ferté and Nielsen jaguars and the
Omron Porsche, all lapping quickly after delays and now firmly ahead of the also-rans.
And Wollek continued to draw away from the field, lapping in the 3m24.5seconds bracket. The lead over its sister car was extended. 'John Winter'
unable to match the times of his team mates in No 7. Baldi reeled 'Winter' in and took him for second place at 10.10pm, Lammers then passing him
for third place shortly afterwards. Jan, charging hard, gradually caught Baldi. He relieved the Mercedes of second on lap 119, the Sauber then
pitting a lap later. The second Joest car continued to hold fourth place, while in fifth, and still running very strongly, was the Japanese-driven
Nissan. Competing the top 10 were the Repsol Brun car, the recovering Mass Sauber, the No 2 and 4 Jaguars and the American Nissan.
The Sauber preferred the cool of the night, and running very soft tyres - almost qualifying rubber - they were flying. Prudent economy driving in
the early stages also allowed them a richer mixture; a few more vital bhp.
There was a long way to go, and the Jaguar recovery looked like it was going to be successful. But at 10.35pm the fans opposite the pits were
silnced when Jones suddenly brought in his much-delayed No 3 car. He'd heard a strange noise as he went through the Ford Chicane, and decided
to stop immediately, a dropped valve wa diagnosed, and the car was returned to the paddock as the first casualty of the Jaguar/Sauber/Joest
battle, surrounded by glum faces. "It was running really good," said a disappointing Jones. "We had no worries."
The first sign of weakness in Joest's seemingly impregnable armour came at 11.30pm, when Raphanel brought the No 7 car in. The engine needed
an input of water. Not a good sign, and a couple of minutes were lost. The car came straight in again, and Reinhold Joest signalled that it was the
end; the car was pushed away, its engine broken.
Past midnight, however, the sister pink Porsche continued on its uninterrupted way, pursued
now by Jaguar No 1. The best of the Saubers had had a couple of stops with overheating,
and then Acheson had his screen covered in oil by a Nissan. He had a quick spin at the
Mulsanne Corner, and pitted. Somehow the screen wasn't cleaned in the stop, and afraid to
use the washer for fear of making it worse, Kenny pressed on. Later he got another load of
Nissan oil, and really gave himself a fright. "I couldn't see a thing," he said. "I had trouble
turning in at the Kink, and got sideways in fifth gear. I wasn't very happy about that...!"
Mass, too, made an unscheduled stop, to exchange a set of tyres he din't like, but the car
had climbed to fourth, ahead of Nielsen, yet another to charge successfully in the dark.
At 1.2am came the moment the Jaguar fans had hoped for; there was a problem for the
leading Porsche. Thirteen minutes after the scheduled stop, Stuck brought the car in for
investigations. His gauges had suggested a rise in temperature, and there were sorry
expressions among the joest and Porsche hierarchy as everyone crowded round the back of
the car. It all looked like a repeat of last year's water system-related retirement for Wollek's
identical works car. This time the problem was less serious, the lack of coolant caused by a
Acheson: "I got
sideways in the
Kink. I wasn't
very happy about
cracked pipe, easily repaired. Many bootles of mineral water were emptied into the engine, before Stuck restarted after a 15 minutes delay. The
team could only hope that the leak had not led to permanent damage. "We hope it's OK," shrugged Herr Joest. There were 14 hours for the motor
Apart from the diehard Jaguar supporters congregated opposite the pits, most people had drifted away to the funfair or the chance to grab a few
hours sleep. Those who stayed awake in the cool but clear weather witnessed some fast, hard racing in the top 10, with m ore cars lapping
consistently near record pace - in the dark - than ever before. This was still anybody's race.
For the moment at least, Jaguar No 1 was now firmly in the lead, Patrick Tambay running a lap and 2 mniutes ahead of Baldi, who was in turn some
90 seconds clear of Nielsen. The Jaguar presence looked very menacing...!
The No 2 Jaguar traded fourth with Stuck/Wollek between pitstops, the Porsche taking regular water fill-ups. Its engine seemed to be running well
despite the problems, and indeed Stuck immediately started to pile on very quick laps, oblivious to the fact taht it was pitch black. An even more
impressive job being done by Mass, who put in a superb double stint, lapping consistently quicker than anybody else, in the 3m24seconds bracket
and better. Indeed all of the top eight drivers were repeating sub-3m30seconds times, with Tambay heading Baldi, Mass, Stuck, Nielsen, the
impressive Alain Ferté and Larrauri. The pace was not relenting.
Lammer and Tambay, doing all the night work in No 1, increased their lead over Sauber No 61 to a lap and three quaters by 3am. Some 30 seconds
behind Baldi, we had Stuck, Nielsen and Mass - separated by 7 seconds! Those who stayed up were glad they did...! The pitstop sequence broke
up this battle, alas.
The lead Jaguar survived a fright on lap 183 when Lammers made an unscheduled stop with a slow puncture, putting Baldi on the same lap. Mass
lost a little time when he had a routine visual gearbox inspection at a scheduled stop, letting Nielsen temporarily into third place, until he stopped
Just before half distance, at around 3.50am, there was more drama for the pink Porsche. A small fuel spill ignited on the hot turbo, resulting in a
spectacular flash fire. As always at Le mans, this caused a great deal of panic, but it was efficinetly dealt with. Only a minute was lost, before the
car rejoined with bodywork singed.
A few minutes later, the pendulum swung once more. Now there was another setback for Jaguar. The fourth-placed Ferté car had a broken third
gear, and with bits of debris floating about in the 'box, the crew had no choice but to replace the whole rear end. The team did the arduous job in
around 70 minutes, and the car eventually resumed in 16th place.
The TWR crew
replaced the rear
end in 70
As the No 1 Jaguar kept ahead, attention switched to the battle between the Saubers. A
fine drive by Mass, backed up by good lappery from Dickens, brought their car virtually on
the tail of No 61. It seemed inevitable that they would trade second place, but Acheson
responded, and started to open the gap again slightly.
After the next stops the position did change, Mass getting ahead of Brancatelli. The Mercs
were looking strong, but there was yet more heartache for the Jaguar fans. Shortly before
5.30am, No 2 which was established in fourth place, came into the pits; engine failure, and
end of the race for Nielsen, Cobb and Wallace. Two down...!
Still there were dramas for the joest team. A slow puncture brought Stuck in early, and the
mechanics took the opportunity to check the water level, which had become standard
practice at each stop.
And yet this topsy-turvy race had plenty more to come. At 6.20am, Lammers came slowly
into the pits in the leading jaguar. A gearbox oil seal had failed, the lubricant had leaked
away, and the damage was done. There would have to be a repeat of the early rear end
change on No 4. This job, performed in daylight, was quicker than the first, a great effort by
Alistair McQueen's boys getting the car back out in a little over 50 minutes. The car was still the best placed Jaguar, in ninth place, some 10 laps
down on the leader.
Through into the lead swept the Sauber duo, Baldi now running some 20 seconds ahead of Dickens, and gradually extending his advantage. Porsche
filled out the top five, Italya/Joest (lapping quickly once again) ahead of repsol/Brun and Omron/Schuppan, now spread out over several laps.
The TWR challenge was cecimated, even the most dedicated fans now accepting that all chance of victory had gone. As the enclosures started to
fill up again, the Brits had to take in the bad news. But there were still over 8 hours to go...!
As dawn broke and the circuit began to wake up, the race was hit by a spate of retirements. Both works Spices broke their DFZs within an hour of
each other, after suffering a spate of electrical-related problems throughout the race. The Cabin March-Nissan (aka Cougar) also lost its engine,
after surprising everyone by surviving this far, while of more significance was the loss of three cars from top 10. Engine failures took the second RLR
962 of Hobbs/Hill/Andskar, which had been working its way nicely up the order, Larrauri's Brun POrsche (which had been a strong fourth) and the
sole surviving works Nissan. The brabham/Luyendly/Robinson R89V had put in an excellent showing, and lost a splendid fifth place with yet another
engine failure at 8.30am. There was even another fright for Stuck, when the oil pressure gauge read zero; a quick stop revealed the instrument and
not the motor to be a fault.
The order at the front had changed as well. Fading brakes caught leader Baldi out at the Dunlop
Curve, and he spun at 7.30am. Dickens sneaked through to take the lead, and baldi lost more
ground with a stop to check the car, fit a new nose, and hand back to Acheson. In those few
minutes, Sauber No 63 grabbed a crucial advantage. Third was still the pink Joest car, despite its
dramas, ahead of Schuppan's Omron 962, which had been gaining ground through the night.
Schlesser/Cudini/Jabouille benefitted from the retirement ahead to climb to fifth, chased by the
No 1 Jaguar, which was pressing on well with its new transmission, Gilbert-Scott at the wheel
Both the surviving Jaguars had been given the nod by Tom Walkinshaw; go for it, and see what
you can do! With nothing to lose both were flying, Tambay, now feeling well in the groove, was
running in convoy with Alain Ferté at around 9.30am. Both nearly came unstuck when Patrick had
a spectacular 360 degree spin just before Tertre Rouge, forcing Ferté to shut his eyes and lock his
brakes, but disaster was averted. A sheepish Tambay pitted and ahnded back to Glbert-Scott,
unaware that his faux pas had been relayed to the pits on live TV, and to the fans on the giant
screen at the Ford Chicane...!
Ferté, running 12th, had been one of the stars of the event. During this midmorning stint both Jaguars set some stunning times, and Alain in
particular was on the limit, getting down to the 3m21seconds bracket to get a remarkable new lap record - on lap 246!
However, both XJR9LMs would have further unscheduled stops. At 10.20am Michel Ferté sideswiped the third-string Pescarolo/Ballot/Ricci Joest car,
stopping for attention to the side panel (a vital air intake), while 30 minutes later Jan stooped when his fire extinguisher started rolling around.
The high retirement rate had cut the field to just 20 cars, and the lack of traffic helped the fast times come. Through the morning Stuck and Wollek
were once again pressing on, the car also getting into the 3m21seconds range as late as lap 290. It was enough to keep the Mercedes team on its
The gap between the Mercs fluctuated between a mniute and little over a lap, depeding on the stage in the pit stop sequnce. By 12 noon their
pace had eased off to a respectable 3m29-30seconds. Stuck and Wollek (and the Jaguars) were lapping 6 or 7 seconds a lap quicker, but the
Porsche was still a couple of laps down on the Saubers. During the morning, however, another problem struck the pink 962; a slipping clutch caused
by a leaking oil seal. That seemed to settle it for Joest. There were still several hours to go, but the Merc duo up front were running like clockwork.
Dramas continued for the rest. At 12.05pm the Kremers lost their second car when the Kenwood machine caught fire as Kunimitsu Takahashi passed
the pits. The popular Japanese veteran spun the car to a halt in the Dunlop Curve gravel, and baled out. The 962 was completely engulfed in flame
by then, but Kuni was unhurt.
A little over an hour later the same fate befell Tiff Needell as he passed the pits in the RLR/Cabin car; Tiff stopped before Dunlop, but the car was
well alight. With the much-delayed single WM also going up in smoke in the morning, Tiff was the fifth driver of the week to escape a major fire.
Another Porsche in trouble was the Omron Schuppan car, having a lengthy gearbox change, while the surviving Aston Martin - which ran like a train
apart from an exhaust breakage - had a stop to repair suspension damage caused by a puncture.
With a couple of hours to go the order was firmly established. No 63 and 61
were out front, a couple of laps ahead of the clutch-troubled Joest car, while
the lead Jaguar looked firm in fourth, well clear of the French-driven Sauber No
62. The third Joest car was a long back in sixth, ahead of the IMSA-leading
Kennedy/Hodgetts/Dieudonné Mazda and the Ferté/Salazar Jaguar, which was
still churning out the times.
The tension in the Mercedes pit did not relax. As the race edged towards the
end, there were still niggling doubts about the transmissions of the C9/88s,
which up to now had held together. The drivers were also very tired; these
cars were proving very physical to drive. In the back of the pits, Brancatelli
was exhausted, while Acheson was feeling apprehensive about his forthcoming
stint. "I could do with a cool beer! The cars are so hot, I've never been so
tired. But if Jochen finishes first and we finish second, I'll have no complaints."
Team newcomer Dickens was barely able to believe what was happening. "I did
not expect this! But the car wears you out completely, compared to the
round to the flag
in fifth gear
Porsche I drove last year."
At 2.45pm Kenny took over from Mauro. On that first lap, the first sign of fragility came with a gearbox selector problem. He pitted immediately, but
team manager Dave Price decided that nothing could be done; Acheson crawled out of the pits jammed in fifth. It was the only gear he would have
to the flag...!
This gave new hope to Joest and Jaguar. Would the second placed car make it? Having lunched the clutch leaving the pits, Acheson couldn't even
dip it to roll round the slow corners, and the transmission produced awful noises as he chugged out of them. A less torquey engine than the Merc
V8 would not have responded very favourably. But lapping in the 4m10seconds range, Kenny kept going.
The Joest car wasn't really in a position to chase No 61. It was already tight on fuel, and the slipping clutch had put consumption up. In the last
few stops the team even poured bottles of Coke-Cola onto the clutch in an attempt to clear the oil off - much to the amusement of all in the pits!
But the car's times fell, and Wollek, doing the last stint, could do nothing.
Mass stayed in the leading car for the final stint, and with no pressure from behind, his times slowed, and the car was touring round to the finish.
Amazingly, Acheson kept going in fifth gear; with a few minutes to go he linked up with Jochen to run in a very slow team formation. As the second
hand of the ACO clock ticked away to 4pm, Schlesser caught up as well. That's how they crossed the line, matching Jaguar's 1988 effort in a
crushing display of superiority. As ever the track was invaded, but Mass got half way down the pit straigth before he finally gave up, confronted by
a wall of people. In the Sauber pits, the tension of the last 24 hours - or perhpas 12 months - disappeared. This win meant a lot, and wasas
emotional for the team members as the Jaguar win, even if the enthusiasm from the spectators
was more restrained. Wollek and Stuck were happy enough with third place, but for Jaguar fourth
place was a poor reward for a hard race. Lammers drove his heart out right to the flag, and the
fans gave him and the team a great reception. Schlesser had the No 62 car in a low key fifth,
while Joest got its third-string No 8 car into sixth place. Mazda too had a team formation finish,
the Kennedy 767B surviving a late scare with a damage nose to just edge out the No 4 Jaguar for
Vern Schuppan's car toured round to get a finish after a long spell in the pits, while Tim Lee-Davey
did a creditable job on his limited funds to be one of only five Porsches to go the distance.
There were cheers too for Brian Redman, who brought the magnificent sounding Aston Martin
across the line, in 11th place. This was a good effort by the new team, and one which deservedly
received a warm reception from the Brits.
In the Jaguar enclave there was a reflective mood, while over at the Sauber party the champagne
was flowing. And who would have expected that a day earlier...?