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Old 14 Feb 2008, 03:34 (Ref:2128434)   #1
racer69
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1987 World Touring Car Championship Discussion

We've had a lot of threads here lately discussing Group A cars, so i thought how about a thread dedicated to the greatest touring car championship (in terms of everything put together) for these cars, the first World Touring Car Championship from 1987.

Plenty of things to discuss;

- Why did it take until 1987 for a world series for touring cars to first take place?

- Why after a year of planning, sponsorfinding (they had a series naming-rights backer) and hard work by the NZ-based Strathmore Group, did the FIA at the last minute decide to hand the running of the series over to Bernie Ecclestone, who straightaway undid all the hard work done by Strathmore, and decided to impose huge entry costs per car for series registration(aimed at weeding out the privateers for a manufacturer-only series), while at the same time barring any non-registered entries from scoring points or earning prizemoney....(though the individual promoters could still pay prizemoney to anyone, the money Brock earned from winning Bathurst helped save his team), and at the same time killing the interest the likes of Nissan had in competing in the 1987 series, leaving just Ford, BMW, Maserati & Alfa Romeo (who pulled out after the European part of the season anyway)

- I wasn't complaining, but how did Australia wind up with two rounds of the championship?

- Presuming the Eggenberger Fords ran in the same spec from their debut at Brno until Bathurst, why did it take until Bathurst for someone to query the legality of the cars? Sure there was a supposed underhand deal with BMW, but there were plenty of other private Sierra's, as well as the likes of Maserati & Alfa Romeo to kick up a fuss

- Why were the FIA & Bernie so keen on killing it from the start anyway. All we heard all year were rumour after rumour, like the series wouldn't happen, it would be stopped after Silverstone, and the biggest joke of all, the continued barrow-pushing of Procar, which effectively killed Group A off as a whole....despite the fact only the 1 Procar spec car was ever built!


But on a whole, despite the controversies, weren't we treated to some spectacular racing that year, in what ultimatly in my opinion was a successful series in terms of the on-track spectacle.

Every round featured big grids filled with a variety of cars, there were plenty of interlopers & locals (particularly at the British, Australian, New Zealand & Japanese rounds) who were competitive, and all who competed seemed enthusiastic about the whole thing, and were committed (along with new manufacturers like Nissan & Toyota) to the future of the series......just a pity the governing body couldn't have cared less about it as it may have taken some manufacturers eyes off F1 abit....

Time for some discussion
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Old 14 Feb 2008, 09:37 (Ref:2128556)   #2
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Any competitor to F1 has been squished by the FIA/FISA. Look at Group C for a start and the fact that having an F1 race at Indy helped provide the readies to get the IRL up and running to kill CART. Bernie obviously wanted the Silhouette series (which he controlled - and which I may be alone in thinking would actually have been an interesting idea, a sort of Euro NASCAR) so maybe that coloured any opinions.
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Old 14 Feb 2008, 22:01 (Ref:2129158)   #3
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- Presuming the Eggenberger Fords ran in the same spec from their debut at Brno until Bathurst, why did it take until Bathurst for someone to query the legality of the cars?
Ermm, Brock, Holden, The Mountain...
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Old 15 Feb 2008, 04:52 (Ref:2129320)   #4
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Ermm, Brock, Holden, The Mountain...
Brock wasn't involved in the protest though, it was led by Frank Gardner and JPS BMW, with initial support from the Peter Jackson Nissan Team & the Roadways Commodore team (Grice & Percy)
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Old 15 Feb 2008, 07:47 (Ref:2129368)   #5
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I'm sure I remember reading something written at the time that suggested a certain amount of rule-bending was tolerated in Europe, so long as no-one did anything too outrageous. I know they were DTM cars which had never been near an ETCC round, but didn't the AMG Mercs that went to Bathurst the previous year have trouble with the scrutineers- carbon-fibre in all kinds of places where it shouldn't have been, that kind of thing?

If you look at the number of protests and homologation issues that flew around in European Group A, it certainly suggests that most of the top teams were pushing their luck...
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Old 15 Feb 2008, 07:58 (Ref:2129381)   #6
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What about the wholesale exclusion of BMW at the first round. How else could Moff and Harves had won.
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Old 15 Feb 2008, 08:01 (Ref:2129384)   #7
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Any competitor to F1 has been squished by the FIA/FISA. Look at Group C for a start and the fact that having an F1 race at Indy helped provide the readies to get the IRL up and running to kill CART. Bernie obviously wanted the Silhouette series (which he controlled - and which I may be alone in thinking would actually have been an interesting idea, a sort of Euro NASCAR) so maybe that coloured any opinions.
I think there's something in that- I remember a piece in Autosport, possibly the end-of-season review, in which the author described all of the political stuff around the change of promoter, championship entry fee etc with a comment something like 'you'd almost get the impression someone didn't want this to succeed'

The Procar series could have been interesting, but to me was pitched at a totally different market- as I remember, it was manufacturers-only, 2x sprint race format and possibly intended to run as a support at GP meetings.

Like the adoption of F1-style 3.5 litre regs in Group C, I always had the suspicion that it was intended to draw the manufacturers into F1 by the 'well you're already making basically an F1-legal engine for your ProCar/Sportscar, so wouldnt it makes sense....' route....
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Old 15 Feb 2008, 08:07 (Ref:2129387)   #8
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What about the wholesale exclusion of BMW at the first round. How else could Moff and Harves had won.
If I remember correctly, the reason given for the BMW exclusons was that they were running unhomologated lightweight panels- the only M3 not DQ'd was a Hungarian privateer entry, which I think had been built up from a street M3 shell, rather than a BMW Motorsport kit, so didn't have the illegal parts
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Old 15 Feb 2008, 16:16 (Ref:2129689)   #9
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It was reported in some cases to be as little as plastic bootlids, but either way the cars were underweight.....interesting note to that is that Moff & Harves never received the trophy for winning that race, one assumes BMW still have it somewhere.

Another thing that suprised the Australian contingent who went to Europe in 1986 as a pre-cursor to a WTCC attack in 1987 was the state of the fuel and some of the teams 'special brews'

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The Procar series could have been interesting, but to me was pitched at a totally different market- as I remember, it was manufacturers-only, 2x sprint race format and possibly intended to run as a support at GP meetings.
After the Procar idea was dropped, rumours always cropped up at some point for the following two or three seasons of plans to run 'manufacturers only' international touring car races supporting various GP's, most of the time the ruleset linked was the DTM version of Group A
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Old 15 Feb 2008, 18:36 (Ref:2129752)   #10
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Yep it was going to be called 'Super Europe Cup' and most likely run by ITR which ironically then ended up running the ITC/DTM thing which was the same series in principal to what a Grp A one would have been.

I also think the ITC was the kind of concept Bernie wanted with Procar but didn't get....... so that didn't last very long either....

Any rate! WTCC was a brilliant for a young Grp A fan like me. I watched/read up on most of the International Grp A serie in the 80's and was gutted when the WTCC, and then shortly after the ETC stopped....

Made absolutely no sense at all to me.

The 1988 WTCC would've been mega.

Eggenberger would've continued with the RS500 for sure, probably up against much the Skyline GTS-R would've featured strongly too with at least 2 European entered cars and possibly 2 semi works cars from Australia. And of course a works entered TWR Commodore squad with as many as 3-4 cars no doubt? Tom was looking on the Holden as the ideal replacement to the Rovers and something to challenge the Sierras. We'd also have had much stronger Supra Turbos competing than we ended up with as well.

I also reckon that Alfa 75 would've been much closer to the M3 after some more development and then Merc would've wheeled out an upgraded Merc 190/16 to compete (I guess what the 2.5/EVO ended up being)

But for me the Turbo's in unrestricted form started the beginning of the end of Grp A. I would've preferred Turbo's with restrictions up against lots of big engined normally aspirated models in the big class. Like 1986 - ok the Turbos weren't actually restricted but the competition between Rover, Ford, Holden, Volvo and BMW at the front was intense. Highly competitive and entertaining year.

Manufacturers that had been there or might have cars 'on the stocks' in development for the WTCC suddenly only had domestic series to compete in.

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Old 16 Feb 2008, 06:35 (Ref:2130062)   #11
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Brock wasn't involved in the protest though, it was led by Frank Gardner and JPS BMW, with initial support from the Peter Jackson Nissan Team & the Roadways Commodore team (Grice & Percy)
Maybe evidence of the cultural divide. Aussies hate getting beat at home. Anything to win.

In 85 Dick Johnson's sniping at the JRA assualt was childish to the point of amusement. He couldn't protest them.

Bit like cricket...
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Old 16 Feb 2008, 07:54 (Ref:2130074)   #12
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Maybe evidence of the cultural divide. Aussies hate getting beat at home. Anything to win.
No one enjoys getting humiliated at home, and when it gets done by a car that's blatantly outside the written rules...

The European teams were warned at Spa by the organisers of the Bathurst race to tidy their acts up as Australian scrutineering was a little more strict than they were used to. That there was no RS500 Sierra to compare the Eggenberger car to was unfortunate, as it would have solved the matter there and then; the red and black cars would have romped away and won the race legally, Brock would only have 8 Bathurst wins, and Klaus & Klaus would've won the WTCC driver's championship.

Car legality was always going to be the problem with an international touring car championship that was so heavily based on production cars. Every country, every team, had a different interpretation of the rules - some (cough-TWR-cough) more liberal than others - and that was always going to be the area where a world championship was likely to have problems. Not championship-killing problems, though; the FIA had Bernie for that!

P.S. Dick might not have been able to protest the TWR cars in '85, but he sure knew what to protest on them in '88!
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Old 16 Feb 2008, 08:25 (Ref:2130082)   #13
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The 1988 WTCC would've been mega.
Now there's a thought. How would the 1988 WTCC have gone had the '87 edition ran smoothly and been popular?

The '88 Silverstone TT proved that International-level Group A touring car racing could turn on a great race provided that there was quality equipment in the field. Johnson had his cars better developed; Rouse's operation was much stronger by dint of not trying to prepare cars for the WTCC and BTCC; Eggenberger, of course, had his cars percolating along quite nicely.

The Nissan had still yet to complete it's development period, but proved to be very strong at places like Zolder, Dijon, and Donington. It would never have the outright power to beat Sierras at the Silverstones and Spas of the world, but they would have been able to push the Sierras and prey on their bugbear of reliability. It would have been interesting to see how the Howard Marsden-run HR31 would have gone at the Spa 24 Hour in 1989.

Walkinshaw would have struggled throughout 1988 with a car that was not competitive with the turbocharged opposition it would have faced. The light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel TWR VL would not, as the TT and that year's Bathurst showed, immediately prove to be the Sierra-beater that was promised. Furthermore, with the death of the ETCC and the seeming apathy of Holden towards the ATCC, the car received absolutely only limited development in 1989. In 1990, however, the car finally received the development that it sorely needed by the HRT and by Larry Perkins, and the results were there for all to see in that year's enduros. With that kind of development in 1989, the car would have been a contender in the longer distance races.

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Old 16 Feb 2008, 10:59 (Ref:2130136)   #14
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The TWR Holden project not shall we say being the golden ticket Tom had hoped for (although no doubt he saw a potential cash cow in the production car market) in Grp, A begs the question that if his Group C and latterly F1 efforts hadn't taken precedence, would he have looked to GM/Holden to homologate a different vehicle (A redesigned VL or a Calibra, Omega) or link up with another European make for ETC/WTCC campaigns had they continued.

Volvo springs to mind....I bet he'd have been onto the board saying something like: 'You know that Flying Brick you had that somehow beat my Rovers. Well how about a newer, better more powerful version to take on the RS500?'

Back to '87. it was the start of smething that would've been massive. Major manufacturer interest from all the big Euro makes. Surely Merc and Audi would've entered before long? And would GM have brought out a global car badged as Vauxhall, Opel, Holden or Chevy depending on what county it was in?

I mean there were even rumours that the Americans would quickly have seen the marketing potential of such a series. Maybe Eggenberger, TWR or Prodrive would've been running Chevrolets or pontiacs by 1990!

As for the 87 racing BMW ran 3 works team didn't they, or was it 4? Schnitzer, Linder, Bigazzi with Prodrive joining in at home and Gardners JPS cars in the Aus/NZ events. The cars and drivers were very closely matched and they can be thankful the Alfa wasn't strong enough to take points off them whilst they were busy squabbling amongst themselves!

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Old 16 Feb 2008, 11:20 (Ref:2130148)   #15
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Volvo springs to mind....I bet he'd have been onto the board saying something like: 'You know that Flying Brick you had that somehow beat my Rovers. Well how about a newer, better more powerful version to take on the RS500?'
Quite possible- wasn't there some kind of rumour towards the end of '87 about TWR and Volvos? I reem to recall a suggestion in Autosport that TWR had borrowed and tested a 240 Turbo (maybe one of the ex-works cars Soderqvist ran in the ETCC), and maybe even a suggestion of Walkinshaw racing it in one of the late-season races, possibly some part of the Australia/NZ/Japan leg of the WTCC, either with TWR running the car themselves, or Tom driving a Soderqvist entry- The SRS team did go to NZ and Japan as I recall....

There's also a photo been posted on here sometime of a what I think may have been a prototype Group A 740 Turbo, with a very aggressive-looking, almost Supertouring-style, aero kit. I think the car is now in the Volvo factory museum collection. Was this a potential replacement for the 240 turbo....?
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