Sandown 1000kms 1984: Bellof on top down under
Sportscar racing’s brightest prospect, Stefan Bellof, finally secured the discipline’s biggest prize, the FIA Endurance Championship for drivers, with his sixth win of the 1984 season. The 27-year-old German guided the factory Rothmans Porsche 956 he shared with Briton Derek Bell to a three-lap victory at Sandown Park in Australia. Because Bellof had won races with different team-mates (four with Bell and one each with Hans Stuck and John Watson) he took the title by himself.
For the series’ maiden visit to the Melbourne venue in December ’84 – the first world championship event to be held in Australia – Bellof pulled out one of his trademark performances to take pole position for the six-hour race by the margin of seven tenths over the sister Rothmans Porsche of Jochen Mass. At the start, Bellof simply disappeared into a lead he would maintain until handing over to Bell. The only man who could deny Bellof the drivers’ title, fellow German Jochen Mass, slid off on the opening lap, meaning he and outgoing champion Jacky Ickx never got back on terms with the lead 956.
The race was marred by a numerous punctures for a large number of cars. Debris caused by the track surface breaking up played havoc with teams’ strategies. Indeed, the Ickx/Mass car suffered a larger number of ‘flats’ than the Bellof/Bell car, which didn’t help its cause. But the car that needed the most visits to the pits for new rubber was the GTI Engineering Porsche of Jan Lammers and Jonathan Palmer. Despite 12 pitstops, the British-run, Canon-sponsored car still managed to finish third.
The best all-Australian crew was the Colin Bond/Andrew Miedecke Porsche 962, which came home sixth. It was good news for local ace Neil Crang, however. He took his fifth Group C2 victory of the year, sharing the Tiga-Cosworth with Briton Gordon Spice and finishing 10th overall.
Sandown Park 1000kms-2 December 1984
(FIA World Endurance Championship, round 11)
1st: Stefan Bellof (D)/Derek Bell (GB)-Porsche 956 – 206 laps
2nd: Jacky Ickx (B)/Jochen Mass (D)-Porsche 956 – 203 laps
3rd: Jan Lammers (NL)/Jonathan Palmer (GB)-Porsche 956 – 202 laps
4th: George Fouché (ZA)/Sarel van der Merwe (ZA)-Porsche 956 -200 laps
5th: Rusty French (AUS)/Manfred Winkelhock (D)-Porsche 956 -200 laps
6th: Colin Bond (AUS)/Andrew Miedecke (AUS)-Porsche 962 – 198 laps