Mercedes beats Jaguar at Brno

Always highly competitive, the Sauber-Mercedes team recorded its second World Sports-Prototype Championship victory of the season at Brno, in Czechoslovakia, on July 10. The TWR Jaguar team was narrowly but decisively beaten, and although the two Saubers and two Jaguars finished on the same lap it turned out not to be a classic encounter.

Jochen Mass was the mainstay of the Swiss team throughout the event, a 360km “sprint” on the big 5.4km Moravian track. Possibly the German had a point to prove after being eased out of Jean-Louis Schlesser’s car and paired with Jim Weaver, and throughout qualifying he concentrated on finding the best suspension settings for the difficult, multi-cornered track. Schlesser was more interested, as usual, in starting from pole position, leaving Mauro Baldi as a spectator much of the time during practice.

The two Saubers filled the front row as comfortably as the works Porsches did in previous years, on other tracks, and from the start Baldi and Mass pulled out a substantial margin over Jan Lammers and Martin Brundle, with Bob Wollek finding new life in Reinhold Joest’s Porsche 962C.

Baldi had a puncture early in the race and soon afterwards Lammers did as well, and at that point Peter Sauber made the obvious decision and put Schlesser into Mass’s car, which was 15 sec ahead of Brundle before the pit stops and 21 sec ahead of John Nielsen afterwards… Sauber’s pit stops are improving!

All four Jaguar drivers coped with the unusual understeer on race day, the track seeming to have changed its character after heavy rainfall the previous afternoon, and by taking Mass’s car Schlesser was able to extend his lead in the driver’s championship, now having 135 points to Baldi’s 119 and Brundle’s 115.

The Silk Cut Jaguar team, though, still leads the World Championship points.

Audi Out!

Hot on the heels of our feature on David Sutton Motorsport last month comes the surprising news that Audi Sport UK has withdrawn from rallying, and that the Audi 200 Quattro will no longer be seen on future rounds of the Open Championship. The decision was taken at the highest level after a series of disappointing results.

According to Sutton himself, the withdrawal will not hurt DSM as much as it might have done a couple of years ago. “Naturally we are very disappointed, and obviously we will miss the revenue, but our client base is now so wide that we still have plenty to keep us busy.”