#PurpleCat – The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14.

All Pictures © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.

Thanks to Stéphane Sasso for the pictures, Stéphan and Mike Kupka of MECauto and all the MECauto Boys’.

The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.

The World Sportscar Championship again ! Not the best era of sportscar racing as this championship thought to be the future of the Group C category only turned out to be the reason it disappeared. However, it was the turning point, sportscar racing completely changed when the WSC rules were introduced and the best of all examples arround is the mighty #PurpleCat known as the Jaguar XJR-14.

To fully understand it, you have to love sportscar racing and know about history. The XJR-14 was the replacement of the all-conquering Jaguar XJR-10, 11 and 12. And if you know about these cars, the XJR-12 was the old and trusted Le Mans design powered by a heavy and old naturally aspirated Jaguar 7000cc V12 which proved reliable and fast enough to win the 1990 Le Mans 24 Hours. The XJR-10 was to be the last true Group C car built for the championship in it’s original form 1990 and the XJR-11, the IMSA GTP version for America, but that is another story, let’s go back to that #PurpleCat.

Tom Walkinshaw Racing or TWR and known as “Jaguar Sports” were the man behind the XJR-14 as well as all the official Jaguar operations in sportscars except the Group 44 experience. The XJR-14 was the product of Technical Director Ross Brawn, Chief Designer John Piper and Head of Aerodynamics Mark Thomas all studying during 1990 with one idea in mind, mastering the new rulebook and they did ! Looking at the design, it was a whole new concept making the best out of the rules, interpretation was the word and let’s explain some.

The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.

The car had no doors, because the rules stated the size of the window and the size of the door but nothing did say that they had to be attached and that helped in designing a very strong, high-sided carbon monocoque, only the windows would open. Consequences were that the whole cooling system normally packaged at the front could also be moved to the side of the chassis and that permitted the use of the front of the car as a wing. However, to get the maximum airflow on that front wing, the interpretation of the rulebook went much further, the rules stipulated that when crash tested, the chassis could be cracked up to the pedal line but not further. That helped in having a very short nosebox. Another interesting feature of the car is the two-element rear wing which sits just behind the back bodywork and if you notice it, the lower plane acts as an extension of the diffuser.

The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.

Mechanically, the car was also completely new compared to the previous TWRs Jaguars, no V12, no Turbo V6, the engine would be a 3500cc Ford Cosworth HB V8, yes the same as in Formula One but tuned for endurance racing and capable of 650hp @ 11500rpm. That engine was matted to a 6-speed longitudinal TWR designed gearbox with a very special left-hand H-pattern gear change. That allowed the weight to be placed forward of the rear-axle centreline.

Suspension side, the front followed the established trend of upper and lower A-Arms with a pushrod to inboard tub mounted torsion bars and transverse damper, the rear featured upper and lower A-arms, pushrod to inboard, gearbox mounted, spring/damper. Brakes were conventional front and rear ventilated carbon brake discs. All that sat on Goodyear radial tyres with a non-assisted rack and pinion steering for a total weight of 750kg. #OhGod

The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.

At the end of the 1991, the XJR-14 had won the WSC tittle, TWR and Jaguar lost the backing of Silk Cut and that put an end to their WSC effort. They then turned to the American IMSA GTP championship with mixed results, the high downforce track of the American road racing scene would prove to be a difficult story, opposition was there and the lack of sufficient fundings for a development program as well as weaknesses in their parts proved to be too much and only finished 3rd in the IMSA Championship standings, their worst showing ever in the series…

The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.

Presented here is one of the three chassis ever build and the sole remaining in its original form, one having been destroyed in IMSA and the third one being the well known 1995 WSC Porsche. A testimony to the design is that it went on to win Le Mans twice as the TWR Porsche WSC-95. First thought as a new design by Tony Dowe and TWR America for Porsche to tackle the 1995 IMSA introduced World Sportscar Class but ruled out after a late rule change by the americans, it certainly was fast as it won Le Mans in 1996 and 1997.

Should “revolution” be the word for that car, I think so. When it first appeared in 1991 at Suzuka for the 1st round of the World Sportscar Championship, it was 2.5 second faster than the opposition and nothing would stop the #PurpleCat on it’s quest for the World Sportscar Championship title except Peugeot which in the second half of the season that year came up with an evolution of the 905 to beat the Jag’. It took them 6 month and hard development from it’s partners Esso and Michelin to catch the XJR-14 which had seen very little development as Tom Walkinshaw and Goodyear would hardly spend the money they didn’t have to.

The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.

Now in the hands of a well-known collector from Belgium and maintained by the highly skilled, successful and very well known MECauto team in the same country. Historic Formula One and Sportscars specialists, the Kupka brothers, Stéphan and Mike as well as their team looks all good and ready for 2015. I bet that understanding the car was no problem for them as they are used to other beautiful machinery such as as WSC Peugeot 905 or the Porsche 962 with which they won the 2014 Group C Racing championship, find out more about them on their website here.

The Jaguar XJR-14 which has already been taken back to the track in 2013 during the Silverstone Classic event in the hands of Nicolas Minassian looks set to tackle the Group C Racing series here in Europe this year and all the pictures were taken at Barcelona during the pre-season testing and the test was reported as successful. A fantastic car with a dedicated team ready to tackle the 2015 racing season with a lot of success and great pictures showcasing the raw speed of the car by Stéphane Sasso ! What else should we say ?! ..Ah yes, #OhYeah !

The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso - Sassography.
The 1991 WSC Jaguar XJR-14 © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.

The Dude.

 Thanks to Stéphane Sasso for the pictures, Stéphan and Mike Kupka of MECauto and all the MECauto Boys’.

All Pictures © Stéphane Sasso – Sassography.

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