Jaguar XJR12 - 1990

Cette collection est une adaptation de 24H Le Mans ® Le auto delle corsa più leggendaria al mondo Éditeur : Centauria Editore s.r.l. 


Jaguar TWR's reliable naturally-aspirated V12 engine, the absence of Sauber-Mercedes and the technical problems of Nissan and Porsche enabled the team to finish the 1990 Le Mans 24 Hours in first and second place, repeating the success of the XJR9 in 1988 with a car that was a straight follow-up to it.

The XJR 12 took part in the second free practice session of 1990, driving one of the two new chicanes on the Hunaudières straight. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

After five historic victories, three in succession, between 1951 and 1957, Jaguar was to wait 31 years for another podium finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its 1988 success came after a long period that began with the XJR5 in the early 1980s and culminated in the development of the first Group C, the XJR6, which evolved into the XJR8 and finally the victorious XJR9. With this car, they hoped to repeat their success of 1989, but were forced by the powerful Sauber-Mercedes C9 to improve further. Next came the new XJR10 and XJR11 with supercharged 3 and 3.5-litre engines, competing respectively in the IMSA championships in America and the Sport-Prototypes in Europe, but their V6s were too fragile for the marathons of Daytona and Le Mans, where the good old V12 derived from a 7-litre engine remained the best option.

For 1990, the XJR12 was based on the XJR9; two of the new cars were built on chassis from the previous series, including the one that was to win. The modifications did not alter the architecture of the car, which retained its basic dimensions, wheelbase, carbon structure and mechanicals, but its aerodynamics were refined to adapt it to the specific characteristics of the tracks in the two configurations, one of which was specific to the new Le Mans circuit. From the 1990 edition onwards, the FIA required the ACO to 'cut' the Hunaudières' very long straight with two chicanes in order to reduce the maximum speed and avoid a repeat of the serious accidents of previous years. These changes to the track gave Jaguar the advantage of eliminating its main rivals indirectly.

As a result, Sauber-Mercedes decided not to take part when the FIA excluded the Le Mans 24 Hours from the calendar of events qualifying for the World Sports Car Championship until the work on adapting the circuit had been completed. 

1. The V12 engine was derived from the block used in series production Jaguars, with the bore and stroke increased to 7 litres.

2. The XJR12's dimensions were largely unchanged from those of the XJR9. The front track was increased from 1,500 mm to 1,550 mm.  

3. The existing large slots on the sides of the XJR9 were replaced by two NACA air intakes.

© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

The other contenders gradually disappeared during the race due to technical problems or accidents (notably three of the very fast Nissan R90s that had dominated qualifying, including the No. 24 of Mark Blundell, Julian Bailey and Gianfranco Brancatelli, which started with the fastest time but was out of the race on lap 142). The Jaguar team still had to eliminate the Porsche 962 of the Swiss Brun team, which had set the second fastest time in qualifying.

But once again, fate was in the British team's favour: after a long battle with the No. 3 Jaguar, with around 15 minutes to go in the race, the German's engine failed and forced its driver to retire, allowing the British team to place two cars (Nos. 3 and 2) directly on the top steps of the podium. 

1. The body profile was refined compared to the XJR9 by eliminating the large air intakes in the passenger compartment and lowering the profile by almost 40 mm.

2. The fairing of the rear wheels was a feature of Jaguar prototypes, introduced on some versions of the XJR8 and subsequently carried forward.

3. The XJR12 with chassis no. 1090 was the same car that, like the XJR9 (chassis no. 288), won the 1988 24 Hours of Daytona, the 1989 360km of Tampa and claimed numerous second and third places in IMSA GTP events.

© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

The winning team consisted, apart from John Nielsen and Price Cobb, of the Chilean Eliseo Salazar (whose name appeared on the car), who had failed in qualifying and was soon sidelined. Through the first two-thirds of the race, the other two drivers alternated at the wheel, driving two or three consecutive laps. Team manager Tom Walkinshaw took Martin Brundle from the crew of the No. 1 car, which was forced to retire on lap 220, on the morning of the second day and entrusted him with the car most likely to win.

A. The No. 3 XJR12 driven by Nielsen, Cobb and Brundle during a pit stop on the night of 16-17 June 1990. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

B. Silk Cut, the cigarette brand renowned in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s, sponsored the Jaguar team in 1984, giving the XJR12 its white and purple livery. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

C. The new Le Mans circuit, with more bends and reduced maximum speeds, prompted Jaguar to opt for intermediate, but more comprehensive, aerodynamic equipment than in the previous year. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. 

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