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Sports Car Driver Shuffles

As Martin Brundle returns to the Brabham Formula 1 team, his place with Silk Cut Jaguar has been taken by Derek Warwick who resigned from Lotus. Warwick, 36, was almost a founder member of the Tom Walkinshaw directed Jaguar Group C programme, having driven the XJR-6 to its first victory at Silverstone in May 1986.

At the end of that season, he missed the Drivers' Championship by one place at Fuji, third when second would have earned him the title, and we wish him better luck this time.

Walkinshaw has not made any further announcement about his driver line-up for 1991, but TWR is committed to running two new XJR-14 3½-litre cars and need be in no hurry. Still available, apparently, are existing contractees Jan Lammers, Andy Wallace and John Nielsen.

Second drivers are going to draw the short straw next year as the races are reduced to 430 kilometres, or a maximum of three hours. The 'middle shift' is going to be short and sweet, about 40 minutes at Monza, and there will be plenty of broken hearts as the season goes on.

Reigning World Champion Mauro Baldi has been dropped by Mercedes and goes to Peugeot. That was the news at the end of October, but it was hardly a surprise. As expected Michael Schumacher and Karl Wendlinger will share the second Mercedes C291 all season, and Jochen Mass rejoins Jean-Louis Schlesser in the number 1 car. Simply Schlesser insisted on having number one status in the team and Baldi, understandably, couldn't agree to being number two.

At Peugeot Baldi joins Keke Rosberg, Philippe Alliot and Yannick Dalmas in what should be a very effective World Championship contender. The V10 engined 903 which ran at Montreal and Mexico is thought to be an interim car, with the evolution due for testing in the new year. It's hard to think of two faster men than Rosberg and Baldi, so Jean Todt will keep his fingers crossed that their French co-drivers won't do anything silly.

Spice Engineering is expected to be the fourth manufacturer in the new World Sportscar Championship, Walter Brun the fifth. Gordon Spice and Jeff Hazell returned from a successful sponsorship raising trip to Japan at the end of October, and were expected later to announce team plans for 1991, including the eagerly awaited Lamborghini V12 engine.

The plans for Walter Wolf, the Canadian oil millionaire, to return to World Championship racing in sports car form in collaboration with the Austrian, Franz Konrad, have now been changed. The original idea of running a couple of John Thompson designed chassis foundered when it was learnt that the new car would not be ready for the start of the '91 season. It is believed instead that Wolf has struck a deal with Spice Engineering to run their two-car team.

Walter Brun is pressing ahead with his own car, powered by the Judd V8 engine, in place of his ill-fated EuroBrun F1 operation. The chassis has been designed by Chris Humberstone at the Brun Technics technical base near Basingstoke, and the plans should include Brun himself, Oscar Larrauri, Jesus Pareja and, perhaps, Bernd Schneider. MLC

TWR Strikes Again

Away from its racing programme, Tom Walkinshaw Racing has also been busy developing yet another supercar, the XJR-15. This is not to be confused with Project XJ220, the Jaguar-Sport car developed jointly by TWR and Jaguar Cars, but another project entirely.

To try and distance this new car from the XJ220, purchase guarantees entry in a proposed 3-race series, which not only will be support races at 3 European Grands Prix, but will have a US $1 million purse. The XJR-15 will thus only be offered in race car guise, although TWR expect a number of the 40 being built being converted for road use.

It was the 1988 Le Mans winning car, the XJR-9, which was the inspiration behind this new supercar, but as development has progressed, it has left its roots far behind, although the monocoque required little modification. The body, though, is new, Peter Stevens' design taking into account increased safety margins, a more comfortable interior and its possible use as a road car. The 7-litre engine as used in 1988 has been reduced to 6-litres in the name of driveability, although it is rumoured that it would otherwise have been a quicker car than the heavier turbocharged V6 XJ220. Production of the carbonfibre car is due to start soon after the new year with production limited to around 40. The US $1 million price has not put customers off as, like the XJ220, customers have already been falling over themselves trying to place an order. WPK

Welti Moves on

In a move that shows how seriously Porsche are taking their return to Formula One, they have tempted Max Welti away from the Sauber Mercedes Group C team. Appointed as Project Manager for the F1l programme, it will be his responsibility to oversee all Porsche matters within the Bletchley based Footwork team. WPK (For further Formula 1 technical news, please turn to page 1284)

Sotheby's

It is at the Sotheby's auction at the RAF Museum at Hendon on Monday, 3rd December that two of the original Blower Bentleys will be coming under the hammer. Of most interest is chassis number SM3909, the 1929 Show Car with coachwork by Gurney Nutting, which became Woolf Barnato's personal car. Alongside it will be another Blower Bentley, a 1931 four-seater Sports Tourer with coachwork by Vanden Plas, which has recently returned to this country from the USA.

A Bugatti Type 40 supercharged Fiacre drophead, which belonged for very many years to Lidia Bugatti, older daughter of Ettore, is also coming up for sale. This is the car which was included in the Royal College of Art's "Amazing Bugattis" exhibition 11 years ago.

Of the several other interesting cars coming up for sale, the two that will be of specific interest to MOTOR SPORT readers will be a 1925 Vauxhall 30/98 OE two-seater tourer and a 1931 Aston Martin 1½-litre International. The former has an extensive history of racing at Brooklands and Donington while the latter is an ex-works team car which was regularly raced in the Thirties. WPK