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55èmes Grand Prix d'Endurance les 24 Heures du Mans 1987

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Le Mans 1938
Le Mans
Le Mans 1962

Circuit Permanenthe de la Sarthe
Date: June 13th and 14th, 1987


Starters: 48
Track Length: 13,535 metres
Distance: 4791.700 km
Fastest Lap: Johnny Dumfries, Sauber Mercedes, 3:25.400 = 237.224 km/h
Poll Position: Bob Wollek, Porsche, 3:21.090 = 242.309 km/h
Average Speed: 199.661 km/h
The Porsche factory was down to its last car after an hour of racing at Le Mans, but that one car, driven by Derek Bell, Hans Stuck and Al Holbert, was enough to write some new pages in the record books. Bell won the race for the fifth time (now second only to Jacky Ickx's record of six victories), Holbert for the third time, and Stuck for the second time. It was Porsche's twelfth Le Mans success, and the seventh in a row. Could a manufacturer be more dominant than that?

After seeing the Silk Cut Jaguar challenge crumble, Sir John Egan declared "we'll keep coming back until we win", but the bleak fact was that Tom Walkinshaw would have to wring still more out of the XJR-8LM design to beat the works Porsches in 1988, and even that assumed that the Stuttgart firm didn't make further progress.

An hour into the race the Porsche camp was in complete disarray, and it seemed unlikely that the Rothmans team would succeed this time. Walkinshaw could not have written the script better, as the works and private Porsches went down like skittles, all victims of fuel-related engine failures. Four of the best had gone, including the works car of Jochen Mass/Bob Wollek, both the Joest Racing entries handied by Sarel van der Merwe/ David Hobbs/Chip Robinson and Frank Jelinski/Hurley Haywood/Stanley Dickens, and the Kremer entry for Volker Weidler/ Kris Nissen/Kunimitsu Takahashi.

It was an unequal struggle. Bell, Stuck and Holbert would have to uphold Porsche's honour on their own, with a car of doubtful reliability, against three superb Silk Cut Jaguars which lay first, third and fourth. Jonathan Palmer was fifth after the first hour, in the Britten - Lloyd Racing Liqui Moly Porsche shared with James Weaver and Price Cobb, and would continue to run strongly until the engine compartment went up in flames at midnight, seemingly for no apparent reason.

An estimated 40,000 British enthusiasts, more even than were to spectate at Silverstone and Brands Hatch that year, felt sure that the biggest prize in sportscar racing would fall to Jaguar this time. Many of them were on the terraces opposite the Jaguar pit waving banners and Union Jacks, and cheering loudly every sign of activity. Their octane rating was higher than that of the fuel supplied to all the teams, a blend which did the Porsches no good at all.

Jaguar's failure could be pinpointed to a crash caused by a burst-tyre, an engine breakage and a driver-forced gearbox breakage. "Our problems were unrelated and largely beyond our control," said Walkinshaw miserably on Sunday morning, for all that was left of his team was the car driven by Eddie Cheever, Raul Boesel and Jan Lammers to fifth place, the first car home with anything but a Porsche flat-six turbo in the engine compartment. Only four laps behind was Spice Engineerring's Spice Pontiac DFL, which ran to a copybook win in C2.

Walkinshaw recognised that the works Porsches were at least two seconds a lap quicker when speed was needed. Bell's car was well outside its fuel consumption target for ten hours, but it was safe to assume that pace cars, or rain perhaps, would intervene and bring the Porsche back on target. Ironically, it was Jaguar's Win Percy who caused the pace cars to come out for 80 minutes, after one of the most spectacular crashes ever seen at Le Mans.

Earlier, the tail cover had blown away when Jan Lammers was driving, putting the diagnostic system out of action; rain had affected the tyre temperature sensors anyway, and Percy had no warning that a rear tyre had deflated slowly, and would explode at a full 230 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. The XJR-8LM spun to the left, sliced off its tail, gearbox and rear wheels against the barrier then flew 200 metres upside down. "Please come down, please come down," prayed Percy, who later recounted every detail vividly. Laws of gravity eventually prevailed, and the car rolled, mostly sideways, for another 300 metres before coming to rest.

The car was utterly wrecked but the driver was not even scratched, although his helmet was ground down by contact with the roadway. The interior of the Tony Southgate-designed carbon-fibre and Kevlar chassis was intact, and Southgate proudly mentioned that not a drop of fuel was spilled from the nearly-full tank. After the pace cars had been parked, Mike Thackwell had a tyre failure at the same point in the Kouros Sauber Mercedes. He, at least, stayed on the road, but the car was too badly damaged underneath to continue.

All the leading drivers and team owners were becoming increasingly critical of Le Mans, but of course, like the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500, it had to be contested because it was there. Had Win Percy been hurt it is probable that all the professional drivers would have boycotted the 1988 event. Porsche manager Norbert Singer expressed a viewpoint: "I think Le Mans is going the same way as the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio and the old Nürburgring. The circuit was just not safe for the cars today. The trouble starts in the pits, which are totally inadequate but you can criticise the track everywhere."

Waiter Brun declined to race for his own team, and withdrew two of his cars with comparatively minor accident damage on the grounds of safety (the third, driven by newcomer Uwe Schafer, was destroyed after landing outside the barrier at the Porsche Curves, as had Price Cobb's Rothmans-Porsche during qualifying). Hans Stuck started the meeting badly for Porsche when he gave the three works cars a run on the Weissach test-track before loading-up on the previous Friday. While he was driving Mass's car a tyre failed and pitched him into a barrier, damaging the 962C badly. So Mass took Stuck's race car. Stuck took Schuppan's, and Schuppan the spare.

Cobb then wrote Schuppan's car off during Wednesday's practice session, so the Rothhmans team was down to two serviceable machines. "Only one of them can win," said Singer with forced optimism, but it turned out to be justified. Wollek claimed pole position at 3min 21.09sec (l50.57 mph) with Stuck close by at 3min 21.13sec, while in Jaguars Eddie Cheever, Martin Brundle and Jan Lammers responded next evening with laps in the 3min 24sec bracket. Next was F3000 driver Pierre-Henri Raphanel in the Porsche-powered Cougar, then the rumbling Kouros Sauber Mercedes qualified by Johnny Dummfries and Mike Thackwell. They, however, suffered a variety of transmission problems, with 700 bhp and masses of torque, and that was a bad omen for the race.

Gordon Spice C2
Despite two unwell co-drivers, Gordon Spice won the C2 battle with his own chassis ...
As rivals fell away, the real battle was between the 'BEST' (BelUStuck) Porsche and the Jaguars, and it continued at a furious pace for 16 hours. Cheever was ahead of the Porsche at the end of the first hour, but only by one second.

The Porsche was ahead of Brundle and John Nielsen by 12 seconds after two hours, by one second after three hours, and by 42 seconds after four hours. Then Brundle and Nielsen went a lap ahead for three hours during the evening, but when Bell, Stuck and Holbert went a lap ahead at midnight they were there for the duration, unlikely as that seemed at the time.

Percy's accident was the first blow to Jaguar, but after dawn Walkinshaw remarked: "It looks as though we have a race on our hands," which he would soon regret. Boesel spun his Jaguar at Arnage, damaging the nose and going three laps down.

An hour later Nielsen brought the second-placed Jaguar in with a rocketing water temperature gauge, and a cracked cylinder head was diagnosed. That car went out of the race, and half-an-hour later Cheever, in a real hurry, snicked reverse gear and the cog went through the transmission casing!

The damage was not terminal- the XJR-8 was still second, though only by a few seconds, when it rejoined the race 42 minutes later (the TWR mechanics were highly praised by Porsche's Waiter Naher), but in the nineteenth hour there was another 20-minute stop to have a rear suspension upright changed.

The Jaguar sounded crisp and looked aggressive throughout the last four hours, but Cheever and Boesel had no chance of finishing higher than fifth. The Kouros team's race was also without reward. Both cars stopped for new Bosch Motronic microchips early on, Dumfries then establishing a new lap record at 3min 25 .4sec, faster than he had qualified.

Soon enough the gearbox failed Chip Ganassi in a cloud of smoke, a transmission failure also stopping last year's Sauber Mercedes C8 in the early stages. Mike Thackwell visited some catch-fencing and Pescarolo lost an hour with a broken driveshaft, but the dark blue car went out at half-distance with a tyre failure which caused too much damage underneath. The Toyotas were good for a while, until Alan Jones' car stopped short of the pits unable to pick up the last few litres of fuel, and the Needell/Sekiya/Roshino entry retired in the evening with a blown cylinder head gasket.

Terada's Mazda 757 retired with loss of compression in one of the three rotors, and the V8-powered Nissans fought a losing battle with the Spice and Ecosse C2 teams, to retire after dawn with fewer than eight cylinders functioning. The Kennedy/Dieuudonne/Galvin Mazda ran beautifully, and saved Japanese honour with seventh place. Gordon Spice, Fermin Velez and Philippe de Renning were the clear C2 winners, their Spice Pontiac Fiero DFL delayed very little by a faulty water rail and finishing sixth overall. Spice confidently predicted this win at the test day in May, but first he had to overcome a two-car challenge from Ecurie Ecosse.

Mike Wilds' Ecosse disappeared in the night with a flat battery, the result of running behind the pace car for more than an hour, but Ray Mallock, David Leslie and Marc Duez were consistently ahead until nine o'clock on Sunday morning. The clutch had failed hours before and eventually a gearbox rebuild was necessary, but second place was secure. The thirtieth anniversary of Jaguar's last Le Mans victory, achieved by the Ecurie Ecosse team, could not be celebrated as either team would have wished. However, this race must have been one of Porsche's most satisfying victories, a triumph in the face of adversity, and a reminder of the task that still lay ahead of the ambitious Silk Cut Jaguar team.
1987 Le Mans Start
The works Porsches of Jochen Mass (No. 18) and Hans Stuck (No. 17) lead the Jaguars of Martin Brundle (No. 6) and Eddie Cheever (No. 4) from the start...
CLASS WINNERS
Group C1 Hans-Joachim Stuck Jr, D
Derek Bell, GB
Al Holbert, USA
Porsche 962 C
Group C2 Gordon Spice, GB
Fermin Velez, E
Philippe de Henning, F
Ford Cosworth DFL
IMSA David Kennedy, IRL
Mark Galvin, IRL
Pierre Diudonné, B
Mazda 757
Please Note: You can sort this listing by simply clicking on the column heading
Team / Entrant
Car - Engine
Driver, Nationality
1
1
17
Rothmans Porsche AG, D
Porsche 962 C
Hans-Joachim Stuck Jr, D
Derek Bell, GB
Al Holbert, USA
2995
Turbo
F6
C1
354
4791.777
-
2
2
72
Primagaz Compétition, F
Porsche 962 C
Jürgen Lässig, D
Pierre Yver, F
Bernard de Dryver, B
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
334
4531.992
-
3
3
13
Primagaz Compétition, F
Cougar C20-Porsche
Pierre-Henri Raphanel, F
Yves Courage, F
Hervé Regout, B
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
331
4491.417
-
4
4
11
Porsche Kremer Racing, D
Porsche 962 C
George Fouché, ZA
Franz Konrad, A
Wayne Taylor, ZA
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
326
4425.169
-
5
5
4
Silk Cut Jaguar, GB
Jaguar XJR-8 LM
Eddie Cheever, USA
Raul Boesel, BR
Jan Lammers, NL
6900
V12
C1
324
4394.891
-
6
6
111
Spice Engineering, GB
Spice Pontiac Fiero SE86C - Ford Cosworth DFL
Gordon Spice, GB
Fermin Velez, E
Philippe de Henning, F
3300
V8
C2
320
4332.471
-
7
7
202
Mazdaspeed Co Ltd, J
Mazda 757
David Kennedy, IRL
Mark Galvin, IRL
Pierre Diudonné, B
3532
3
Rotary
IMSA
318
4305.037
-
8
8
102
Ecurie Ecosse, GB
Ecosse C286 - Ford Cosworth DFL
David Leslie, GB
Ray Mallock, GB
Marc Duez, B
3300
V8
C2
307
4168.511
-
9
9
121
Cosmik GP Motorsport
Tiga GC 287 - Ford Cosworth DFL
Dudley Wood, GB
Costas Los, GR
Tom Hessert, USA
3300
V8
C2
274
3709.804
-
10
10
114
Team Tiga Ford Danmark, DK
Tiga GC 287- Ford Hart BDT-E
Thorkild Thyrring, DK
John Sheldon, GB
Ian Harrower, GB
2300
Turbo
L4
C2
271
3669.134
-
11
11
177
Automobiles Louis Descartes, F
ALD 03 - BMW
Jacques Heuclin, F
Dominique Lacaud, F
Louis Descartes, F
3453
L6
C2
269
3648.166
-
12
12
40
Graff Racing, F
Rondeau M 482 - Ford Cosworth DFL
Jean-Philippe Grand, F
Gaston Rahier, F
Jacques Terrien, F
3298
V8
C1
259
3505.718
-
13
NC
108
BMW - Bassaler - LAC, F
Sauber SHS C6 - BMW
Jean-Francois Yvon, F
Yves Hervalet, F
Hervé Bourjade,
3453
L6
C2
257
-
14
NC
127
Chamberlain Engineering, GB
Spice Fiero SE 86 C - Ford Hart
Nick Adams, GB
Graham Duxbury, ZA
Richard Jones, GB
2520
Turbo
L4
C2
239
-
15
NC
178
Automobiles Louis Descartes, F
ALD 02 - BMW
Michel Lateste, F
Gérard Tremblay, F
Sylvian Boulay, F
3453
L6
C2
235
-
16
DNF
181
Dune Motorsport, GB
Tiga GC 287 - Rover
Neil Crang, AUS
Jean Krucker, CH
Duncan Bain, GB
3000
V6
C2
260
22h
Engine
17
DNF
6
Silk Cut Jaguar, GB
Jaguar XJR-8 LM
Martin Brundle, GB
John Nielsen, DK
Armin Hahne, D
6900
V12
C1
231
16h
Head gasket
18
DNF
123
Charles Ivey Racing, GB
Tiga GC 287 - Porsche
John Cooper, GB
Tom Dodd-Noble, GB
Max Cohen-Olivar, MOR
2600
Turbo
F6
C2
224
19h
Crankshaft
19
DNF
116
Luigi Taverno Techno Racing, I
Alba AR 3 - Ford Cosworth
Luigi Taverna, I
Evan Clements, GB
Guido/Patrick Trucco, I
3300
V8
C2
219
22h
Gearbox
21
DNF
203
Rothmans Porsche AG, D
Porsche 961
René Metge, F
Claude Haldi, CH
Kees Nierop, USA
2850
Turbo
F6
IMSA
199
17h
Accident
21
DNF
23
NISMO Nissan Motorsport, J
March 87G - Nissan R87E
Kazuyoshi Hoshino, J
Kenji Takahashi, J
Keiji Matsumoto, J
2996
Turbo
V8
C1
181
16h
Engine
22
DNF
103
John Bartlett Racing, GB
Bardon DB 2 - Ford Cosworth
Tim Lee-Davey, GB
Robin Donovan, GB
Raymond Boutinaud, F
3000
L4
C2
172
19h
Transmission
23
DNF
125
Patrick Oudet Vetir Racing Team, F
Tiga GC 85 - Ford Cosworth
Jean-Claude Justice, F
Patrick Oudet, F
Bruno Sotty, F
3298
V8
C2
164
17h
Engine
24
DNF
5
Silk Cut Jaguar, GB
Jaguar XJR-8 LM
Jan Lammers, NL
John Watson, GB
Win Percy, GB
6900
V12
C1
158
11h
Accident
25
DNF
198
Roy Baker Promotions, GB
Tiga GV 286 - Ford
David Andrews, GB
Mark Peters, GB
Mike Allison, USA
2393
Turbo
L4
C2
139
16h
Gearbox
26
DNF
101
Ecurie Ecosse, GB
Ecosse C 286 - Ford Cosworth
Mike Wilds, GB
Les Delano, USA
Andy Petery, USA
3300
V8
C2
135
13h
Battery / electrics
27
DNF
61
Kouros Sauber Mercedes, CH
Sauber C9 - Mercedes Benz
Mike Thackwell, GB
Henri Pescarolo, F
Hideki Okada, J
4973
Turbo
V8
C1
123
15h
Accident
28
DNF
3
Brun Motorsport, CH
Porsche 962 C
Bill Adam/Adams, CDN
Richard Spenard, CDN
Scott Goodyear, CDN
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
120
9h
Engine
29
DNF
32
NISMO Nissan Motorsport, J
March 87G - Nissan R87E
Masahiro Hasemi, J
Takao Wada, J
Aguri Suzuki, J
2996
Turbo
V8
C1
117
16h
Transmission /
electronics
30
DNF
15
Equipe Liqui Moly, GB
(Britten Lloyd Racing, GB)
Porsche 962 C
Jonathan Palmer, GB
James Weaver, GB
Price Cobb, USA
DNS Pierre Petit, B
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
112
8h
Accident + fire
31
DNF
1
Brun Motorsport, CH
Porsche 962 C
Michel Trollé, F
Paul Belmondo, F
Pierre de Thoisy, F
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
88
7h
Accident damage
32
DNF
29
Italya Sports
March 86G - Nissan R86V
Anders Olofsson, S
Alain Ferté, F
Patrick Gonin, F
2966
Turbo
V8
C1
86
7h
Accident
33
DNF
2
Brun Motorsport, CH
Porsche 962 C
Oscar Larrauri, RA
Jésus Pareja Mayo, E
Uwe Schäfer, D
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
40
3h
Accident
34
DNF
37

Toyota Team TOM's, J
Toytota 87 C
Tiff Needell, GB
Masanori Sekiya, J
Kazuyoshi Hoshino, J

2140
Turbo
L4
C1
39
5h
Head gasket
35
DNF
62
Kouros Sauber Mercedes, CH
Sauber C9 - Mercedes Benz
Chip Ganassi, USA
Johnny Dumfries (John Colum Crichton-Stuart, Earl of Dumfries), GB
Mike Thackwell, NZ
4973
Turbo
V8
C1
37
3h
Gearbox
36
DNF
201
Mazdaspeed Co Ltd, J
Mazda 757
Yoshimi Katayama, J
Yojiro Terada, J
Takashi Yorino, J
3532
3
Rotary
IMSA
34
3h
Engine
37
DNF
36
Toyota Team TOM's, J
Toyota 87 C
Alan Jones, AUS
Geoff Lees, GB
Eje Elgh, S
2140
Turbo
L4
C1
19
2h
Out of fuel
38
DNF
113
José Thibault, F
Chevron B36 - ROC
José Thibault, F
Alain Heinrich,
DNS Remy Née, F
2135
Turbo
L4
C2
18
3h
Accident
39
DNF
18
Rothmans Porsche AG, D
Porsche 962 C
Bob Wollek, F
Jochen Mass, D
Vern Schuppan, AUS
2995
Turbo
F6
C1
162h
Engine / Piston
40
DNF
51
WM Secateva, F
WM P86 - Peugeot
Jean-Daniel Raulet, F
Francois Migault, F
Pascal Pessiot, F
2850
Turbo
V6
C1
14
2h
Engine
41
DNF
118
Olindo Iaccobelli, F
(Chamberlain Engineering, GB)
Royale RP 40 - Ford Cosworth
Olindo Iaccobelli, F
Jean-Louis Ricci, F
Georges Tessier, F
3300
V8
C2
13
4h
Engine
42
DNF
52
WM Secateva, F
WM P87 - Peugeot
Roger Dorchy, F
Philippe Gache, F
Dominique Delestre, F
2850
Turbo
V6
C1
13
4h
Head gasket
43
DNF
200
Dahm Cars Racing Team
Argo JM 19 - Porsche
Peter Fritsch, D
Teddy Pilette, B
Jean-Paul Libert, B
3200
Turbo
F6
C2
12
2h
Engine
44
DNF
8
Joest Racing, D
Porsche 962 C
Frank Jelinski, D
Stanley Dickens, S
Hurley Haywood, USA
DNS David Hobbs, GB
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
7
2h
Engine / Piston
45
DNF
10
Porsche Kremer Racing, D
Porsche 962 C
Kris Nissen, DK
Volker Weidler, D
Kunimitsu Takahashi, J
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
6
2h
Engine / Piston
46
DNF
117
Team Lucky Strike Schanche, N
Argo JM 19B - Zakspeed
Martin Schanche, N
Will Hoy, GB
Robin Smith, GB
1850
Turbo
L4
C2
5
2h
Blown tyre / accident
47
DNF
7
Joest Racing, D
Porsche 962 C
Sarel van der Merwe, ZA
David Hobbs, GB
Chip Robinson, USA
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
4
2h
Engine / Piston
48
DNF
42
Noël del Bello, F
(Pierre Alain Lombardi, CH ?)
Sauber C8 - Mercedes-Benz
Pierre Alain Lombardi, CH
Gilles Lempereur,
Jacques Guillot,
DNS Gerard Cuynet, F
4973
V8
C1
4
2h
Transmission
49
DNS
19
Rothmans Porsche AG, D
Porsche 962 C
Kees Nierop, USA
Price Cobb, USA
Vern Schuppan, AUS
2800
Turbo
F6
C1
-
Accident in practice
50
DNQ
171
Cee Sport Racing
Tiga GC 286 - Volvo
Tommy 'Slim' Borgudd, S
Tryggve Grönvall, S
Ray Ratcliff, USA
-
V6
C2
-
-
51
DNA
-
-
Lamborghini Countach
-
-
-
-
-
-
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