World Endurance Championship

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Fuji 1,000 Kms
Europeans lose face

Nine years ago Niki Lauda made a decision which cost him the Formula 1 World Championship, when he pulled out of the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji. It was pouring with rain and the track was flooding in places, and in those conditions he felt that he might have his second major accident in a space of three months. In October the World Endurance Championship teams faced exactly the same dilemma and, having the time to consider their options, the Europeans made a collective decision not to take part in the shortened race. When the pace car pulled off after 10 slow laps, to did they.

So much for the fact of the matter. An event counting for the World Championship — though worth only half points, since it was cut to two hours, arguably one-third of the intended duration — did take place. There were no major incidents, and the race was won handsomely by Kazuyoshi Hoshino in the new Nissan V6 turbo powered March 85G. By then the Europeans had lost face, a great sin in Japan, and the spectators must have been wondering about the bravery of newly crowned World Endurance Champion drivers Derek Bell and Hans-Joachim Stuck.

The Europeans, including Rothmans-Porsche, the TWR Jaguar, and Reinhold Joest teams had made an inevitable decision, but explaining it was quite another matter. The track was deluged for 24 hours by torrential rain, the backwash of a typhoon which missed Japan but made its mark all the same. There had been a minor earthquake on Friday and, as Derek Bell pointed out at the prize-giving, the regular Participants are still recovering from three serious accidents in recent events. It would be true to say that their hearts really weren’t in the job when the drivers woke up on Sunday morning to see rain pouring from dark skies.

The track was worse than they feared. The ominous clouds were actually below the level of the top rows of the grandstand, Packed to capacity! According to the organisers 83,100 spectators had paid their money, and even if that was an exaggeration, there was certainly a much larger crowd than has attended any 1,000 kilometre race this year.

The spectators could not have failed to realise how bad the conditions were… they were soaked to the skin, most of them. They saw Stuck execute a massive double spin during the warm-up, and the German, Whose bravery has never been in the slightest doubt, reported that conditions were absolutely undriveable.

The start was delayed, and at lunchtime the organisers arranged five laps behind the Nissan Mid-4 pace car. Stuck, riding passenger in the pace car, said even that frightened him!

Then came the parleying. Some drivers, notably Jochen Mass and Mike Thackwell, felt they ought to race and put on some sort of a show. Jacky Ickx, Stuck, Bell, and most of the others felt that the risks were altogether unacceptable. “If I am told to race then I will… maybe backwards, maybe I’ll have an accident, but I’ll do what I’m told” said the sunny Hans Heyer, of the Jaguar team. Bernard de Dryver, in the Cheetah, felt the same. “It’s up to Chuck (Graezniger). I don’t want to race, but I will if he tells me to. But I think I would crash.”

There were the spectators to think about. Sponsors, too, would have to be told. Meanwhile the organisers were leaning heavily on FISA steward Main Bertaut. If the race was cancelled they’d have to return money to the spectators, and having brought the Europeans over at vast expense there would be an insupportable loss. If the race was delayed until Monday there would be few spectators and hardly any marshals. If they delayed it until Thursday, a public holiday, most of the Europeans wouldn’t stay, anyway. Critically, most of the Japanese teams wanted to race. Their Bridgestone, Yokohama and Dunlop tyres were far better suited to the conditions; Bridgestone, for instance, had a choice of three rain tyres with deep grooves for these monsoon conditions.

Bertaut made the inevitable decision that the race would go ahead, though of a shorter duration. The European teams, considering their tyre handicap, made the equally inevitable decision not to take part, though they were sensitive about the word “boycott”. Their organisation, OSCAR, helped them to make a collective decision, but one was left with the feeling that if it was left strictly to the team managers, the Europeans would perhaps have made a token effort that would have avoided the collective guilt of chickening-out.

There is no question that Hoshino would have won the race even against the top WEC teams. He was a complete master of the situation, his Bridgestone tyres coped efficiently with the lakes and rivers that had the German Dunlops aquaplaning, the drivers helpless in the steering and traction departments. But who is going to explain that to the 83,000 spectators?

Hoshino pulled out two or three seconds on every lap, eventually winning the race by a clear lap, and Bridgestone-tyred cars claimed the top three places. The similar March-Nissan, which had shared the second row, slipped back to fifth place on Japanese-made Dunlops, and that was the difference between ideal tyre equipment and merely adequate… and the European rubber was not lathe same league at all.

The Nissan-powered March was by far the most interesting and competitive car so far as the visitors were concerned, powered by the two-valve, Nissan V6 three-litre engine. Electramotive, the Californian tuning firm, had fitted twin Garrett water cooled turbochargers to bring the power up to 710 bhp (for qualifying) or 680 at 1.2 bar boost, presumably with correct economy for a 1,000 kilometre race, though that has yet to be demonstrated. There were two March chassis, and a third Nissan V6 in a Lola T810, each operated by a private team. The Lola was never quite on the pace, perhaps because the team wasn’t as well organised (fresh mechanic, had been recruited since its previous race at Suzuka), and finished in eighth place.

The two March-Nissans had thrown down the gauntlet during Friday’s qualifying session, Hoshino lapping quicker than Stefan Belles pole time last year, though Stuck responded on Saturday with a typical all-out effort which put pole position beyond doubt. The Jaguars were only 19th and 20th quickest, after missing Friday’s qualifying session due to engine problems, but it’s doubtful if they could have gone any quicker on Saturday, as usual, they were outgunned by all the Porsches, plus the turbocharged Nissans and Toyotas, and never got the opportunity to prove their competitiveness in race conditions.

Derek Bell and Hans Stuck shared the World Championship without actually racing at Fuji, since challengers Ickx and Mass didn’t start either, and their success was something of an anti-climax. However, with three wins, three second places and a third to their credit, none deserved the title more. — M.L.C.

Results

Fuji 1,000 Kms. World Endurance Championship for Teams and Drivers. Race shortened to 2 hours (62 laps, 273.2 kilometres) Weather – heavy rain

1st: K. Hoshino (3.0 t/c Nissan-March 85G) 2 hr 01 min 10.79 sec (135.38 kph)
2nd: O. Nakako (2.3 t/c Nissan-Le Mans) 61 laps
3rd: S. Nakajima(2.1 t/c Toyota-Dome 85C) 61 laps

You may also like

Related products