The first time I met Tom Walkinshaw was in 1984. I had been invited to meet him at Tom Walkinshaw Racing’s (TWR) headquarters in Kidlington, Oxfordshire. Although I’d never met him I knew he was a tough Scot and businessman. He’d had a successful driving career and was now into team management with a significant record in motor sport behind him. When he spoke to sponsors they would listen and believe what he said, so he managed to get some of the best deals and budgets available. He was a tough character, built like a rugby player who wouldn’t look out of place in a scrum. He always had his fingers on the pulse and was always in control. I got on very well with him, and I was pleased to work with him on his next project—producing a Group C car for Jaguar.
Bob Tullius and his Group 44 organization had produced an IMSA GTP Jaguar XJR-5 car in the USA. This was the benchmark that Jaguar wanted Tom to use to produce a car suitable for European sportscar racing and ultimately win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As I’ve said, Tom was a tough character and always firmly in control. It went against most things he stood for to use someone else’s design. If Jaguar wanted success he would need to start from a blank sheet of paper. Personally, I thought the XJR-5 was a neatly packaged car, but not something that would take on the best Group C cars—which at that time were Porsches.
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