The effective career of Jaguar’s stock-block, V12 powered Group C racing cars may now be on the wane, but the 1-2 victory at Le Mans has given a welcome boost to the Coventry firm’s future competitions plans with Tom Walkinshaw Racing. The official statement is yet to come but Bill Hayden, Jaguar’s new chairman and chief executive, gave a strong hint in the wake of the 24-hour success that the company will stay in motor racing (‘it’s part of our heritage’), and that necessarily infers that the new 3 1/2-litre car now under development at TWR’s Kidlington base will be a Jaguar. What sort of Jaguar will it be? Ross Brawn, formerly the designer of the Arrows Formula 1 cars and now technical director of TWR’s racing division, is well advanced with a fresh design which will, of course, utilise a monocoque in composite materials. The cars currently in use, the XJR-11 turbo and XJR-12 7-litre V12 were designed by Tony Southgate, and have proved over and again to be first-class products.
If any proof of that is needed, Jaguar has achieved three 1-2 victories this year, at Daytona and Le Mans with the V12 and at Silverstone with the turbo model. But, as Brawn pointed out recently, they are not his own designs. “You have to be responsible for the design to understand the car properly, to know how to develop it,” he ruminated on the pit-front at Spa.
Brawn’s XJR-14 will require plenty of balast to bring it up to the minimum weight of 800kg, and could go with the current school of thought which says that a physically smaller car may offer advantages, especially in straightline speed. Typically the turbo cars are built to the maximum dimensions, 2000mm wide and 4800mm long in order to have the widest track and obtain the maximum ‘ground effect’.
In recent months the Spice SE90C has been noted very carefully by rivals, this being 1900mm wide and 4775mm long. Not much change there from the full size turbos, but last year’s Spice SE89C was 1824mm wide and 4555mm long, and even in C2 trim could regularly outmanoeuvre the larger C1 cars. Big is not necessarily best, in this context, but Peugeot have gone for a full size car with an ‘optimised’ Cd figure, by such means as a nearly central seating position and no exterior mirrors.
The XJR-10 (IMSA) and XJR-11 (Group C) turbo cars confirm that no parts of Jaguar’s racing cars need come from Coventry, since the 3 1/2-litre twin-turbo engine was designed and developed by TWR at Kidlington, under the control of Allan Scott. It was enough to identify the engine as a JaguarSport product, and its installation in the forthcoming XJ220 is expected to seal the pedigree (that a number of people believe the XJ220 should be powered by a 7-litre V12 is neither here nor there; in his advisory capacity Walkinshaw insisted that the ‘supercar’ has to be smaller, lighter and less complex than envisaged, and Sir John Egan endorsed the proposal).
It’s almost certain that Scott has a new 3 1/2-litre V12 on his drawing board, and perhaps actively under development. Walkinshaw himself has the means, and the pride, to have signalled the go-ahead last year, when FISA’s intentions had been spelled out.
It would not be like ‘TW’ to sit on the fence and wait for Jaguar’s complex politics to reach their conclusion. Sooner or later the 3 1/2-litre XJR will be a V12, with JaguarSport on the cam-covers, but no-one at Kidlington or at Broadstone, TWR’s new corporate headquarters near Chipping Norton, is saying anything yet. “You’ll have to wait a wee while yet,” is Walkinshaw’s own reaction.
Unless the engine is well advanced, it’s possible that the Ford HB Formula 1 engine could be employed on an interim basis, perhaps for one year. The V8 was denied to Aston Martin perhaps to keep it available for Jaguar. FISA forced Jaguar’s hand with a communique issued on Friday, June 29, as an important meeting of the World Motor Sports Council reached its conclusion. In it, Jaguar was named with Mercedes, Peugeot and Toyota as having ‘declared to the FISA that they will enter all the events of the 1991 World Championship with a 3 1/2-litre normally aspirated engine fitted in all their cars’.
This put the cat right among the pigeons as Ron Elkins, Jaguar’s racing coordinator, insisted that: “no decision has yet been taken about the 3 1/2-litre formula.” It was Jaguar’s intention, he said, to run the XJR-11 with ballast in the four-hour races, and the 7-litre stock-block V12 at Le Mans, but for the fact that there’s no provision for stock-blocks in next year’s regulations! Next year the turbos will be heavily penalised with a minimum weight of 1000kg (currently the cars have to weigh at least 900kg) and it seems that the ‘heavies’ will be competing for minor placings.
Max Mosley, chairman of the Manufacturer’s Commission, insists that Jaguar (or rather, Tom Walkinshaw) had given an undertaking for next year, and thought that if they tried to enter turbos or stock-blocks their entries would be turned down. Walkinshaw himself backtracks from this position, saying that he had expressed a preference to run a 3 1/2-litre racing engine next year, knowing that race engines would be given every benefit. If we cut through the undergrowth, we can suppose that Walkinshaw has been given a nod from Jaguar, but perhaps not a firm undertaking about the supply of the Ford HB engine. It will depend, then, on how far advanced he is with the JaguarSport V12.
Jaguar’s contracts with Gallahers and Castrol run to the end of next year, to the very end of the turbo formula, although in America the IMSA contract expires at the end of this season, at Del Mar in California. Right now Guy Edwards is trying to secure an American sponsor for the 1991 IMSA programme, also in readiness for 1992 when the American rules will be based — though not exclusively — on 3 1/2-litre racing engine performance.
Sensibly the IMSA will continue to look for equivalency between out-and-out racing engines, stock-blocks, turbos and rotaries, banning none of them but favouring racing engines for the first time. It hardly seems possible that Walkinshaw has not got an engine project under way.
Ralph Broad’s efforts to turn the XJ12 saloon into a winner went disastrously wrong, and a lesser man than Walkinshaw might have been deterred from persisting with the same theme. Leyland management, in the meantime, had been replaced by John Egan’s control from 1980, and his fight was to improve quality and reliability, and to raise the image of the Coventry Cats. Walkinshaw’s record with the Rover V8 was outstandingly good, and when the Scot proposed to turn the XJS into a winner Egan was at least receptive.
The TWR Jaguar programme of European Touring Car Championship racing lasted only three seasons, 1982 to 1984, but they were very successful indeed. The Motul sponsored XJS racing cars (TWR handled the Motul franchise in Britain) were reduced to the minimum weight for the class, 1400kg, and Allan Scott was able to persuade the engine to yield 460 bhp in the third season, an increase of 50 per cent on the standard output despite strict control on development work in Group A.
“Jaguar’s two-valve head is very, very good indeed, probably the best two-valve there has ever been in commercial production,” says Scott, a New Zealander who came to Britain in 1979 to further his own racing career, but soon worked for Walkinshaw’s young organisation on Mazda rotary engine development.
The 1982 season produced four European Touring Car Championship victories for the TWR Jaguar team, Walkinshaw himself sharing the driving with Chuck Nicholson in each one, and in 1983 the Jaguars notched up five ETCC successes, the one at Zeltweg shared by Walkinshaw and Martin Brundle. Jaguar had to wait until July 1984 for the first 24-hour success, at Spa-Francorchamps. Walkinshaw, Hans Heyer and Win Percy took the chequered flag on that auspicious occasion, and this was one of seven Jaguar victories in the ETCC. Walkinshaw became the champion driver, in his last full season of competition, but while the champagne was still sparkling he made a major but lonely decision. Four months before Sir John Egan gave his approval, he hired Tony Southgate to design a new Jaguar challenger for World Championship sports car racing.
There was feverish anticipation of the XJR-5 racing for the first time at Hockenheim, but the car wasn’t sufficiently tested and nor were there enough spare parts. The debut came, instead, at Mosport in Canada, and Martin Brundle shook the works Porsche team by storming into the lead, keeping Hans Stuck in his dust for nine laps. The British Racing Green Jaguars made a fine sight on Mosport’s swooping turns, and one claimed third place in a race marred by Manfred Winkelhock’s fatal accident.
A strong second place at Selangor, Malaysia ended the first season on a high note, and during the winter the cars turned mauve and white to denote sponsorship from Gallaher’s Silk Cut cigarettes. The first victory wasn’t long in coming, delighting the Silverstone crowd in May, and although a variety of teething problems prevented a second win in ’86, Silk Cut Jaguar came close to pulling off the Teams’ Championship with Derek Warwick equally close to becoming the World Champion driver.
All the lessons of the season were learnt thoroughly, and in 1987 the team, managed by Roger Silman, won the first four races on the trot. Winning Le Mans was to the order of winning the next four. . . non stop . . . but it was beyond the plucky team. June was, in fact, a poor month because Jaguar couldn’t win at the Norisring either, but the team then progressed to win all the remaining events of the year. It was a virtual whitewash, eight victories in ten races, and a brace of titles for Silk Cut and Raul Boesel. . . . but still Le Mans remained the elusive prize.
Under the management of Tony Dowe and engineer Ian Reed, TWR established a new IMSA team in Indiana for the ’88 season, fully sponsored by Castro!, Jaguar’s longtime partner. The programme kicked off splendidly with a superb 24-hour success at Daytona, just the tonic the entire team needed.
As we hoped, it predicted a memorable win at Le Mans, finally vanquishing the works Porsche driven by Hans Stuck, Derek Bell and Klaus Ludwig, three of the best long-distance men in the history of Group C. That weekend, Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace outdrove them in a superior car, the specially developed XJR-9LM. It seemed significant in Germany, as in Britain, because the baton was finally passed from Porsche to Jaguar.
Stuttgart would claim the baton back though, as Mercedes’ challenge became stronger. The ’88 season had begun with a shock defeat at Jerez, Jaguar then turning the tables at Jarama, Monza and Silverstone, though by narrow margins. Porsche’s last fling was overcome at Le Mans, but from that point Sauber Mercedes shared the remaining honours with Silk Cut Jaguar, the German-Swiss cars winning at Brno — rather too easily, for Walkinshaw’s liking — the Nürburgring, Spa and, finally, at Sandown Park. Jaguar victories at Brands Hatch and Fuji (the latter, a clearcut 1-2) kept the Team’s Championship in England, and the Driver’s Championship trophy with Martin Brundle in Norfolk.
As is recent history, all turned to dust in ’89. Mercedes utterly dominated the World Championship, and Le Mans, while the Silk Cut team moved from one setback to another. The root of the problem was the urgent need to develop the new V6 twin-turbo, a task that simply couldn’t be accomplished in the space of a few hectic months. In America the Electramotive Nissan team had become dominant, and could only be beaten by a good turbo, while in Paris FISA had decreed that 3 1/2-litre racing engines would become the standard in 1991. The turbo project, planned by Walkinshaw for 1990, suddenly became a priority for 1989!
There is no need to dwell on the adversities. Even Le Mans was a disaster as a catalogue of fairly trivial problems beset the V12s, while turbo engine failures at Spa in September, early in the race, forced a grim promise out of Walkinshaw; “I will never allow that to happen again,” he confided on the journey home. And nor he did.
The sun shines again on the team in 1990. There have been changes within the team, Martin Brundle rejoined to back up the sterling efforts of Jan Lammers, Andy Wallace and Alain Ferté, a Goodyear tyre contract was negotiated, but above all a huge development programme was undertaken, concentrating on the V6 turbo. Bosch engine management has transformed the engine’s race performance, and the entire effort is put into perspective as the Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-11 team fights Mercedes’ Silver Arrows for outright honours, leaving Japanese rivals contesting the lesser placings.
The fact that Toyota and Nissan have been running V8, twin-turbo engines for two and three seasons respectively without a single World Championship success is a comment of sorts on the quality of work carried out at Kidlington. A small team running with a fraction of a Japanese budget, is not necessarily a disadvantaged team because the speed of response, and the freedom from politics, can be ample compensation.
Since 1987 Jaguar’s V12 engine has been raced in Group C at a full 7-litre capacity, with a bore of 94mm and a stroke of 84mm. It develops up to 750 bhp at 7000rpm, with 616 lb ft of torque, while for IMSA racing the capacity is limited to 6-litres (90mm bore, 78mm stroke) and 650 bhp. We heard a different sound once, at Brands Hatch in 1988, when the Scott designed 48-valve engine had its maiden run developing 798 bhp. It seemed such a good idea, and made such a noise, but it was too heavy and too complex to serve the purpose and was never seen again.
As thousands of race-followers appreciate, the V12 races with a silken howl that is quite unmistakable at any hour of the day or night, on the banking of Daytona or the straights of Le Mans. Let us not forget the special record at Silverstone, where the Silk Cut Jaguar team has won outright on each of its four appearances, three times with Eddie Cheever at the wheel of a V12 powered XJR.
The V12 story isn’t over yet. Jaguar’s IMSA team plans to run it again at Daytona next year, perhaps even for a year or two after that, with a reasonable expectation of success. It seems that FISA is about to terminate the career of a piece of sports car history at Le Mans, but there would be compensation if the next XJR has a 14,000 rpm V12 nestling in the engine bay. Bet that would sound nice! MLC