What’s the point?
The Can-Am point scoring scale is usually held up as an example of how to reward successful competitors. . . 20 for the winner, 15 for second place, 12 for third, and so on down to one point for 10th.
Right now Davy Jones has plenty of time to ponder on the injustice of it all. He has won five IMSA Camel GT races this season in Bud Light Jaguars, yet he trails Nissan drivers Chip Robinson, with two victories, and Geoff Brabham with one!
Jones must now win for the sixth time at Del Mar, California on October 13 to stand any chance of taking the GTP title, with Robinson out of the top three and Brabham third or lower. With three victories, though, Nissan’s NPTI team has already clinched the Manufacturers’ Championship leaving Jaguar, with six wins, trailing in second place.
The Nissans have certainly not been the pace-setters this year but sheer reliability has kept Robinson and Brabham ahead in the points league for most of the season. If not winning, the Nissans have been second or third virtually all season, and the championship situation does raise the question of whether Can-Am points do justice to the season-long performances.
It’s important to consider this, because the Sportscar World Championship adopted the Can-Am scale in 1988 and uses it today (although in 1990 FISA reverted to the Grand Prix 9-6-4-3-2-1 scale for one season only). One day, when the SWC series looks lop-sided, questions will be asked. We might well decide that the winner should be better rewarded with, say, 25 points, leaving the others unaltered.
Even that wouldn’t have put Jones ahead in the IMSA series. Leaving aside bonus points for Daytona and Sebring, and ignoring bonus points for pole positions and fastest laps, Robinson would still lead the championship with 169 points followed by Jones with 168 and Brabham with 152. Jones would be ahead only if 26 points were awarded for a win, and then only marginally.
Finishing second at Daytona (to the Joest Porsche) in the Group C Nissan R90CK gave Robinson and Brabham a flying start to the season, especially with the five bonus points for the endurance element, and tipped the scales in their favour for the rest of the year.
It was controversial then to allow Group C cars to score championship points, and the IMSA organisation has now announced that while current Group C cars will be allowed to take part in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona on February 1-2, they’ll not be scoring points.
This news will come as a great relief to Tony Dowe, Ian Reed and the rest of the Bud Light team, who will rely once again on the ubiquitous 12-cylinder XJR-12 and hope for better luck.
The Brabham brothers were in the news in August, and we wait for the day when they may compete in the same race. Would it be as team-mates or rivals, though?
David, at 26 the youngest, made a newsworthy debut for the Silk Cut Jaguar team by finishing first and second at the Nürburgring, and a month before had been helping middle brother Gary, 30, with the Sturtz-BMW at the Brands Hatch Interserie race.
Judging by the lacklustre performance of the Sturtz, a midfield runner in a poor field, it stands little chance of doing well at Del Mar, the next scheduled outing. There, eldest brother Geoff (39) will have to go through the pain barrier to drive his Nissan, seven weeks after surviving a huge crash at Elkhart Lake.
A compression fracture of Geoff’s spine will not have healed by mid-October, and his ribs may not be fully repaired either. But still, the Australian wants to win the IMSA title for the fourth time in a row, and nothing less than an outright win on the bumpy fairground track will be enough. Gary was invited to drive with Geoff in the Sebring 12 Hours back in March, and that was their one outright victory of the year.
The names of Gary and Geoff appear on the entry list for the Tooheys 1000 at Bathurst, Australia on October 6, driving an Allan Moffat Ford Sierra RS500. That seems a little unlikely in Geoff s case, especially with the notorious ‘Mountain’ to test his spine. David will certainly not be available, since he’ll be on duty with the Silk Cut Jaguar team at Mexico City that weekend.
Although Geoff Brabham has driven the Nissan ‘muletto’ Indycar which gives the 3.5-litre V12 engine plenty of miles, it seems increasingly unlikely that the Japanese firm will contest the 1992 Sportscar World Championship. An announcement is due to be made at Autopolis on October 27, but the betting is that Nissan will again concentrate on IMSA and the All-Japan Sports-Prototype Championship.
The intention is to develop the NPTI designed R92C throughout next season in readiness for a World Championship programme in ’93. Judging by the way the pace of development is speeding up in sports car racing, though, it seems more likely that Nissan would need another new car to be on the pace in 1993. No matter what programme is announced for next year, at least one Brabham will be in Nissan’s plans! — MLC