BMW win, Jaguar star

BMW win, Jaguar star

Silverstone, September 9th THE 48th RAC Tourist Trophy was dominated by two things, the presence of the works Jaguars and the weather. The Jaguars, always a big box office draw at home, were doubtless responsible for attracting a good proportion of a crowd of over 15,000 who came not only to see them win, but also to see Tom \Valkinshaw clinch the ETC Drivers' Championship. The other thing which brought in the crowds is the knowledge that ETC is probably the most interesting current category from a spectator's point of view. it is a form of racing with breadth. depth, a high level of technical interest, within sensible limits, adhered to, and a fine line-up of driver talent.

The Jaguars did almost everything which could be expected of them, filling the top three places on the grid, holding the first three places for most of the race, their six drivers setting the six fastest laps, and generally putting on a display of utter superiority. Many of their rivals admitted their only chance was a wet race .d there must have been spectators, too, who felt that the odd shower might ginger up the proceedings, as had been the case last year. It was the evesither which did for the Jags. When the rain came, it was in a short, sharp, torrent which quickly had the track holding standing water .d had cars aquaplaning in all directions. ()Id Silverstone hands could remember rain like it in the past, but never anything worse. Suddenly the race was turned on its head and what followed was fascination itself. The first practice session was only a few laps old when it began to rain. By that time, however, Walkinshaw had warmed up his car, fitted qualifiers and taken pole. His time of Im 34.58s was nearly five seconds below the lap record, nearly two seconds better than his nearest team-mate and was a performance both tO underline his claim to the title and to demoralise the opposition. The Win Percy / Chuck Nicholson car took second on the grid with 1111 36.48s. and Enzo Calderari David Sears headed the second row with Im 37.19s. Their nearest challengers were the Rovers of Jeff Allam / Marc Duez (Im 37.94s) and Steve Soper / Armin Hahne (list 37.96s). Remembering how the Rovers performed last year, it would have been a brave man who would have staked serious money against them repeating th.r performance. The quickest BMW tall iis the race were 635 CSis) the Italia car of Helintit Kelleners

Gianfranco Brancatelli, the winners of the Ntirburgring round, was next up with a time of Im 38.57s which many, including Kelleners, thought a little dubious. James Weaver, second in last year's Ti', and Mike Thackwell, having his first real saloon car race (his previous tin top experience being a stint in a Lotus-Cortina during last year's Six Hour Relay Race'. had problems with the engine of their BMW in the first session and with the clutch in the second, Thackwell putting its just enough inileage to qualify. This lack of practice made Thackwell'S race performance even more creditable. Their best time of I m 38.58s put them in seventh slot on the grid. The quickest Volvo 240 Turbo, of Ulf Granberg and Eie Elgh, qualified tenth with

Im 39.64s, though its performance in the race seas a revelation. The Volvos are adding reliability to their speed and Eggenherger Motorsport, which prepared the winning Keflencas Branca.11, BMW, is reported to be close to concluding a deal with Volvo for next year.

Fastest Class B ear in practice was the MG Metro Turbo l)1. Patrick Watts and Rob Wall with 1m 41.75s, 2Ist overall and well clear of the best Alfa Romeo GTV6, that of Lelia Lombardi and ( iiorgio Francia which posted fur 42.41s. In the interests of reliability, the Metros planned to take every clear hip in only fourth gear they normally only use third and fourth around the GP Silverstone circuit), this little ploy taking some of the strain off the turbo and gearbox and no; affecting their lap times, though in traffic third was used. Class C was headed I 'silts' (I'll (iTi 01 Wolfgang Pudrass and Hein/ Pin/

47.20s( from the 1:.scort Alan Curium' and Richard Longman • I in 40.14, which won the class last year. The race itself, 107 laps (313.72 miles.. started under fairly clear skies aml a still wind. Immediately the jaguars powered into the lead in the order Walkinshaw, Percy and Calderari, followed by the Rovers of Soper, Allam and Jean-Louis Schlesser. On Schless.er's heels came a tight bunch of cars, battling away as though it were a 20-lap sprint: Kelleners (BMW), Granherg .(Volvo), Stuck (BMW), Sigi Muller (BMW), Lindstrom (Volvo) and the BMWs

of Weaver, Hans Stuck, Vince Woodman and Bretislav Engc. It was a terrific, frantic, dice with bruised body panels soon appearing. Class B was a fight between the Alfa

Romeos of Emilio Zapico. Lombardi and Rinaldo Drtwantii, with Warts, mill Metro. holding station not far behind and playing a waiting game. Class C was led by

Longman's Escort which dominated from start to finish. Back at the front. the Jaguars cruised around and the excitement centred on the battle for sixth. Schlesser dropped back, Grandburg led, then Stuck. Weaver, however, began to slip back having made the wrong choice of tyre. Woodman rented on lap ten and Schlesser called into the pits for a,a alternator and hamlets', which effectively knocked out the third Rover. The Rovers of Soper and Allan] were soon being caught by Granberg. The Volvo took Allam on lap 16 and Soper, in a superb manoeuvre iit Woodcote. on she sffssrssng but did not pull art,t,easesa00dI0, the dice went on, soon to be tome, by Muller. On lap 24. Zapico's Alla Romeo colleeted Friedrich Siallman's Golf al Woodcote, and retired from leading the class but the incident occurred right in front of the dice for fourth. which lei Muller through ahead of The race then settled down a little. Thc Jaguars continued to Macaw their lead but, behind them, things were quieter. Caldera!! pitted on lap 33 and handed over to Vavi°

Sears. Walkinshaw came in three laps later and Hans Heyer took over. without the Jaguar losing its lead. Everything was going to plan except that the clouds looked threatening. The message from the lap chart read "dull race but the sniff of rain on the wind said otherwise. It threatened for perhaps 20 laps and then gathered its Strength. On lap 60, with rain due at any moment, the jaguars led handsomely from Stuck, Kellencrs, Allam. Granberg and Weaver. after an unscheduled stop for new tyres, with Drovandi's Alfa Romeo in charge of Class B. Those cars which intended to make

lost one stop were in and out of the pits at around this time though some were being held back for the first drops of rain. One day a team manager is going to be smart enough to post a man half a mile up svind with a walkie talkie and no gamp. When he gets wet, he'll tell the pits to expect rain in a few minutes. At present, no team manager's that smart.

Then the torrent came. Stuck immediately drew away from Kelleners at a fair lick; Stuck. so the rumour goes, needs a sign saying "Rain", before he notices. Nicholson brought in Isis Jag.ir bin was sent out again without a wheel change, for Beyer was due in. The same thing happened when Sears brought his car in. Stuck handed over to Dieter Quester, Marc Duee tried to (le another lap on slicks, the Rover cattle uOdor the bails' Express bridge at a terrific rate, skidding on water, and snapped into tho sleepers on the approach to V'oodcote. Bar, Williams' BMW quickly k'tied hint. , 11.,55 Nicholson's Jaguar did the same. and _,Fas a write-off. "Fhev were quickly wined ho' brury's Alfa Romeo and Rob 'Otto. All the drivers were able to get out

unharmed but it was a close run thing as car cannoned into car.

On the track there were spins galore and the wonder is that more cars were not writ ten off. Out came the pace car ahead of Thackwell, who had taken over from Weaver, in the storm, but Stack's timely pit stop meant that ()nester was out in front with a 90 second lead. Although the rain quickly stopped, the track was awash and the field splashed around for half a dozen laps. When the pace car peeled off, Quester led from Brancatelli with Walkinshaw a long was back. The Jaguar however did not like the slow speed

of the pace laps and, with its engine being suddenly cooled, it lost power on two cylinders. It sounded very rough when it got going again. No more rain came and a dry line eventually appeared. Brancatelli was fired up and was soots taking five ,e,onds a lap off a rather lacklustre Quest, had Qucster done she dry stint and Stuck the wet. the outcome might have been differ.' . As Brancatelli powered round, he was matched all the way by Thackwell, albeit a lap down, the Formula Two Champion's control ol his ear in terrible conditions being a joy to behold. Coining tout of Woodcote. Ins alms looked as through he was pumping iron. By lap 81, the sun was out and the order was Quester, Brancatelli, Walkinshaw,

Calderari, Thackwell and Pierre Dieudonne (Volvo). Brancatelli was 27 seconds behind Quester and 33 seconds ahead of Walkinshaw.

Brancatelli took the lead through Copse on lap 90 but Walkinshaw was taking, sometimes, over two seconds a lap from the leader. With 17 laps left, and 30.6 sec separating them, the scene was set for a close finish. Walkinshaw took another 10 sec off Brancatelli during the next four laps leaping over kerbs and driving remarkably hard, it seemed he could snatch the turtle from the midden. Then his progress was delayed by backmarkers but still, on lap 100, hr was on target for a narrow win. At Becketts, though, his engine cried enough and the Jaguar stopped, a superb drive prematurely ended.

Calderari passed Quester for second place five laps from the end and the race ran without further incident, though Thackwell untapped himself. He made his bones as a saloon car driver.

As the opposition had hoped, the ram had levelled the Jaguars' advantage but, had Sears been allowed wets when he first pitted, then he and Calderari would probably have won, their deficit at the end being much less than their time lost. Had the Weaver / Thackwell car not suffered tyre problems and been forced to make an unscheduled pit stop, then they might have won. If Walkinshaw's engine had held together for seven more laps. . . if Stuck had driven the "wet race" instead of Quester . . . if Nicholson had not been sent out for an extra lap on slicks. . Is was that sort of race, full of interest and variables, drama, and rich in texture. It was probably the best race seen in Britain this year, but then last year's TT was arguably the best of 1983. There is a lot to be said for ETC racing. '1

firer Volvos filled the fifth to seventh positions, underlining once more the Swedish cars' potential. Lombardi and Francia took Class B and the Curnow Longman Escort. Class C.

Walkinshaw might have taken his Championship title had he not decided sassy to give the crowd what they had come to see, a Jaguar victory. Still, he remains favourite for the title, while Alfa Romeo, with yet another class win, seem to be set for the Manufacturers' championship.

The BMW victory sos fortunate, due to she weather, but was not a hollow tone, for Brancatelli drove a stint free cif error under the most dreadful conditions. Kelleners Brancatelli deserved to win but then so did several other teams. — M.L. RESULTS 48th RAC Too. Trophy. September 9th — Weather both wet and dry .atolli (BMW 635.1 3 hr 72 rnm 26.77.c 92 97 mph Zli ' L cs':;"° ' iiii 8',.(4.,. !BMW 635 C90 :?/fru%U. ,41(), %V' 3 11, 24 min 06 09 sec ,,,,,.. nner$ lielleows Bwncatell. I_ Lotnbat. li F,,,n,,,, ?Alf,. {bun,. (37V6,. R '1111,,,,,:,:11)1, ,f, Cur.,. /Ford E..,

Fasresr Op T Walkmshaw IJagua, X.1$1. 1 niiti 38 77 ser. 106 86 mnti (rec.,. if':?;;',.:1„C;;;;;;i7;::::;;;;Xgr"A'Iro'FI?rieW,700 ir.: zT,'„r,r1,1i„iic,ve,n;.'yci,z,!,t,°;rit, "8