Busy on the weekend of 12-13 June? You may be now. Jaguar is going back to Le Mans. If like me you’re old enough to remember the Silk Cut Jags tearing up the tarmac back in the days of Group C, news rarely comes better than this.
Yes it will be just a single car and, no, it won’t be competing for outright honours and it’s not even a British let alone a works entry, but do not let that deter you. Here’s why: the car is being entered by American racer Paul Gentilozzi whose team has raced Jaguar XKRs in every Trans-Am championship held from 2003 to date and won every one of them. Moreover he has already signed former Indycar winner Scott Pruett to drive and former F3000 and Le Mans veteran Marc Goossens. This is not a bunch of no-hope dreamers, but one very well financed, professional and prepared team.
History is also starting to repeat itself. The last time Jaguar had been away from Le Mans for too long was in the mid 1980s when an American privateer with a highly successful race team decided to enter the race to compete for class honours. And although Bob Tullius’s Group 44 Jaguar XJR-5 failed to realise its full potential, it certainly did enough to gain the undivided attention of Jaguar in the UK. Within two years Jaguar had commissioned Tom Walkinshaw to design, build and race its own car and the rest, including Jaguar’s two most recent Le Mans wins, is history.
Who should fill the third seat in the car? Clearly he needs to be British, super quick, and with Le Mans winning pedigree, ideally in a Jaguar. Both Andy Wallace and Martin Brundle qualify but so too does none other than David Coulthard. It is a fact remembered by too few that back in 1993 DC shared an XJ220 with David Brabham and John Nielsen, winning their class before being excluded for a technical infringement long after the race was over. He has unfinished business in France.
Then again they could put Donald Duck behind the wheel and I’d cross the channel to see it. If you were lucky enough to witness what a Le Mans crowd does when it sees a Jaguar in the pit-lane, you will too.