LE MANS 24 HOURS 1988

11th - 12th June

49 starters 25 finishers

The 1988 Le Mans 24 Hour race will be remembered for Jaguar's sixth Sarthe victory, 31 years after Ecurie Ecosse, in a thrilling race - long duel with tbe 962 C Porsches. The pace never let up and at tbe end the Wallace - Lammers - Dumfries XJR 9 1M was under a lap ahead of tbe Stuck - Bell - Ludwig Porsche 962 C. The winning Jaguar just failed to beat tbe all- time distance record of 5335,313 kms (Marko - Van Lennep Porsche 917 in 1971) by under 3 kilometres, a record which was set on a much faster circuit. The anticipated battle between England and Germany drew a huge crowd of over 200. 000 spectators, more than 40. 000 of whom were British, to tbe Sarthe. The Les Hunaudieres straight had been resurfaced and all time high speeds were reached, Stuck getting round in practifc at over 250 km/h and tbe WM at last breaking tbe magic 400 km/h barrier. Andy Wallace joined that select band of drivers who have won the Le Mans 24 Hour race on tbeir first tappearance : Messrs Leonard, Lagache, Nuvolari, Etancelin, Wnnille, P. Walker, Lang, Reiss, Bueb, Foyt and Haywood. Mastermind behind tbe Jaguar success was Tom Walkinshaw who had said tbat he reckoned it would take 3 years to win tbe race. And how right he was! The start was given by Mr. Yokose, tbe Sumimoto Group chairman assisted by Mr. Claude Cham, tbe Dunlop France President.

CIRCUIT :

13.535 kms. A third row of guardrail was installed on Les Hunaudieres which had also been resurfaced.

REGULATIONS :

No fuel consumption changes for the C1 and IMSA cars. For the C2s tbe allocation was increased from 1650 to 1815 litres.

STARTERS :

49 cars 6 nations 15 makes

France : 2 AIDs, 3 Cougars, 1 Rondeau, 2 WMs.

Germany : 11 Porsches.

Great Britain : 1 ADA, 3 Argos, 5 Jaguars, 6 Spices, 3 TIgas.

Italy : 1 Landa:

Japan : 3 Mazdas, 4 Nissans, 2 Toyotas. Switzerland : 2 Saubers.

SUMMARY:

On paper at least tbe 1988 24 Hour race 1ooked like being a battle between tbe 5 Jaguars, 3 works Porsches plus tbe Japanese cars and of course tbe ever improving Saubers with which tbe Mercedes competition departrnent were making no bones about tbeir involvement. In fact, tbe race resolved itself into a duel between tbe two first - mentioned as the Japanese were never in the hunt and tbe Saubers were withdrawn on Thursday after an incident in tbe Wednesday session. A tyre blew in tbe kink on Les Hunaudieres on Klaus Niedzwiedz at over 300 km/h and while tbe car did not go off the track, the cause of the blow - out could not be identified by Michelin. The 5 Jaguars were split into three from tbe world championship squad plus two from tbe IMSA series. To look after this armada tbe team brought along no fewer than 111 people including 14 drivers! The main modification to tbe 1988 Le Mans XJR 9 LM was the fitting of 17" wheels all round. This meant that tbere was no need to tilt the engine anymore, and tbe spats made tbeir appearance on tbe rear wheels adding to tbe downiorce necessary to negotiate tbe Porsche curves more efficiently. The Porsches had revised aerodynarnics plus tbe Motronic MP 1.7 engine management system.

At the end of lap 1 Stuck led past the pits hounded by Lammers who went ahead on lap 6 thus initiating the race - long duel that was to oppose these two cars. The other works Porsches also had their moments as tbe Andretti family (Mario, Michael and John ) no. 19 led for tbe odd lap while the Wollek - Van Der Merwe - Schuppan Porsche no. 18 had a 12 lap stint up front around the ninth hour. The first team to lose a car was Jaguar when the Pescarolo - Watson - Boesel XJR 9 LM went out during tbe tenth hour with broken transmission, but 2 hours later Porsche suffered a more serious blow with tbe disappearance of the Wollek - Van Der Merwe - Schuppan 962 with a blown engine. At the three - quarter mark, Lammers - Wallace and Dumfries had a 2 lap lead over Stuck - Bell and Holbert with the Brundle - Nielsen Jaguar in a handy third place. Not for long however as it was beginning to overheat and departed tbe dance in tbe nineteenth hour with a cracked cylinderhead. And then tbere were two. The Sunday morning drizzle saw Stuck pull back some precious seconds but fuel was running low and altbough managing to unlap himself, the lanky German could not draw closer to tbe elusive cat. Thus at 15H00 on Sunday aftemoon, a tired Jan Lammers took tbe chequered flag in no.2 followed by Jaguars nos. 22 in fourth and 21 in sixteenth place to give Coventry their sixth Sarthe victory in front of a deliriously happy British contingent and John Egan, the Jaguar chairman, who had backed the project all the way.

RECORDS :

Hans Stuck set a new record for tbe circuit in 3'22"50 a speed of 240.622 km/h. The Lammers - Wallace - Dumfries Jaguar set new average speed and distance records in 221.622 km/h and 5332.790 kms respectively. During practice Stuck got round in 3 min 15.7 sec

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Author: ArchitectPage