Group C's diary of doubt
October 27 Mercedes wins the final round of the 1991 Sportscar World Championship at Autopolis, Japan. Silk Cut Jaguar is the winning team, Teo Fabi the World Champion driver.
November 11 Bernie Ecclestone (vice-president, FIA) and Max Mosley (president, FISA) call a meeting of the Sportscar Commission at a Heathrow hotel. Peugeot’s Jean Todt is delayed in Pans by an air traffic control dispute. Forcing an unexpected vote on plans for 1992, Ecclestone declares that there is not enough support for the SWC series. FISA’s Motorsports World Council will be asked to abandon the series.
November 22 Jean Todt calls a sportscar meeting at Peugeot’s Paris headquarters. Teams with 3.5-litre engined cars are fully represented, but engineers Flegl and Singer from Weissach represent Porsche teams. Mercedes not represented. Manufacturers and team owners vote unanimously to request the World Council to continue the Sportscar World Championship in 1992. They then vote 12-7 to adopt the FISA regulations for 1992, for 3.5-litre engines, with a couple of exceptions. These would be the round(s) in Japan, where domestic championship cars including turbos would be admitted.
November 25 Bernie Ecclestone contacts the Sportscar Commission members requiring “a binding undertaking” to take part in the 1992 SWC series. Peugeot, Toyota, Jaguar, Mazda, Lola, BRM, Allard, Konrad, Kremer and Brun all give commitments, it is believed for about 20 cars.
November 27 The board of Daimler-Benz announces that Mercedes-Benz will support neither Formula 1 nor Group C in 1992. The Stuttgart firm will continue only in Group A saloon car racing.
November 28 The board of Mercedes-Benz explains that the decision was taken for “social and ecological reasons”. Group C, though, “did not reach the standard we had aspired to”.
December 5 FISA’s World Council decides that the Sportscar World Championship will be abandoned. In accordance with Ecclestone’s proposal there will be a series of sports car races in 1992 with Le Mans as the prime event. Races will be longer duration, at the discretion of the organisers, and new regulations will be written admitting 3.5-litre cars, ‘unlimited’ capacity engines, turbos, stockblocks and rotaries. Effectively the clock has been turned back to 1990.