Around and about, May 1989

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Lola and Benetton chassis for 1989

Several Formula One teams chose to take last year’s chassis to the Brazilian Grand Prix on March 26, while the finishing touches were still being applied to 1989 models back in Europe.

Lola’s LC89 has been designed by Chris Murphy and Eric Broadley (in consultation with Larrousse-Calmels technical director Gerard Ducarouge) around the four-valve 80° Chrysler-Lamborghini V12, which made its race debut in an older chassis in Rio and will be used in conjunction with Lamborghini’s own transverse six-speed gearbox. The neat carbon-fibre/composite chassis features the now conventional high airbox, slim footwell and low-sided cockpit.

The launch went ahead on schedule in Paris during the week leading up to the opening race, despite the recent arrest of joint team-principal Didier Calmels following the murder of his wife.

Equally colourfully presented two weeks later in Witney, Oxfordshire, was Rory Byrne’s Benetton B189, designed around another exclusive engine package, Ford’s as-yet unraced Cosworth-built V8. Wheelbase and track measurements are identical to those of the impressive B188, but the car is significantly lighter, with distinctively higher and narrower side-pods housing radiators and coolers and incorporating airboxes beside the driver’s shoulders to feed the engine.

Unfortunately, Alessandro Nannini severely damaged the first B189 during Imola testing, and it was not expected to be repaired in time for the San Marino Grand Prix on April 23.

Slow Progress for Streiff

The Frenchman Philippe Streiff is still unable to move in hospital in Paris following the testing accident he suffered at the Autodromo Nelson Piquet a week before the Brazilian Grand Prix. His AGS ran over the kerb in the fast right-hander after the end of the main straight, and was then thrown across the road and landed upside down on the barriers.

He has been showing slight signs of improvement, however. AGS team manager Henry Cochin reports that: “He is breathing without aid now and is totally concious. He can contract his biceps, and feeling is slowly returning to his forearms.”

He is still wearing the special neck brace which was fitted just after the incident, and although the change in his condition is minor, a spokesman revealed that he is starting to remember more and staff are pleased by his determination to recover. His doctors, lead by Professor Saillant, have been waiting for the bruising and swelling to subside, and admit it may be some weeks before any firm conclusions can be drawn about the likelihood of full recovery from his state of paralysis. The hospital recently confirmed that he will be a patient for at least two more months. Gabriele Tarquini has been signed up to replace Streiff for the rest of 1989.

FIVA’s 500,000 Voices

Although recent rumours of EEC old-car legislation have proved unfounded for the moment, the scare has given a strong boost to FIVA, the International Federation of Historic Vehicle Clubs.

At an Extraordinary General Assembly in London in March, the new Federation of Historic Vehicle Clubs formally replaced the previous representation from the VCC, VSCC and AMOC, taking the number of enthusiasts represented by FIVA to over 500,000.

The London meeting confirmed new statutes which will give FIVA a stronger voice with FISA and other bodies. The Brussels lobbyist engaged and financed by the British Federation, Mr Edward Seymour-Rouse, will now act for FIVA in monitoring EEC proposals which might affect old vehicles.

Busy year for HGPCA

Mulberry,the clothing company, has signed a three year sponsorship deal for what is to be called the Mulberry Historic Grand Prix, comprising four big races: Pau (May 15), Silverstone (May 29), Nurburgring (August 5-6) and Zandvoort (August 27). Apart from the quality of the cars, the races have their special features. Pau will be an evening race on the street circuit under floodlights, Silverstone will be a 2×12-lapper for the British Empire Trophy, last awarded in 1977, and the Nurburgring Oldtimer meeting will host this year’s 100-mile Historic GP, this time split into 100km on Saturday and 60km on Sunday.

At the same event the Association is also running the first 100-mile sports-car race for 1948-58 cars, also split between two days. As many members have both types of car, could this be the first time a driver will have gone to sleep while in the middle of two concurrent motor-races?