After a quarter-century’s absence, Group C sports cars returned to Le Mans and did so in style! Providing the spectacle were 30 fantastic Group C machines that took to the grid in glorious sunshine to compete in the historic support race organized by Motor Racing Legends. The 10-lap sprint is part of the four-round Group C Racing series for 2008.
Fittingly, it was the Jaguar XJR V12 driven by Justin Law that took victory, exactly 20 years on from the famous Jaguar-Porsche duel that produced victory for Jaguar and a marked shift in the balance of Group C power.
Law rolled back the years to lead from pole to checker, although 2nd-placed Mark Sumpter (Porsche 962) only backed off when it became clear a win would not be possible. An ecstatic Law said: “It’s awesome, I never expected this, I’m over the moon! I could see Mark in my mirrors all the time, so I just kept pushing as hard as I could.”
It was less controlled behind the leading pair as an exciting battle unfolded between Fredy Kumschick (Spice SE GTP), Gary Pearson (Jaguar XJR11) and Oliver Mathai (Porsche 962C).
After holding a solid 3rd most of the way, Kumschick lost out in the final corners as the charging Pearson, who started 15th, made a desperate last-lap lunge. Unfortunately for Fredy, Gary’s Jag just tagged the Spice, sending it wide and dropping Kumschick two places down the order. The chief beneficiary of the coming together was Mathai, who’d qualified 9th and enjoyed a superb race-long battle with Pearson that was only settled in those final meters.
Law and Sumpter thus finished 1st and 2nd in Class C1, while Mathai and Pearson took those spots in C2. The Class 3 and 4 winners were Peter Schleifer (March 84G) and Christopher Catt (Spice GTP Light), respectively.
Although more than two decades past their prime, Group C cars remain dear to the heart of the motorsports enthusiast. The Le Mans spectators just couldn’t get enough of these iconic racers, and a similar event held at Silverstone in late July awarded its winner the David Leslie Memorial Trophy, dedicated to the memory of the recently deceased sports car legend.