1990 24 Hours of Le Mans
|1990 24 Hours of Le Mans|
|Previous: 1989||Next: 1991|
|Index: Races | Winners|
Two chicanes were introduced along the Mulsanne Straight prior to the race. This was done to reduce the maximum speed of the cars after the Sauber C9 of Kenny Acheson reached 400 km/h (249 mph) the previous year. FISA refused to renew the licence for the track unless the chicanes were installed to comply with a ruling passed by the World Motor Sport Council. The ruling decreed no circuit licensed by FISA may have a straight longer than 2km.
Qualifying was dominated by Nissan. Mark Blundell in car 24 pulled out a phenomenal lap to qualify six seconds faster than anyone else (helped by the turbo wastegate sticking wide open), with the Japanese marque securing first, third, fourth and fifth on the grid. They were split by the Brun Porsche driven by Oscar Larrauri. The 25 Nissan which qualified fifth had a very short race. The car had to start from pit lane due to a issue with the gearbox, but it didn’t even complete a full lap before the problem proved terminal and it had to pull up.
The opening hours of the race looked much the same as qualifying, the Nissans swapping the lead with the Brun Porsche, whilst the Jaguars moved up the field after a sub-par qualifying. But four hours in a major incident occurred. Gianfranco Brancatelli driving the 24 collided with the Toyota of Aguri Suzuki at the Dunlop curve, the Japanese driver was uninjured but his car and the barrier were destroyed. Although the Nissan only had to pit to fix a damaged front nose, it was the beginning of the teams downfall; all of their cars would suffer from various problems during the night, with the 24 and 83 both dropping out. The incident also allowed the Jaguars to take control of the race, number 1 in the lead followed by number 3. Their sister car, number 2, lost time when Franz Konrad beached it in the gravel at Indianapolis.
As night fell problems began to hit the Jaguar team, with both no. 1 and no. 4 hit by engine trouble, allowing no. 3 to assume the lead. The problems would eventually put the 1 out, and it sparked a crucial decision from boss Tom Walkinshaw. He decided to remove Eliseo Salazar (who’d yet to drive) from the 3 and replace him with their top driver Martin Brundle, in an attempt to maximise the cars chances. The Chilean would subsequently be transferred into the 4 to replace the lacklustre Luis Pérez-Sala.
The decision paid off, as the 3 dominated the second half of the race allowing Brundle, John Nielsen and Price Cobb to claim victory by four laps, Jaguar’s second in three years. Second place looked like it was heading to the Brun Porsche, but with just 15 minutes of the race remaining it blew its engine. A heartbreaking result for the little team who had been the fastest Porsche all week. This allowed the no. 2 Jaguar of Jan Lammers, Andy Wallace and Konrad to complete a 1-2 for British marque. The misfortune of the Brun car also promoted the Japanese Alpha Racing Porsche, driven by the all-British crew of David Sears, Tiff Needell and Anthony Reid to a shock podium finish and the honour of top Porsche, ahead of the more fancied Joest car. The remaining Nissan, the all-Japanese no. 23, completed the top five.
Class winners in bold. Cars failing to complete 70% of the winner's distance marked as Not Classified (NC).
- Pole Position - Mark Blundell, #24 Nissan Motorsports International - 3:27.020
- Fastest Lap - Steve Millen, #84 Nissan Performance Technology Inc. - 3:40.030
- Distance - 4882.4 km
- Average Speed - 204.036 km/h
- Highest Trap Speed — Jaguar XJR-12 - 353 km/h (219 mph) (race), Nissan R90CK - 366 km/h (227 mph) (qualifying)
- "1990 Le Mans 24 hrs overview". Motor Sport Magazine. July 1990. Retrieved 2020-01-08.
- "1989 Le Mans 24 Hours" C.Moity & J.M. Teissedre, Autotechnica, London 1989
- "FISA waves stick at Le Mans". Motor Sport Magazine. January 1990. p. 74. Retrieved 2020-01-08.