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1986 Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-6

Photo: BRDC Archive

Without a doubt, the racecar that gave me the most pleasure, and therefore my greatest racecar, was the Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-6. I drove it at Silverstone, with Derek Warwick as my teammate, in the 1986 Kouros 1,000-kms race, which we won by a substantial two-lap margin over the Rothmans Porsche of Derek Bell and Hans Stuck. It ended Porsche’s four-year domination, but more significantly, it was Jaguar’s first sports car victory since the Ecurie Ecosse D-type of Flockhart and Bueb crossed the line at Le Mans in 1957. Tom Walkinshaw prepared the cars to a very high standard, which made driving the car relatively easy. The car handled just perfectly, averaging just under 130 mph for the length of the race. In my opinion, Tom was one of the best team managers in the world; he was certainly the best manager I raced for.

I came very close to winning the Le Mans 24 Hours race in the XJR-6 the same year, again partnered with Derek Warwick. Jean-Louis Schlesser was the third driver. Unfortunately, on the Sunday morning, while Jean-Louis was driving, a tire exploded; despite making it back to the pits, the car was too damaged to continue. That’s the nature of the Le Mans challenge. It was a further two years of waiting before Tom and the Jaguar team realized the dream of winning the 24 Hour race, in 1988. Jaguar was a really amazing team, a lot of effort, very well organized, and directed by Tom.

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