1988 Jaguar XJR-9 LM
Pilots: J. Lammers, J. Dumfries, A. Wallace
Team: Silk Cut Jaguar
Race: 1st GC (C1 class) at Le Mans in 1988
TSM - TSM2017 (resin)
With five victories at La Sarthe from 1951 to 1957, the 50’s are called the “Jaguar Years”. In the 60’s and 70’s Jaguar’s presence at Le Mans was never with a works team. That changed in the early 80’s, when stimulated specially by Tom Walkinshaw, Jaguar decided to get back in the game. And that meant going up against the mighty Porsche 956 in Group C. So in 1984, 35 years later, Jaguar had once again a works team at Le Mans. The car was the XJR-5, but it had to abandon with just three hours to go. Jaguar did not give up and continued developing the car, and for the 1988 season the XJR-9 LM was ready.
The XJR-9 had a carbon fiber and Kevlar monocoque chassis with the engine as a structural part. To keep aerodynamics smooth, carbon composite panels made the body. The engine was a huge V12 with 6995 cm³, 24 valves, SOHC and capable of 750 hp. And to transmit all those ponies to the ground Jaguar used a March/TWR 5-speed manual gearbox. Impressively, the car weighed only 881 kg, and had a top speed of 395 km/h.
At the 24 Heures du Mans of 1988, Jaguar really wanted to win. Silk Cut Jaguar brought a fleet of five XJR-9s, but the competition was stiff. Between factory and privateers, there were 11 Porsche 962C in the race. It was a tense race, with the Porsche works cars qualifying ahead of the XJR-9s. The five Jaguars gradually got to the top until the first car had to retire at the eighth hour. And at the 19th hour a head gasket on the second car failed. But tragedy almost struck when car #2, in the lead, suffered transmission problems. But Jan Lammers noticed it in time and left the car in fourth gear. Even with only one gear, he finished the race two minutes ahead of the fastest Porsche.
Interesting model, this one. Not counting that detail level is top notch, it came in a set commemorating TSM’s 10th anniversary. The set is composed by this Jag and the Apple 935, and only 200 were made. Though I tried to find more info, I’m clueless to why TSM used these two cars in particular. Both are absolutely gorgeous models, and the XJR-9 came with the Silk Cut decals as an extra. Decals are great, but with no instructions to what goes where, it was a hard job to apply them. So even though I had to mildly curse because of the decals, this is an AWESOME set.