European Touring Car Championship 1984
Round 11 Zolder

Volvo victorious

M agnificent win for Granberg/Kvist Volvo Turbo - Walkinshaw's third places secures Drives title - Race interrupted by torrential downpour - Serious incident involving Guitteny's Bastos BMW.

After looking potential winners for most of the season, the Swedish Volvo 240 turbos finally came good at Zolder with Ulf Granberg and Robert Kvist taking the flag and serving notice that the Volvo is going to be the car to beat in ETC next year. However, having carefully nurtured the Jaguar Legend this season, Tom Walkinshaw finally brought it to fruition by finishing third, and in so doing winning the title he narrowly missed last year.

QUALIFYING

It has to be said that no one was really surprised when the Jaguar team mono-polised the front three slots on the grid at Zolder. Unbelieveably, this was to he the ninth time in 11 races that the three XJSs had led the field away. At Vallelunga only two of the cars were at the front, while at Spa, where the team only fielded two cars, they had both been on the front row. That must be some kind of record, and very impressive too.

At Zolder, though, it was not as easy as it had been in the past. In prerace testing the Volvos had put up some very impressive times and come qualifying they so nearly upset the Jaguar qualifying record. Having lived through the nightmare of Silverstone, Tom Walkinshaw was more determined than ever that he was not going to lose the title this time. In the dry first practice Tom went out early, did a couple of winding up laps, and then went for it. Two flying laps and a safe pole position. As it turned out Tom was to qualify both the front row Jaguars.

The Enzo Calderari/David Sears car was looking a bit of a handful early on with Enzo twice taking to the grass at Sterrewachtbocht, the tight lefthander after the pits. The Jag looked positively unstable under braking, weaving alarmingly as the Swiss driver fought the car. After a further excursion when he straightlined the chicane behind the pits.

Enzo came in and Tom Walkinshaw decided that it was time to have a go himself, with the two Swedish Volvos looking very threatening. With the car on some soft new rear rubber and some older fronts, out he went, began to wind up and then came into the pits with a puncture. It was the Volvo menace again. Coming through the hairpin Tom had run over the remains of the front lights of one of the Belgian Volvos.

Out he went again, and the Jags were one-two-three once more. "I was glad I got held up by a VW Golf," admitted the Scotsman, "I might have knocked myself off pole!" Win Percy and Chuck NichoIson found themselves demoted to third in their brand new XJS - its predecessor having heen sent to the breakers yard after the Woodcote accident. "What Woodcote accident?" asked Chuck Nicholson. "I don't know what you are talking about!"

For the second time this year, the Jaguars were using water injected brakes - to slow the heavy cars down as disc temperatures rose above 600 degrees at this notoriously bad circuit for brakes. It seemed to work well. After practice, the Calderari/Sears Jag had a new engine put in, but with rain in the second session, only Win Percy went out to sort out a wet set up.

The Volvo threat, in qualifying at least, had been thwarted, but the `flying bricks' looked very fast indeed, particutarty when Granberg went out, throwing his 240 about merrily and splitting the Jaguars until 'Uncle Tom' went out. With Eje Elgh racing F2 in Japan his partner for the weekend was to he Robert Kvist.

The Lindstrom/Olofson car was not tar behind and sailed through practice without a problem. Since his assault on the armco in practice at Silverstone, the Lindstrom car had been hack to Sweden to have its chassis retwisted, and was in perfect shape.

The BMW challenge was led by Hans Stuck and Dieter Quester, on Pirellis for the second race running. Hans was not overly worried about the pace of the Jags: "They can't go that fast in the race." The second Schnitzer car was only two places behind and fastest of all in the wet second session with Berger at the wheel. "I had a lot of trouble with the traffic," commented the AT S man. "I kept trying to find a gap to make my qualifying run, and in the end I did not have the tyres warm enough. I could go half a second quicker, for sure, no problem."

Splitting the two Schnitzer cars was the first of the Rovers. With Steve Soper and Jeff Allam already in Australia in preparation for the Bathurst 1000 Kms, there were only two Vitesses at Zolder and it was Armin Hahne who led the way, despite having to miss 40 mins of the first session to have a rear axle changed. His major problem, like many others, was traffic; 48 cars trying to qualify together made Zolder look like Piccadilly Circus. Armin, in particular, had problems with the Belgian Volvos. "Next time, I buy them some mirrors," he commented.

The second, Gitanes sponsored, Rover was two slots behind, with Tony Pond and Eddy Joosen troubled by a touch of understeer. Further back, the only championship threat to Walkinshaw, the Kelleners/Brancatelli BMW Italia car was having serious problems with both electrics and the setup, but still managed to outqualify the team's second car, which Umberto Grano put into a wall coming out of the Jacky Ickxbocht. The damage was slight, although the bodywork looked severely worse for wear. The Belgian Volvos were on the pace too, despite both sporting damaged front ends.

The second session started wet and became worse. but everyone was kept happy by Hans Stuck, as ever, a joy to watch. The Volvos looked terrifying in the rain, incredibly quick in a straight-line. but all over the place in the corners, while the Bastos BMWs of Guitteny/Gartner and Thibault/Vojtech indulged themselves in some lovely power slides, trying to make up for a poor first practice.

RACE

The Sunday morning warmup was overcast, but the sun was making some attempt to fight through. Tom Walkinshaw led them out, but it was the Granberg Volvo that topped the time lists ahead of Walkinshaw, Ravaglia, Kelleners and Stuck, but they were all very close indeed.

The race it seemed was all going to be about tactics and it was a nervous Tom Walkinshaw who stood in the pits watching Hans Heyer. Tom was playing it safe, ready to jump into whichever Jaguar was in the best position at the first driver change. From the rolling start Hans led with Win Percy tucking in behind him, but the third Jaguar was quickly displaced by Granberg. As the pundits nodded knowingly, the three Jags and the two Volvos pulled quickly away from the rest, followed by Quester and Berger, although the latter was quickly past and in hot pursuit, driving impressively quicker than the other BeeEm men.

Behind these two there was a wonderful battle in the early laps as the two Rovers took on the two BMW Italia cars with Delcourt's Belgian Volvo hanging in there.

At the front it was quickly clear that the Volvos had not been sandbagging and Granberg made short work of Percy and set off in pursuit of the leader. Lindstrom, too, was making progress, passing Calderari and beginning to home in on the next Jag in his path. All was not well, however, and soon after Granberg took the lead, Lindstrom came into the pitlane on three cylinders, for a lightning spark plug change. Elsewhere, BMWs were making early stops with brakes smoking alarmingly.

Once in the lead Granberg let the Volvo go and was pulling away at over a second a lap, with Lindstrom charging through the field to make up lost ground. The battle for seventh place continued apace with the Rover and Eggenberger camps disputing every inch of the road.

Close to the end of the first hour Win Percy brought his Jaguar into the pits with overheating problems. Although Chuck Nicholson took the car out, its race was run and it was to retire just as the rains came.

For half an hour a storm had been gradually moving towards Zolder. It looked like Silverstone all over again. And when it came, it came with a vengeance a flash of lightning and then chaos. Both the Jaguars had made their first stop so the order was Granberg 50 secs clear of Berger, with Lindstrom by now back in third ahead of Quester and the first of the Belgian Volvos. For two laps the survivors struggled round. Berger went missing, his BMW skating into the barriers at the Kanaalbocht with a gaggle of Alfas performing synchronised spins. Out of the murk came a circuit incident car, then another and it was clear that there had been a big accident somewhere. A few moments later out came the pace cars - for the third consecutive race - but on this occasion they picked up the leader. As the murk began to clear, it seemed as if the huge Texaco advertising hoarding was a little askew down at Sterrewachtbocht and then suddenly you could see why. There was a BMW, or at least the remains of one, perched on top of the barrier with its nose buried in the Texaco sign. News filtered back that the driver, Lucien Guitteny, was unhurt, but two journalists had been injured.

For nearly 10 laps the field circulated behind the two pace cars and everyone tried to sort out who was where, frantic pitstops having sent everyone into a state of confusion. Granberg was still in the lead behind the first pace car while his pursuers were lined up behind the second, waiting to do battle, Stuck, Walkinshaw and Lindstrom waiting for the off again. When it came, there developed a magnificent battle between Walkinshaw and Stuck with Olofson not quite able to hang on. Twenty laps later, with the dry line getting wider and wider as cars went in search of water, Stuck dived for the pits - the first man out on slicks. In went Tom for some grooved slicks and rejoined 1.2 secs behind the BMW, then they were all coming in again, the last to go being the leading car itself. When it came out of the pits, we had a race on our hands, Granberg, Stuck and Walkinshaw all within striking distance.

If this was not enough, Olofson began to close in, these four now well ahead of the pursuers, led by Marc Duez, who was enjoying a battle with Win Percy who had taken over from Enzo Calderari.

They were getting closer when, with only 20 laps to go, Stuck came through in the lead. Down at the hairpin Granberg, in overtaking some backmarkers, had gone wide onto the grass and spun. Twenty laps to go and 6 secs to catch.

Round came Granberg taking 2 secs a lap off Stuck. Two seconds a lap! The sheer power of the Volvo and the determination of Granberg was something to behold. Poor old Hans Stuck just had to watch as the Volvo whistled through to retake the lead. But the fun was not over jet.

With only a handful of laps left, Olofson homed in on Walkinshaw and for three laps they were nose to tail. Then at the chicane behind the pits, the dispute was settled as they came upon Marc Duez. The Jaguar went down the inside and the Volvo went for the outside - crash, bang, wallop! Tom was over the hill and away leaving Duez and Olofson to extract themselves from the mud and work out the damage. Both pitted, the Rover with a mauled rear end and the Volvo with dents all over it. The Swedish team whipped out the crowbars and Olofson was despatched again, but by then Walkinshaw was far enough ahead.

Special Thanks To: Glyn Parham and Paul Adams.

The Race Results

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Two journalists hurt in Zolder accident.

An unpleasant accident befell the Bastos BMW of Lucien Guitteny at Zolder during the ETC race.
In the middle of the torrential downpour, shortly before half distance, Guitteny lost control going through "Sterrenwachtbocht" just after the pits. The BMW careered across the grass, into, and over, the harrier and hit an advertising hoarding.
Guitteny was unhurt, but two journalists reporting on the race were injured: One, Robert Bellot of Turbo magazine is thought to have broken his pelvis; the other, ex-rally driver Hermes Delhar suffered less severe injuries.
The car came to rest on top of the harrier where it remained for the rest of the race.

© RWP dec. 2004