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World Sports Car 1991

Group C became very popular through the 80's and by 1989-90 it had reached its peak with door-banging racing, incredible aero effects and speeds over 400 km/h. It even rivaled F1 on the world stage.

 

But the FIA changed the rules, shifting away from fuel consumption, and focusing on expensive, F1 engines. On paper this would make the series appear more mature. In reality it was to stop Porsche's dominance and perhaps force manufacturers into Formula 1 as a more lucrative endeavor. It would make 1991 the beginning of the end for Group C. The new rules saw many manufacturers exit the championship. Porsche was only represented by privateers. Mazda and Nissan mostly just tested for their own local prototype championships. Mercedes actually had two different models: the old Sauber C11 and the new C291 because they didn't want to gamble with the new rules. Peugeot and Jaguar fully committed to the new regs and dueled hard through the entire season.

1991 was the transition year, allowing previous gen (C2) and next gen (C1 cars with weight and refueling rate penalties) to wage war with highly varied engine sizes and mix of turbocharged vs naturally aspirated. In the opening round at Suzuka, the Mercedes C11 took 2nd, beating out the brand new C291 which suffered an engine fire. Much of the season saw the newer cars dominate with pace but struggle with reliability. Every race became a question mark on who would see the podium. Even Mazda's iconic 787b which barely clung to top 10's through the season, stole victory at Le Mans: the first and only non-piston engine car to ever win the event. The combination of on-track speed, close battles and unpredictability made 1991 a bittersweet Group C finale.

 

By 1992, the new regulations were in full swing. Field sizes dropped due to budgets and by '93, the season was cancelled before the first race. Group C survived in IMSA's GTP and across Europe & Japan, eventually dying out in 1996. The WSC/SWC reformed as WEC in 2012, superseding ILMS.

 

1985-90 will be praised as the golden years of prototype racing, but 1991 is its true swan song.  Available in the Steam Workshop: Pending

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Jaguar XJR-14

The unassailable purple Silk Cut #3 and #4 took the 1991 Group C teams championships for the British powerhouse with Martin Brundle and Derek Warwick scoring several wins in the season. The beautiful car was designed by Ross Brawn and John Piper to run with the new, controversial regulations. Warwick commented that the car drove almost identically to an F1 car. Not surprising with its massive rear wing, aero elements and screaming 3.5L NA Ford HB V9 F1 powerplant which produced a detuned 11,500 rpm and 650 BHP. After taking a top performance in '91, Jaguar dropped out of Group C to focus on F1 (as others did) but the car was still used in IMSA for the '92 season where it broke the Grand Prix of Miami track record by 4 seconds. However, the suspension couldn't cope with the high G loads of US circuits and the XJR fell against Toyota and Nissan.

Originally made by Virtual LM, SGS rebuilt much of the car graphically and physically and gave it that original hardcore aero dominance that technical drivers could set up greatly to their advantage. Soft & hard Goodyears available.

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Mazda 787B

The iconic Mazda prototype was developed for the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, WSC/SWC 90-91 seasons and IMSA and is considered one of the most popular Group C cars ever. Building on the 767, the 787 was the most unique entry in motorsports of the era. Using the R26B 2.6L naturally aspirated rotary engine, it produced 700 HP with a 9000 RPM redline. It was also quite torque-y with the use of ECU-controlled variable length telescopic intake runners on the engine. It featured updated suspension geometry which allowed for larger wheels with carbon ceramic brakes, a first for a Mazda racing car. Competitive around the world, podium finishes were few and far between in SWC. That changed at the 1991 24h of Le Mans. Mazda entered 3 cars, one being the 55 covered in the wild orange and green Renown livery (a Japanese clothing brand that supported the team since '88). The day before the race, team manager, Ohashi, encouraged by previous stress testing, changed strategies, and told the 55 drivers to run "as if it were a short sprint race". It paid off, getting Volker Weidler, Johnny Herbert, and Bertrand Gachot to their only victory and the other two cars to top 10's as competitors fell to mechanical issues.  The Renown team set the event record of 362 laps & 3,932.2 km and being the only non-piston engine car to do so at Le Mans. The 55 was immediately retired from racing to be placed on display.

Developed initially by Mak Corp, the car was overhauled by SGS, making it competitive with the other cars by improving tire performance top line and balancing many other elements.  Features super soft and hard Dunlops.

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Nissan R90CK

The R90C was the Beast from the East, capturing the JSPC 3 times and several wins including the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1991.  It also took 2nd at the 24 Hours of Daytona that year.  Borrowing on the success of the RC89, little was changed other than small aero components.  However, the Japanese entrant was noticeably modified from the IMSA and WSC/SWC designs.  While Nissan pulled out of WSC after the 1990 season, it was still very competitive around the world.  The VRH35Z Twin Tubo MERD V8 served both the 89 and 90's versions.  It also managed to achieve the fastest straight-line speed at Le Mans after the installation of the chicanes.  This was thanks to a broken turbo wastegate that pushed the engine from 800 to well over 1100 HP.  Mark Blundell broke the lap record with a 3:27.020 and soared to 238 mph (383 km/h), snapping his head back with each upshift.  He took the pole by 6 seconds over the 2nd place qualifying Porsche 962, lamenting that he probably could have been faster.

Another Virtual LM original that was reshelled and the physics built from the ground-up.  The car is one of the fastest in the field but needs a conscious driver to save tires and manage fuel as the turbo is locked by Nissan thanks to Blundell.  Goodyear hards and softs available.

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Peugeot 905b

The French entry came on scene in the final rounds of the 1990 WSC season and would run through 1992. It housed a 3.5L NA V10 producing 715 HP and 12,500 RPM. Like Jaguar's XJR-14, the 905 was developed around the new "F1" rulesets. Peugeot and Jaguar arm wrestled for top honors at every race. The 905 took the win at Suzuka owing to mechanical failures by Jaguar. But they would struggle with their own problems under the hood, letting Jaguar slip ahead. With the 905b evolution, Peugeot tightened the points gap with crushing performances, only just letting Jaguar take the ‘91 title. In 1992, the team was untouchable (also owing to lack of competition). Peugeot won 9 of the 17 races it was in, including the 1993 Le Mans where it swept the podium and then retired into the sunset from sportscar racing...

The only team to run hard and soft Michelin compounds, the Peugeot has massive center downforce, good top end and fuel economy that the more skilled drivers and technicians can decipher for top level performances.  Originally released by Virtual LM and rebuilt by Storm Gang Simulation.

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Porsche 962C

Replacing the 956 to comply with IMSA GTP regs (the driver's feet were in front of the front axle), the 962 appeared in 1984. It was very successful among privateers and had one of the longest and most competitive careers in all of Group C. The car uses the 3L Type 935 KKK twin-turbo Flat 6 RMR layout although there were variations run throughout its lifetime to balance against regulations in both IMSA and WSC. In all 91 962s were produced from '84-91 with 16 official and the rest for customers. The 962C took the overall win at the 1986 and 1987 Le Mans and dozens of wins between IMSA, WSC and in Japan. In fact, its domination may have been part of the impetus for the FIA to change regulations in 1991. It was incredibly reliable and 5-time Le Mans winner, Derek Bell, remarked it "was really quite easy to drive".

Also a Mak Corp original, the car was heavily retuned to capture its ease of use and fuel efficiency if the operator is clever with the turbo.  Hard Yokohamas and hard+soft Goodyears are on option.

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Sauber C11

The old and reliable sister car to the new 3.5L C291. Mercedes fielded both cars together for the '91 season to hedge their bets against the new engine regulations. It paid off as the team struggled with mechanical problems on the new car. The C11 took 2nd place at the opening round, despite a massive weight penalty and slower refueling during stops. The 5L V8 twin-turbo was old but reliable, producing around 720 HP while remaining efficient. The aero forces of the car could generate almost 2700 kg of downforce at 320 km/h. The car dominated the '89 Le Mans race and helped Mercedes win the 1990 title. In 91, the team managed 3rd and was the lead car of the old regulations.

Originally made by Mak Corp, SGS let the C11 use the heavily boosted engine to dominate straights but drivers must be thoroughly focused through corners.  Soft and hard Goodyears available.

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