Part 3 The New David Cundy Collection & My Group C Racing The Golden Years
Le Mans 1986
When I arrived at Portsmouth docks I saw first hand how times had changed. The British were off on a jolly! So many GB plates but most amazing was the number of classic and sports cars! It was brilliant, like a great big family.
Down at Le Mans the qualifying and practice was exciting and colourful but the new fans had a bit to learn. The fact that Group C racing was a fuel based rules confused many British and German fans. The Germans thought their cars were far ahead of the opposition and the Brits thought the Jags were slow. Turbos and big fuel consumption was something the fans were learn all about over the next few years!
The race was pretty good and the place was packed but tragedy hit during the night with the death of Jo Gardner.
As it turned out the Jags all failed with niggling faults. Porsche steam rolled the race and Derek Bell became the most successful Brit to ever race at Le Mans with his fourth win! But the new fans had loved the spectacle. They had experienced the cars, noise, fair, bars and campsites! And the best moment of the weekend was when the Jaguar team came out with a banner “We’ll be back. Thanks for coming”. And they kept that promise.
Brands Hatch Comes Alive
In July the Brits were treated to an amazing Nigel Mansell win at the European GP at Brands Hatch. Before the race the massive six figure crowd saw a brilliant demo run of the Silk Cut Jaguars and a fantastic offer to see the following weeks Group C race for a pound.
Brands Hatch Group C and 40.000 people arrived. The massive cars looked brilliant on the close and narrow track. Once again the Jaguars had failed to win against the Porsches but yet more new fans had fallen for the beautiful Sports Prototypes!
Around the world Endurance racing was becoming almost as popular as in the UK and in the USA the IMSA cars which were very similar to the group C cars were becoming popular. This was good for car manufactures as they could race similar chassis on both sides of the Atlantic. Porsche, Mazda, Nissan and Jaguar did just that.
To say most fans followed all this would be a lie, most people just loved the cars and loved the atmosphere of the races.
I started my year again at Silverstone and I can honestly say I can understand why only 20,000 fans came to see the Jags before Le Mans. It was bloody freezing!
But once again the build up to Le Mans was brilliant. Even more fans flocked across the channel. The ticket and programme featured the Jaguar which won a few more fans! But the race was once again a repeat of 86 and the Jaguar pit once again presented a banner that said “We’ll be back”. And of course the Brits cheered as Mr Bell became even more successful with yet another win.
Well for me this was the year that started a four year spell of what was the best racing I have ever witnessed. It was not just the racing it was atmosphere, fun and something to be very proud to be apart off!
Once again Silverstone was chilly but 35,000 had arrived to see the Silk Cut Jaguars win! Jaguar had finally beat Porsches in the States at the Daytona 24 Hours race and the crowd finally felt the TWR Jaguars were more than a match for not only Porsche but the now very fast Sauber Mercedes.
And so it turned out! A Jaguar win, a close one with the Mercedes just seconds behind! But best of all a great celebration at the end. The crowd were hanging around well after the race all with the intention of wishing the Jag team well for the next race Le Mans!
Part 4 In the next few days
Keywords: 962", group C Racing, IMSA gtp, le mans 1986, le mans 24 hours, porsche, porsche 956, Sauber Mercedes, silk cut Jaguar, tetre rouge le mans, twr, wec'
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