13 Feb 2014
Porsche heaven-Le Mans 1985
How's this for Porsche heaven? The one minute board for the grid at the 1985 Le Mans 24 hour race.The front row is the two works Rothmans 362 of Ickx and Mass(#1) and Bell and Stuck(#2).On the second row is the Lancia LC2 of Bob Wollek,Nannini and Australian Lucio Cesario(#4) and the eventual winner the New-Man Joest 356 of Ludwig,Barilla and "Winter"(#7).The third row is the Lancia of Pescarolo and Baldi and the #3 Porsche of Holbert Schuppan and Watson.What a line up of the greats of sports car racing .
It was a classic Porsche v Porsche battle with the Ferrari F1 V8 engined Lancias thrown in for good measure.
I was there ostensibly to cheer on the Group44 Bob Tullius Jaguar V12s and although they put in a very professional effort they were not upto either the pace or the reliability of the Porsches.
The US Group44 team were supported by Jaguar North America.The US sales company wanted the Jaguar UK factory to put their weight behind the Group44 effort for a full assault on Le Mans in 1986 but weeks before the 1985 race Jaguar's sales and marketing chief,Roger Putnam,had signed off on a deal for Silk Cut cigarettes to sponsor Tom Walkinshaw's TWR team's entry into the World Sports Car Championship starting in 1986.It took three attempts before TWR won Le Mans in 1988 ending Porsche's domination of the race.Jaguar absolutely made the right decision to go with TWR but the US sales company were not at all happy about it at the time and probably enjoyed some private schadenfreude when the TWR Jaguars stumbled in the 1986 and 1987 races despite their huge resources .
In 1985 the Le Mans pits had not been rebuilt so compared with today's massive structure the pits and the stands above were very crowded.
I took this photo with my Olympus OM2 and I believe that I used my Olympus Zuiko 28mm lens which was a beautiful lens.
The photo was taken on colour negative film.It has deteoriated and stained badly and was not usable as a colour photo so I have had to convert it to black and white.There is still some visible damage on the image which could be cleaned up in Photoshop if I had the time.
The atmosphere at those 1980s sports car races was special.It does look as if sports car endurance racing is making a serious comeback with Porsche rejoining this year and now Ferrari talking about a possible comeback into the top LMP1 category in 2015.
Last weekend the Bathurst 12 hour GT sports car race was held here at Mount Panorama in Australia and it was a cracker and was won by a Ferrari-- so much more exciting than the tiresome V8 saloon car race at the Mountain.
And as a postscipt to this story I have just found two copies of the Jaguar media pack for the Group44 V12 cars from the 1985 race wedged in between books on my bookshelves.The media release reflects sunny optimism which history shows was very misplaced but that's motor racing.