Le Mans 1989 Scrutineering Gallery

Photography by Alan Lis
Now here's something different: scrutineering at Le Mans 15 years ago. This was the first year of the Silver Arrows - and they won, despite the best efforts of the Jaguars, Nissans, Toyotas and the pink Joest Porsche. Perhaps that should read because of the misfortunes met by these opponents.
         
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Mercedes-Benz returned to Le Mans in an official capacity for the first time in 34 years.
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Sauber C9 In Silver - The second placed Baldi / Brancatelli / Acheson car.
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The Silver Arrows were the centre of public and media attention.
         
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Team principal Peter Sauber and chief designer Leo Ress.
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Dave Price proving that the ‘basin’ haircut never went out of fashion.
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One of the most charismatic cars was the WM P400. Run by a group of volunteer mechanics and other staff, in 1988 the P400 had been the first car to achieve a speed of over 400kph/250mph on the Hunaudieres Straight.
         
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The Aston Martin V8 engines were prepared by Callaway Competition. This company would later return to Le Mans and race its own variations on the Chevrolet Corvette theme.
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During 1989 the Max Boxstrom-designed Aston Martin AMR1 showed promise that would sadly be snuffed out at the end of the year by internal Ford politics.
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Nissan commissioned Lola Cars to design and build its new Group C chassis. Andy Scriven, now with Crawford Racecars, was the project’s chief designer.
   
   
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Mazdaspeed’s 1989 Le Mans programme was entrusted to Alan Docking Racing. Two years later Mazda became the first Japanese manufacturer to win Le Mans with a further developed version of this car run by the French ORECA organisation.
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Joest Racing received Porsche factory support in 1989. The 962 would bid to add to Porsche’s six Le Mans wins in the Group C era. Stuck and Wollek were at their peaks in the late 80s, and the pink car deserved to win, clutch bothers eventually slowing it.
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Although an ageing design by 1989 standards, the Porsche 962 was a serious contender.
         
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The production based all-aluminium Mercedes-Benz M117 V8 engine in the 1989 race winning car. Turbocharged to 2.2-bar the M117 developed over 800 bhp. A hot qualifying lap from the C9, the Toyota or the Nissan was a fantastic sight.
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In 1989 Toyota introduced a new purpose built turbocharged V8 racing engine. This would prove to be the forerunner of its successful CART power unit and the engine used in the Toyota GT-ONE in the late 1990s.
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Nissan hired the enormously experienced Keith Greene as team manager. In the 1960s Keith raced in Formula One against Jim Clark, Graham Hill and Stirling Moss, in the 1970s he moved into team management working at Brabham with Bernie Ecclestone for a while and during the 1980s was a revered team manager in sportscar racing. He’s still around now.
         
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