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jaguar xjr 11- chassis number: 590
Estimate

£1,050,000 - £1,100,000

Time left

Auction over

Description

The Jaguar XJR-11 is the forgotten Group C car to emerge from the Tom Walkinshaw Racing stable. The V6-powered machine didn’t notch up the successes of the normally-aspirated V12 predecessors, but the car introduced during the second half of the 1989 World Sports-Prototype Championship represented a significant step forward. Jaguar had claimed a first Le Mans 24 Hours victory in more than 30 years in 1988, and it had won both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in the World Sports-Prototype Championship that year for good measure. But it knew that the writing was on the wall for its line of Group C cars powered by Jaguar’s production-based, normallyaspirated V12 powerplant. The result was a new design from the pen of Tony Southgate powered by a lightweight turbocharged engine. The Sauber Mercedes squad, now with the full weight of the German car giant behind it, had been pointing to the future with the early successes for its WSPC contender powered by a twin-turbo five-litre V8. The modern powerplant was simply more efficient than a V12 engine that had been conceived back in the 1950s. Efficiency, remember, was the name of the game in the Group C fuel-formula, which restricted the amount of fuel each car could use in the race. A turbocharged engine also gave Sauber and Mercedes, like it had done Porsche before it, an advantage in qualifying. The boost could be turned up for a hot lap, a luxury not available to Jaguar. TWR knew it had to react and experimented with — and briefly raced — a 48-valve version of the V12, but it proved complex and only exacerbated the top-heavy characteristics of the narrowangle 60-degree V12. Instead, TWR boss Tom Walkinshaw hatched a plan to use an engine developed from Austin Rover’s 6R4 Group B rally car of the mid-1980s. It was the starting point for what would become the all-alloy JRV6 powerplant that raced in 3.5-litre form in Group C and as a 3.0-litre in IMSA competition in North America. The engine tipped the scales at under 150kg, whereas the V12 weighed nearer 250kg. The XJR11 — and its IMSA cousin, the XJR-10 — retained the family look of the line of V12-powered TWR ‘Tomcats’, but it was in fact a new car. “The XJR-11 followed the design theme of the previous V12 cars, but there wasn’t much that was interchangeable between the two,” says Alastair Macqueen, chief engineer at the TWR Jaguar project. “The monocoque was completely different, the sidepods were lower, as was the rear deck. The geometry was all new and the wheelbase longer. “It was really an evolution of the previous design taking into account that it had a smaller, lighter engine. But it was fundamentally a better car. It had a lower centre of gravity and more downforce.” The first turbo TWR Jag - built, like its predecessors, around an Advanced Composites carbon monocoque — was up and running as early as January 1989. The Group C car that would receive the XJR-11 type number tested before its IMSA sibling, though it would be the car destined for North America that would race first: the turbo IMSA car made its debut at the Lime Rock round in May, two months before the first race of the XJR-11 at Brands Hatch. The car was given its first run-out at Donington Park. Straight out of the box, it was half a second quicker than the V12-powered XJR-9. TWR then moved to Jerez in Spain for a more concerted test with Jan Lammers and Patrick Tambay driving. The team was on a steep learning curve with turbocharged technology, particularly when it came to the Group C version of its latest creation. WSPC rules dictated that the cars must run on pump petrol, whereas IMSA allowed higher-octane racing fuels. TWR’s engine guru, Allan Scott, had to overcome initial detonation problems and produce a driveable engine with manageable power delivery. The XJR-11 made its debut on home ground at Brands in July. Both TWR crews switched over to the new car in what turned out to be an encouraging debut. Jan Lammers claimed a debut pole position for the car ahead of the two Sauber-Mercedes, while Davy Jones put the second turbo car fifth on the grid. A third entry, a V12-engined XJR-9, could only line up 11th on the grid in John Nielsen’s hands. Lammers didn’t capitalise on pole - he was sixth at the end of the first lap. But the two brand new Jags were still in the mix when both hit issues within minutes of each other during the middle portion of the race. Lammers and Tambay went on to finish a delayed fifth, while the sister car shared by Jones and Alain Ferte ended retired with distributor problems. There was another front row for the car at Spa and another top-six finish at Nurburgring as TWR continued to develop the XJR-11 in competition, though it opted not to take the turbo car to the WSPC series finale in Mexico. That development continued into the 1990 season. A series of updates came on stream for the Silverstone WSPC round in May. Future Ferrari Formula 1 technical director Ross Brawn had joined the design team the previous autumn. His main focus was on TWR’s design for the forthcoming 3.5-litre Group C rulebook, the car that would become the XJR-14 of 1991, but he also put his stamp on the ‘11’. The introduction of what was essentially a widetrack version of the car coincided with the arrival of new Bosch engine electronics and carbon brakes for the first time. The upgrade package resulted in a major step forward for the XJR-11. The car scored its first - and only victory - at Silverstone in the hands of Martin Brundle and Alain Ferte. There was an element of good fortune to their win from second on the grid because one of the new Mercedes-Benz C11s had been excluded before the race for receiving outside assistance during free practice and the second broke its engine while leading. Lammers and Andy Wallace came through to make it a Jaguar one-two in front of the flag-waving home crowd. If the turbo Jaguar was fortunate to win at Silverstone, it was unfortunate not to claim the victory laurels next time out at Spa. TWR was tactically superior to Sauber in Belgium, switching its cars over to slick tyres on a drying track long before its rivals. Brundle held a comfortable lead when he was forced to retire with a small fire, resulting from a fractured oil line. The second car shared by Lammers and Wallace came through to finish second, handicapped by an oiled screen that had resulted from following the sister car. The momentum looked to be moving in Jaguar’s favour, but the hope of spring dissipated when the WSPC resumed after Le Mans. The French enduro was not a round of the world championship in 1990, and Mercedes opted to miss it. While Jaguar focussed its resources on what turned out to be a successful assault on the big race with the V12engined XJR-12, Sauber was out testing with the all-carbon C11. Jaguar would notch up only two more podiums over the remainder of the season. It wasn’t quite the last appearance of the XJR-11, however. The car raced on in the All-Japan Sports-Prototype Championship under the Suntec banner in 1991. JAGUAR XJR-11 #289 TWR Jaguar built just three XJR-11s and chassis #289 saw service right through the team’s season and-a-half campaign with the turbo ‘Tomcat’. The car was on the grid when the ‘11’ made its debut at Brands Hatch in July 1989 and was still racing at the last hurrah for the design in October ‘90 in Mexico City. Chassis #289 notched up its first points with a fifth-place finish at the Nurburgring in August with John Nielsen and Andy Wallace driving and claimed its best qualifying result of its debut season at Spa with third on the grid. Wallace and Jan Lammers, two thirds of Jaguar’s 1988 Le Manswinning line-up, were paired up in the #289 for the 1990 season. The car was renumbered as #590 in typical TWR fashion when the wide-track upgrades came on stream for Silverstone race. This XJR-11 again finished second at Spa, this time to the Mercedes-Benz C11 shared by Jochen Mass and Karl Wendlinger. There would be one more podium, at the season finale in Mexico City, after the car had been renumbered a second time as #1290 from the Nurburgring round in August. The car was subsequently retained as an unused spare for the TWR-run Suntec team in Japan. The XJR-11 is remembered fondly by Wallace, who was drove #289 in all but one of its 13 race appearances. “The car was actually a massive step forward on the V12 Jags,” recalls the Brit. “It was a great car, but it just happened to coincide with one of the greatest sportscars ever, the Mercedes C11. “There was less of a pendulum effect than with the V12s, because you didn’t have that big and heavy engine trying to come around on you all the time, but it was spectacular in its own way with all the power. “If you wound the boost up you couldn’t use all the power; you’d be traction limited coming out of the corners. So there was a button on the steering wheel that gave you another 200bhp that you could press once you’d got everything straight as you powered onto the straight.” Wallace remembers his last race in the XJR-11 with a hint of sadness. “The Group C fuel-formula was a special era of sportscar racing and it was sad to know it was coming to an end,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to get out of the car at the end.”