History – The First Of The XJRs
XJR-6 Chassis 185
Thanks to www.wyles-hardy.com,
we have access to the race histories of a number of the Tony Southgate-penned
XJR Jaguars – the ones currently for sale by private treaty. For more information
call 44 (0)1442 832234.
was the first of the TWR Jaguar XJRs, and was built during
May and June 1985. It was first tested by Martin Brundle, at
Snetterton, and its race history is outlined below. Some time
after 1985, it was converted to a show car and painted in Silk
Cut livery, carrying number 1.
It was fully
restored by TWR personnel in the early 1990s, and re-painted
in the original green and white, pre-Silk Cut, livery.
intention was to debut the car at Hockenheim, but that proved
an impossible target. Insufficient spares were available to
allow even the sole existing XJR-6 to race in Germany.
the cars’ debut race, and in these early days, the XJR-6s
suffered from considerable understeer. Tony Southgate explains
that “the aerodynamics were very close, because I’d
used my experience in designing the C100 when creating my next
design, the XJR-6. The single, large side radiator in the C100
just didn’t work (aerodynamically), so I made the decision
from the outset to plonk a front radiator in the Jaguar.”
XJR monocoques – in carbon of course – were over-engineered,
and therefore somewhat overweight (just over 900 kg). For 1986,
with time available to go through the whole design, Southgate
came up with a lighter variant – but the first three
chassis, the ’85 cars, were a very good starting point.
understeer was an easy fix,” explains the designer. “Easy” because
he’d created a massively stiff monocoque, one that could
handle a very stiff front anti-roll bar. Until that could be
tested and race-developed, the understeer was partially cured
by fitting a front wing. The big V12 was the issue – not
just big, but heavy too. 250 kg with a high centre of gravity,
and the weight transfer as drivers threw the ground effect
car into the corners caused a pitching across the front end:
hence the need for a robust anti-roll bar. The other part of
the fix was to ask Dunlop for wider, slightly taller front
a compressed time frame, two cars made their debut at Mosport,
185 running as #51, driven by Martin Brundle and Mike Thackwell.
285 was shaken down on the day before Qualifying. 185 weighed
in at 910 kg, the new chassis was 15 kg lighter.
ongoing throughout Practice and Qualifying. The nose wing caused
the front tyres to suffer, but Dunlop delivered larger fronts
to the circuit – and they arrived during second Qualifying.
Brundle found the steering heavier, but handling and braking
were improved. He placed #185 third on the grid with a 1:12.602,
nearly three seconds slower than the Porsche pole time (Hans
Stuck – using high boost). Porsche welcomed the rivalry
from the V12s, and were apparently surprised at their pace,
so soon into development. Porsche surprised at the competence
of Southgate and TWR?
have surprised Norbert Singer even more on lap one, taking
the lead (above) and staying ahead for ten laps. How many new
cars make a debut like this? The front left wheelbearing failed
at 13 laps though (another “easy fix”), so the
two #51 drivers were switched to #52,
which finished third, 19 laps down on the first and second
placed 962s (Stuck / Bell followed by Mass / Ickx).
the XJR-6s’ maiden race was overshadowed by the death
of Manfred Winkelhock.
Roger Silman referred to “hundreds of items to attend
to,” but for Tony Southgate, the time for a raft of changes
was 1986. “The fuel system was a really rushed job, and
was pretty unsatisfactory: there were three fuel cells and
it wasn’t ideal in most respects.” But there were
four more 1985 races to enter before Southgate could concentrate
entirely on the redesign for the ’86 cars, although he
didn’t attend all of the remaining ’85 races, choosing
to stay at his drawing board at the end of the season.
saw Brundle qualify eighth in #185, he and Thackwell finishing
fifth – and the XJR-6s’ second race was also marred
by tragedy: Stefan Bellof lost his life at Eau Rouge. There
was a knock-on effect at TWR: Brundle was Bellof’s team
mate at Tyrrell, and Ken forbade the Briton from any more sportscar
drives. Up stepped Jan Lammers – to begin his sparkling,
Le Mans-winning, TWR career.
drove the 52 car at the next race, Brands Hatch (below), where Jean-Louis
Schlesser partnered Alan Jones in ‘our’ number 51 (#185).
Rear bodywork (shortened) and front anti-roll bar (stiffened further)
changes helped the handling around the twisting Kent circuit, while
the front wing was raced for the first time. But a new problem arose,
tyres turning on rims. Jones then had a stuck throttle early in
the race, wrecking the engine. Lammers’ debut in 285 ended
with a broken valve spring – another problem that would be
resolved for the following year.
Fuji in October
saw the European entries withdraw owing to a flooded circuit
(John Nielsen would have to wait a few weeks to make his Jaguar
debut), so the race ready cars were shipped to Shah Alam in
Malaysia, for the ’85 cars’ final race.
were so torrid that the Jaguar drivers - most of them anyway
- were suffering from the heat and humidity after just half
an hour in the cockpit. The story goes that Jan Lammers completed
an hour in 285, and was then beckoned over by Tom Walkinshaw – and
promptly hopped into 185, for another hour behind the wheel
(hence the listing of three drivers in 51, below).
Nielsen / Thackwell finished second, the best finish for chassis
185 in its short racing career. It’s a significant car
in so many ways, but at the top of the list is the fact that
it’s the first of the TWR Jaguars. And it’s fully
rebuilt, around that massively strong monocoque.
The next part
of the story involves the ’86 cars, and how they developed
into the ’87 Championship winner, #287, also for sale through
Wyles Hardy & Co. We’ll quiz Tony Southgate about the
development process through to 1987, and bring the story of #287
the plan changed...the next part of the story is that of the 1990
Le Mans winner, to tie in with the 71st Le Mans 24 Hours)
History, Chassis #185
3rd July Mosport, Canada 51 Martin Brundle / Mike Thackwell Retired
1st September Spa-Francorchamps 51 Martin Brundle / Mike Thackwell 5th
22nd September Brands Hatch 51 Alan Jones / Jean-Louis Schlesser Retired
6th October Fuji, Japan 51 John Nielsen / Mike Thackwell Withdrawn (Heavy
9th December Shah Alam, Malaysia 51 Jan Lammers / John Nielsen / Mike
to Chris Mann for the Mosport
images, David Wall
for the Brands Hatch image..