Motor Racing: Warwick's lament

Click to follow
The Independent Online
PEUGEOT manufactured an emphatic one-two finish to the fourth round of the World Sportscar Championship here yesterday but there was a hint of regret for their No 1 driver Derek Warwick, who was unable to maintain his grip on the race. Mauro Baldi and Philippe Alliot, two experienced former Grand Prix drivers, scored their first win of the season in the No 2 car, while Warwick finished second in partnership with Yannick Dalmas.

The result gives Peugeot a solid advantage in the constructors' championship, and Warwick and Dalmas still head the drivers' standings, but the Englishman, who has just missed out on the title twice before, was brief and to the point afterwards when he explained that team orders had dictated the closing stages of the 312.5 mile race.

Warwick shot away from pole position and immediately established a handy lead over Baldi and a commanding one over the rest of the field. But at the first pit-stop, for fuel, tyres and a change of driver, the No 1 car lost time and Alliot was able to move ahead of Dalmas. Despite Warwick's best efforts to regain the lead during his second stint, Baldi and Alliot kept their car in front to the finish.

'There was no problem with our car,' Warwick said. 'We had a problem with the balance early in the race from an adjustment we'd made in the warm-up, but we used different tyres and the car was fine.' But Warwick, who had been significantly quicker in qualifying, said he and Dalmas had received orders from the team to hold their position, and even though Baldi slowed down, the No 1 905 was not permitted to pass.

Warwick's fellow Briton, Geoff Lees, took third place with David Brabham in the surviving Toyota.

The World Sportscar Championship in its present truncated form has had to survive what was a winter of discontent, and it was not until last April that its short- term future was secured. But if a summit meeting held at Heathrow last week bears fruit, the series may regain its status in motor racing.

Twelve of the world's leading marques, including Jaguar, Mercedes and Porsche, met to discuss the possibility of a new category of sportscar racing which would effectively close the performance gap between the wealthy teams and privateers, and enhance competition.

WORLD SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP (Fourth round, Donington Park, 125 laps, 312.5 miles): 1 M Baldi (It) and P Alliot (Fr) Peugeot, 2hr 54min 03.868sec (108.335mph); 2 D Warwick (GB) and Y Dalmas (Fr) Peugeot, 2:54.04.444; 3 G Lees (GB) and D Brabham (Aus) Toyota, 2:54.32.016; 4 P Andrews (GB) and H Frentzen (Ger) Lola-Judd, 119 laps; 5 M Sala (Br) and A Caffi (It) Mazda, 112 laps; 6 F de Lesseps (Fr) and W Hoy (GB) Spice, 111 laps. Drivers' standings: 1= Dalmas, Warwick 70pts; 3= Lees, Alliot 32, Baldi 32.

HONDA has denied a report that it is to withdraw from Formula One racing next year, but the Japanese company has admitted that it is considering the move. A Japanese newspaper reported on Saturday that a recent business slump had made it difficult for the company to maintain the McLaren-Honda grand prix team.