Report from Grand Prix International
There are some weekends when it seems that things can only get better. Lancia had one of those at the Nürburgring. On his first lap of practice, Riccardo Patrese had a horrifying, cartwheeling accident which knocked him out and from which he was lucky to survive. He was luckier still to walk away completely unhurt, but his car was a mess. Former co-driver, Michele Alboreto, also crashed his car that day. Lancia would not start from pole position, and two cars needed repairing. Yet from all this Lancia salvaged victory.
Indeed, at one time Cesare Fiorio's team might not have even had final victory for glory. After three hours of racing, the works pole-winning Ford driven by Klaus Ludwig/Manfred Winkelhock was over a minute in the lead on what could be termed its local circuit. But then the transmission failed, and into the picture came Patrese in the Lancia. It may not have been intentional but it was coincidental. He had just completed a couple of wary laps, the first after his accident, and the first of his stint. He was now leading - by two laps.
The Lancia picture was not a little confused. Now that Alboreto and Patese had both built up a fine championship points total they were split into different cars, and would take the second driving stint, just in case it became necessary for either to swap to the other's car. Ghinzani (sharing with Patrese) had already gone out with a broken gearbox. Fabi and Alboreto had got the car into a fine position despite faulty refuelling equipment. When the Ford retired, Patrese joined the other two and the three drivers kept up a good average to win by a lap. It was Patrese's thrid World Championship win in 15 days.
By half distance, any challenge to the leaders from the Group C men had disappeared, the proximity of Le Mans had scarcely made for an interesting Group C entry: one Ford, a solitary Sauber, the works Lola, a single Rondeau, the usual WM and Jost's Porsche. Newcomers were the stubby URD which Harald Grohs crashed to the detriment of photographers at the first corner, and Yves Courage's Cougar which was retired by Patrick Gaillard after a single lap due to broken rear suspension. Stuck went well in the Sauber early on until the engine broke after four laps, and Wollek was in third just before half distance when a burst tyre sent co-driver Philippe Martin off the track. After 15 of the 44 laps, the fifth placed Lola T610 broke its engine. The little WM was sidelined with ignition failure on lap one.
So into second place came the lone Rondeau, the team's main problem being Rolf Stommelen's health. The German driver, sharing with Henri Pescarolo, was so sick he was unable to do his full stints, but the Frenchman as usual did his best and kept the car on the road to finish second.
The Group C men had largely failed, but both Pescarolo and Ford Rondeau were very well placed in the championships. Third was a Group 5 BMW M1, similar to the one that won the previous year, while in ninth place was a Group B Porsche 911 which was to cause controversy later in the season but would push Porsche to the championship title.
|1||Alboreto - Fabi - Patrese||2||Lancia Martini LC1||44 laps|
|2||Pescarolo - Stommelen||7||Ford Rondeau M382C||-1 lap|
|3||Kelleners - Calderari - Grano||14||BMW M1||-3 laps|
|4||Schimpf - Fishaber - Ketterer||19||BMW 320||-5 laps|
|5||Lloyd - Dron - Volker||22||Porsche 924 GTR||-5 laps|