LE MANS 24 HOURS 1989

10th - 11th June

55 starters 19 classified finishers

The prospect of Ihe Jaguar/Mercedes - Benz duel attracted another huge crowd to the Sarthe (more than 230.000 spectators). It was the second win for Mercedes - Benz (and a double) for a manufacturer who had first appeared in the Sarthe 59 years earlier. This year there were no works Porsches but a considerable amount of factory help had gone into the preparation of the 3 Joest entries, the German team having won the Dijon round of the World Sports Prototype Championship. Another famous name making its reappearance was Aston Martin whose 2 cars carried a black band on their left wing in homage to John Wyer, the man behind their 1959 victory, who had died on 8th April. The 2 men with the most the Mans races (22) under their belts, Henri Pescarolo and Claude Ballot Lena were together for the first time in a Joest entered 962 C Porsche. There were also sons of past champions notably Damon Hill whose father Graham had triumphed in 1972, Geoff and Gary Brabham, sons of 3 times Fl world champion "BlackJack", David Sears and Bemard Thunerwhose fathers had raced in the fifties and early sixties. Mazda again triumphed in the IMSA category for the second year running and all 3 cars finished, the highest in seventh place, a portend of what was to come. The start was given by Mr. Roger Bambuck, tbe national education minister and also minister of youth and sports.

CIRCUIT :

13.535 kms : No changes.

REGULATIONS :

The A C. O. 's desire to maintain its independence and above all not to give the CI rights to its famous race to tbe FIA led to Ihe 24 Hours being witbdrawn from tbe world championship. The minimum weight of Cl cars was increased from 850 to 900 kgs while Ihe C2 weight of 700 kgs remained unchanged. It was forbidden to adjust tbe turbocharger pressure from tbe cockpit. In anticipation of tbe 1991 regulations, cars witb 3. 5 litre engines and a maximum of 12 cylinders were allowed to race witbout any fuel restrictions. For all tbe otber cars the fuel allocations were the same as the previous years.

STARTERS :

55 cars 4 nations 14 makes

France : 1 ALD, 3 Cougars, 1 WM Germany : 17 Porsches, 3 Sauber Mercedes.

Great Britain : 1 ADA 1 Argo, 2 Aston Martins, 4 Jaguars, 9 Spices, 3 TIgas.

Japan : 3 Mazdas, 4 Nissans, 3 Toyotas.

SUMMARY:

1989 marked tbe official retum of the works Mercedes - Benz to the Mans for the first time since 1955. The major change to tbe C9 was tbe use of a 4 valve per cylinder V8 engine for better fuel consumption. The previous year's winners , Jaguar, had 4 cars litted with the latest version of tbe 7 litre power unit pushing out around 750 bhp transmitted to the track through 18" tyres at tbe rear instead of 17" as in 1988. Both Aston Martins were powered by a big 6 litre V8 engine, the second car being completed in tbe pits! The first hour saw a battle for the lead between Jaguar, Porsche and Mercedes witb the Coventry entry covering over 230 kms in 60 minutes. Nissan had already lost a front - runner when Bailey harpooned Nielsen's Jaguar at Mulsanne in a vain bid for second place. Jaguar hopes turned sour in tbe fourth hour when the leader, the Daly - Jones - Kline XJR 9 stopped on Mulsanne for half an hour before struggling back to its pit. This let the Stuck - Wollek Porsche 962C into a lead it was to hold for almost 5 hours before a water hose failure, and a slipping clutch dropped it back. Merc├ędes meanwhile were playing a waiting game as the Lammers - Tambay - Gilbert Scott Jaguar went to the front for 81 laps. But at 6H 17 on Sunady morning the leading car carne into the pits with no oil in tbe gearbox, and for tbe first time in tbe race a Sauber Mercedes was in front in the hands of Acheson - Brancatelli - Baldi. Not for long however as around an hour later, Baldi spun no. 61 in tbe Dunlop chicane and the sister car of the eventual winners, Mass - Dickens - Reuter, went into first place. The Jaguar had got going again after tbe mechanics had changed tbe gearbox in only 49 minutes but it was too far back to worry the leading cars. As both the Daly - Kline - Jones and tbe Nielsen - Wallace - Cobb XJR 9s had retired (engine trouble), Tom Walkinshaw would not repeat his 1988 triumph, fastest lap being his only consolation. One of tbe Astons (Leslie - Mallock - Sears) had retired but the Redman - Los - Roe AMR 1 was still rumbling around to an eventual eleventh place finish. Up front tbe 2 Saubers sailed on to an uncontested win while behind, the Joest entered 962 C of Stuck and W ollek held on to third ahead of tbe Lammers - Tambay - Gilbert - Scott Jaguar which fought its way back to fourth pasing the third works Mercedes. Just after 13H00. The Bell- Needell - Weaver Porsche caught tire on tbe outside of the Dunlop curve, the fifth car to be eliminated in this fashion. Thus at 16H00, Peter Sauber's team achieved their dream as no. 63 crossed tbe line followed by no. 61 which had been stuck in fifth gear since 14H30. Local boy Yves Courage's C 20 driven by Andruet - Farjon and Kasuya triumphed in tbe C 2 class ahead of tbe British Spices and Tigas.

RECORDS :

Fastest lap fell to Alain Ferte's Jaguar in 3'21"27, a speed of 242,093 km/h and a new record for tbe circuito If the 5000 km barrier was again breached, tbe winning Sauber Mercedes's 5265.115 kms was still some 67 kilometres fewer than tbe Jaguar's record of 1988. Quickest in practice was Jean Louis Schlesser in the Sauber Mercedes with a lap in 3'15"04, a speed of 249.826 km/h. Fastest car on Les Hunaudieres in practice was the Baldi - Acheson - Brabcatelli Sauber Mercedes at 400 km/h and in tbe race this honour fell to the Nielsen - Wallace - Cobb Jaguar at 389 km/h.

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Author: ArchitectPage