1990 Jaguar XJR Racing Car
- Year of manufacture1990
- Chassis number490
- Lot number256
- Number of seats2
- Exterior colourOther
- Fuel typePetrol
The ex-TWR JaguarSport; Martin Brundle/Alain Ferté/Jan Lammers
1990 Jaguar XJR-11 Group C Sports Prototype
Chassis no. 490
This important Jaguar is one of just three XJR-11 prototypes built for the World Sports Car Championship and the most successful example.
Despite Jaguar having dominating the 1988 World Championship and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it was becoming clear that the normally aspirated V12-engined TWR Jaguars were gradually losing competitiveness, especially in view of the shorter sprint events that FISA were introducing. Cars powered by the latest turbocharged engines, which were lighter and more compact, were gaining the upper hand, and in response TWR JaguarSport (a collaboration of Walkinshaw's TWR and Jaguar) started the development of a suitable V6 engine for the 1989 season. The project would be overseen by the legendary Ross Brawn, later Ferrari Team Principal and founder of his own Formula 1 team
Jaguar's new engine was based on the Cosworth-designed V64V engine originally intended for the MG Metro Group B rally car, and which would also be used for the Jaguar XJ220 supercar. The design allowed for two variants: a 3.0-litre engine for the American IMSA series and a 3.5-litre to Group C specification for the World Sports Car Championship. Of all aluminium construction, the 24-valve V6 engine weighed just 143kg and was fitted with two Garrett turbochargers, delivering a maximum power output of around 750bhp in 3.5-litre Group C specification.
To exploit the more compact dimensions of the new V6, JaguarSport's Tony Southgate designed an all-new chassis, which would be known as the XJR-10 for the lMSA series and the XJR 11 for the Group C entries. The engine was mated to a five-speed gearbox that served as a fully stressed structural member and helped stiffen the chassis, which was essentially an evolution of the successful XJR-6/8/9 carbon fibre monocoque. Suspension was by double wishbones, with the front springs and dampers actuated by pushrods and the rears mounted outboard. This unconventional set-up freed up more space for the ground-effect tunnels, which significantly increased downforce and grip levels. Indeed, such was the improvement that many racing drivers have commented that a Group C Jaguar offers an unparalleled driving experience.
While the XJR-10 debuted at Lime Rock in May 1989, the Group C specification XJR-11 had its first race at Brands Hatch in July. Expectations were high when the car of Jan Lammers and Patrick Tambay qualified in pole position. However, like its IMSA counterpart, the XJR-11 faced stiff competition from the Sauber Mercedes team with their hugely powerful V8-engined 'Silver Arrows', and could do no better than 5th. Sadly, disappointment was to be a recurring theme throughout the 1989 season as the team was dogged by misfortune for most of the year.
In spite of considerable improvements undertaken by TWR and Jaguar, the 1990 season started no better with a disappointing result at Suzuka. The next race on 29th April was held at Monza and saw the debut of the third and last XJR-11, chassis '490', which was driven by Martin Brundle and Alain Ferté to a highly creditable 3rd place against the formidable Mercedes C11s. This performance encouraged Walkinshaw, who was confident that the XJR-11's superior handling would have greater impact on other lower-speed circuits, such as Silverstone, the location for the next round of the Championship. For this race, '490' had its wide-track nose fitted, and Walkinshaw's earlier confidence was amply justified with Brundle and Ferté taking 1st place in chassis '490' and TWR JaguarSport securing a one-two victory in front of a jubilant home crowd. Unfortunately, the success of Silverstone was not to be repeated at Spa, but Brundle and Ferté managed to qualifying 3rd before their race was curtailed by an electrical fire. The next appearance for '490' was at Dijon, where Brundle, fresh from his Le Mans victory, qualified 2nd and finished 5th.
In August, the car was renumbered and raced at the Nürburgring as chassis '1190'. This entry brought another 3rd place finish, a result which Brundle and Ferté appeared to have repeated at Donington until they were frustratingly disqualified following a refuelling error. The last two races of the 1990 season at Montreal and Mexico City were similarly plagued by misfortune, but the car put up strong performances in qualifying with a grid position of 3rd at Montreal and pole position at Mexico City. For these last two races, Brundle was paired with Jan Lammers, and the pair had the satisfaction of leading the winning Sauber Mercedes C11 of Mass/Schumacher at Mexico City before they retired. In spite of the disappointments over the year, TWR JaguarSport still finished runners up in the team championship, which was due in large part to the successes achieved by Brundle and Ferté in chassis '490'/'1190'.
Following rule changes for the 1991 season, which prohibited turbocharged engines, the XJR-11s were replaced by the Formula 1-inspired, V8-engined XJR-14s, and chassis '1190' moved to the All-Japan Sports Prototype Championship where it reverted to its old chassis number '490' and raced with the livery of its sponsor, Suntec. Over the course of the 1991 season, the car was entered in six races, three of which were at Fuji and one each at Suzuka and Sugo, securing a 6th at Sugo and 7th at Fuji against strong competition.
After the 1991 season, chassis '490' was restored by TWR and sold to a private collection. While there it was carefully maintained before re-entering Historic Group C racing in the 2000s, competing with much success. The car was retired in 2010 and subsequently underwent a full restoration from the monocoque upwards by JD Classics, who earlier this year race-prepared the car in anticipation of an entry in the 2018 Le Mans Classic (which did not materialise). This car has had a full engine and gearbox overhaul by JD Classics; has been completely rewired; and will have been dynamometer tested by time of sale (results will be available). It now provides a wonderful opportunity to acquire a correct and historically important TWR Jaguar that secured the type's only win and was driven by three of the top sports car drivers of its time. Offered in wonderful condition, this race-ready car would be an excellent contender for Patrick Peter's Historic Group C Series and a sure front runner.