Jaguar XJR8 – 1987 Spa 1000 km, Michael Turner, 1987
This is one of six paintings by artist Michael Turner in the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust’s Collection, and depicts the Jaguar XJR8 car number 6 – driven by Martin Brundle, Johnny Dumfries and Raul Boesel which won the 1987 Spa 1,000 km race.
It is being pursued by car 61, the Mercedes powered Sauber C9 of Kouros Racing Team, driven by Jean-Louis Schlesser and Mike Thackwell which had started in pole position. In the background is Jaguar XJR8 Car 5 driven by Jan Lammers and John Watson which finished 2nd.
The painting has Turner’s characteristic sense of speed about it, and gives a good impression of the Spa circuit which is set in Belgian forest and often has its own micro-climate producing more rain that most other circuits. Fortunately at this point the XJR8 is in the lead with relatively clear vision whereas the Sauber is having to battle on through a cloud of spray in the Jaguar’s wake.
The painting is currently on public display in the Collections Centre at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon.
Michael Turner was born in Harrow, Middlesex, in 1934. Raised in the suburbs of London during the Second World War, he was inspired by the exploits of the R.A.F. and developed an early talent for aircraft recognition, drawing aeroplanes in his school exercise books to the chagrin of his teachers. This enthusiasm for aviation found a parallel passion in the thrill of motor racing after a holiday visit to the Isle of Man in 1947, where he chanced to see the first post war revival of the British Empire Trophy Race. From that moment, with the indulgence of his parents until he reached driving age, he attended as many motor sport events as possible, including the first ever meetings at Silverstone and Goodwood and the Jersey Road Races.
After completing his formal education, he spent a year at Art College followed by two years National Service with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Three years in advertising studios in London provided valuable experience and in 1957 he went freelance. With a strong belief that there is no substitute for first hand involvement in order to portray such demanding subjects with authority and feeling, he travelled to the world’s major race tracks to satisfy his need for authenticity, and he continues to visit several Grand Prix each year.
His interest in aircraft led him to become a founder member of The Guild of Aviation Artists, of which he has twice been Chairman and subsequently President, and an Honorary Fellow of the Guild of Motoring Artists. His clients include many racing drivers, teams, sponsors, pilots, motor and aircraft manufacturers, R.A.F. and Army messes, museums and private collections worldwide. He held one man exhibitions in London, New York, Australia and the U.S.A., and participated in specialist shows in the U.K. and Europe. He had six books of his paintings published covering aircraft of the Royal Air Force and Luftwaffe, Formula One Motor Racing, Aviation Art, Monaco Grand Prix and Motor Sport Art.
The XJR8s were not owned by Jaguar, but by the Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) team and were sold off after the championship. Car 6, chassis 3-87 was bought by an ex-racing driver, collector who had previously competed against the TWR Jaguar XJRs at Le Mans in 1986, driving a Porsche 936C. Subsequent to the purchase, two test drives were conducted with TWR works team drivers, both Andy Wallace and Tom Walkinshaw himself handling the car at Dijon and at Silverstone.
After owning the car for over 20 years he had it re-commissioned to full running order by the experienced Swiss Group C technicians Marcus and Benjamin Hotz of HoragHotz Racing AG, Sulgen.
It was then consigned to be auctioned by Bonhams at the Goodwood Revival in September 2013. Although the sale price has not been published by Bonhams, the car is reported to have sold for just less than $1.4 million (USD) and is now in a private collection.
The Spa 1,000 km Race and the Championship
The 1,000 km race at Spa was the 9th round of the World Sports Prototype Championship and covers either 1,000 kms or 6 hours whichever is first, with the 1987 race held on 13 September 1987. The Jaguar pictured, car 6, driven by Martin Brundle, Johnny Dumfries and Raul Boesel, crossed the line first after the 6 hour limit at 6 hours and 16 seconds having covered 986.758 kms – 40 seconds ahead of the Jaguar Car #5 of Lammers and Watson in 2nd place.
The third Jaguar XJR8 driven by Eddie Cheever and John Nielsen finished 4th only ten seconds behind the Porsche 962C driven by Jochen Mass and Oscar Larrauri.
The Kouros Sauber car 61, pictured behind the XJR8, claimed fastest lap in the race and finished 7th.
The 1987 Championship was contested over ten rounds starting at Jarama in Spain in March and finishing at Fuji in Japan two weeks after the Spa race. Silk Cut Jaguar won 8 out of the 10 races that season securing the Team Championship and Raul Boesel won the driver’s championship having won 5 of the races and taking one 2nd and one 3rd place.