1999 Sportscar Racing Results and Review

1999 was a season of consolidation and rebuilding.

ISRS Field
Photo : Courtesy ISRS

The FIA's attempts to merge the ISRS with the GT1 category from the GT series (in the form of the IPC), thankfully, failed and the FIA series fell back on a solely GT2 series. This, unsurprisingly led to another season of Oreca Viper dominance as Porsche failed to get their new 911 homologated for GT2, Marcos fell foul of the rules when it relocated its LM600s gearbox to the rear of the car and Lister made only sporadic outings into Europe.

Lister GT1 at play
Photo : Courtesy Sportscar World

The Lister team always ran competitively when they were out, but were never able to better the Oreca team's combination of outright pace and honed, professional team work. There were a number of competitive ex-Oreca Vipers out, mainly in the hands of long time sportscar racing team (and one time C2 champion, I think), Chamberlain, and newcomers Paul Belmondo racing. With talented young drivers the Belmondo cars were usually swifter and even managed to break the Oreca stranglehold once, whereas the Chamberlain cars had a mixture of good drivers and mixed quality rentadrivers, leaving them to pick up occasional podium placings.

Le Mans, as has become the norm, stood alone as, but licenced the Le Mans name to Don Panoz to expand his Petit Le Mans race into a series called the American Le Mans series.

BMW didn't start as Le Mans 24 Hour favourites, but came through a stiff battle to take the honours from favourites Toyota and Nissan and newcomers Audi.

Photo : Courtesy Sportscar World

Meanwhile, the Oreca Viper world GT domination party continued in France with the team taking their second GT Le Mans victory.

Oreca Viper
Photo : Courtesy ALMS Website

In the UK, the BRDC saw a last hurrah for the GT1s, with a McLaren F1, two Porsche 911 GT1s and a Lister Storm GTL, along with the Group C-like Sintura, battling for the overall race victories. However, with the category dead at World level and costs escalating, the BRDC took the bold step to switch their category to a GT2 led one in 2000, with a supporting category of N-GTs.

The Lister team finally took the honours, but not without a tough battle around the country, most notably with the Blue Coral G-Force Porsche team, but also with the Sintura team who wheeled their new, but ultimately extinct, car out a few times throughout the season, culminating in an overall win at Silverstone.

Sintura et al
Photo : Courtesy Sportscar World

In GT2, Lister were more dominant, with the Schirle/Warnock duo taking overall victory in the title, although the Porsche and Marcos marques managed to take victories in the class.

The French series continues to look good, although it is still Porsche dominated and it was good to see some British runners (notably Marcos Mantis Challenge teams) make the trip to race in the last round of the series at Le Mans. It would be good to see more Anglo-French meetings. - I said exactly that last year and see no reason to say anything new!

In Belgium, they continued their unique blend of GTs and modified Touring Cars, which produces great fields and well matched races with both GTs and tourers taking outright victories in races which included a 24 hour race.

Belcar Racing
Photo : Courtesy Belcar

The ISRS series took the step to become an FIA recognised series as the Sports Racing World Cup. This, perhaps surprisingly, didn't do any harm to the series, which attracted more and more competitors and, significantly, new manufacturers. Ferrari and Riley & Scott saw their former domination eroded by the arrival of the DAMS Lola, powered by a Judd V10 engine. This car was immediately fast and quickly reliable enough to take

Dams Lola
Photo : Courtesy ISRS

The story of 1999 Sportscar racing in the US was certainly the American Le Mans Series. The charismatic Don Panoz persuaded the ACO to let him run a series to Le Mans rules, and using the Le Mans moniker, in the US. More astonishing were suggestions that the series could be spread wider (to the Pacific Rim and Europe), although with two rounds in Europe in 2000, perhaps they weren't so silly...

What was less surprising, though, was the chance to build and race cars built to Le Mans rules in the valuable US market was a great draw for major manufacturers. BMW, Audi and Porsche all sent factory entries for one category or another (the former two for the top prototype class), whilst Don's Panoz cars lost their roof and became a front-engined thorn in the side of the big German manufacturers. Cadillac, remarkably, announced they would return to Le Mans in 2000, with a prototype powered by their Northstar engine and displayed a mock up at Le Mans.

Panoz Roadster
Photo : Courtesy ALMS Website

Panoz came close to taking the championship, but BMW, despite throwing away one of race victory (and almost losing another) in sight of the flag, managed to take the title.

In 2000, the series will be stronger than ever, with races at Silverstone and the Nurburgring as well as across the US.

Despite holding on to the Daytona 24 Hour, jewel in the crown of US GT racing, USSRC fell flat in the face of the ALMS cancelling three late season races and crowning veteran Elliot Forbes-Robinson champion after just 3 races. For 2000, the series is to be rebranded as the Grand Am series, with the Daytona 24 hours forming the opening round of this and the SRWC. Things can only be better than in 1999.

For 2000, the FIA GT series has switched to the same GT2/N-GT split as the British series with manufacturer's teams strictly forbidden. As I'm late in getting this review together, I can say (with the benefit of hindsight!) that, although Lister are leading at the moment, the mix works well, with Vipers and Listers getting race victories. In the second category, the Porsche 996 is the dominant player, but as always with these cars there are lots of teams running competitively.

Overall, 2000 is looking healthy. The big manufacturers have gone from the FIA GT series and the fields are large and contain a number of cars capable of battling for race wins. The N-GT category has already proved a source of great racing and more manufacturers can only be hoped for to prevent it turning into a Ferrari only category.

In the US, the big marques are present, but the Le Mans rules suggest that the fields will stay full, even if manufacturers leave in a year or two. Equally, the SRWC looks better and better, with manufacturers sending cars (DAMS are running a Cadillac), but the rules permitting even the ageing Ferraris and Riley and Scotts to take race wins.

Perhaps most interesting, after years of conventional wisdom dictating that only mid-engined cars made 'proper racing cars', the ALMS, SRWC and FIA and BRDC GT series all have regular (or potential) race winners, with the GT category now dominated by Listers and Vipers. With Ferrari running a 550 Maranello and Marcos their LM600, things have not looked this good for front-engined racecars for 50 years....

The calendars on this page are :-

ISRS Series
American Le Mans Series
USRRC Championship
French GT Championship
BELCAR Championship

BRDC GT Series

DateVenue Results
28 MarchSilverstoneGT1 - O'Rourke/Sugden - McLaren F1 GTR
GT2 - Saunders/Day - Porsche GT2
3 MayOulton ParkGT1 - Bailey/Campbell-Waters - Lister Storm GTL
GT2 - Cooke/Lockie - Porsche GT2
31 MaySnettertonGT1 - Bailey/Campbell-Walter - Lister Storm GTL
GT2 - Cook/Lockie - Porsche 911 GT2
20 JuneBrands HatchGT1 - Bailey/Campbell-Walter - Lister Storm GTL
GT2 - Warnock/Schirle - Lister Storm
11 JulySilverstone GP SupportGT1 - Lister/Wallinder - Porsche 911 GT1
GT2 - Warnock/Schirle - Lister Storm
7/8 AugustDonington Park - Two RacesGT1 - Bailey/Campbell-Walter - Lister Storm GTL
GT2 - Warnock/Schirle - Lister Storm (Result same in both races)
21 AugustSilverstoneGT1 - Dean/Luby - Sintura S99
GT2 - Warnock/Schirle - Lister Storm
5 SeptemberCroftGT1 - Bailey/Campbell-Walter - Lister Storm GTL
GT2 - Youles/Astley - Lotus Esprit
26 SeptemberSpa-FrancorchampsGT1 - Bailey/Campbell-Walter - Lister Storm GTL
GT2 -Lockie/Euser - Marcos LM600 Evo
10 OctoberSilverstoneGT1 - Lister/Wallinder - Porsche 911 GT1
GT2 -Hewland/Thyrring - Lister Storm

FIA GT Series

April 4MonzaBeretta/Wendlinger - Chrysler Viper
May 9SilverstoneBeretta/Wendlinger - Chrysler Viper
June 13-14Le Mans 24 Hours, France - Non ChampionshipLMP - Winkelhock/Martini/Dalmas - BMW V12 LMR
GTS - Beretta/Wendlinger/Dupuy - Chysler Viper GTS-R
GT - Alzen/Huisman/Riccitelli - Porsche 996
June 27HockenheimBelloc/Dupuy - Chrysler Viper
July 4HugaroringBelloc/Dupuy - Chrysler Viper
July 18ZolderBeretta/Wendlinger - Chrysler Viper
August 8OscherslebenBeretta/Wendlinger - Chrysler Viper
September 5DonningtonBeretta/Wendlinger - Chrysler Viper
September 26Homestead, USABelmondo/Clerico - Chrysler Viper
October 3Watkins Glen, USABelloc/Donohue - Chrysler Viper
November 28Zuhai, ChinaBeretta/Wendlinger - Chrysler Viper

ISRS Series Dates

March 28BarcelonaCollard/Sospiri - Ferrari 333SP
April11 MonzaCollard/Sospiri - Ferrari 333SP
May 16SpaBaldi/Redon - Ferrari 333SP
July 4EnnaMoncini/Pescatori - Ferrari 333SP
July 18DoningtonGounon/Bernard - Lola B98/10 Judd
August 1BrnoGounon/Tinseau - Lola B98/10 Judd
September 5NurburgringGounon/Bernard - Lola B98/10 Judd
September 19Magny CoursLavaggi/Mazzacane - Ferrari 333SP
November 28/December 5KyalamiGounon/Bernard - Lola B98/10 Judd

American Le Mans Series Dates

March 20Sebring 12 hours, USAKristensen/Llheto/Muller - BMW V12 LMR
April 18Road Atlanta, USAvan de Poele/Schiattarella - Ferrari 333SP
June 27Mosport, USAMagnussen/O'Connell - Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S
July 25Sears Point, USALehto/Soper - BMW V12 LMR
August 1Portland, USABernard/Brabham - Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S
September 18Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, USABernard/Brabham - Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S
October 10Laguna Seca, USALehto/Soper - BMW V12 LMR
November 11San Diego, USALehto/Soper - BMW V12 LMR

USRRC Championship Dates

Jan 30-3137th Rolex 24 At DaytonaWSC & Overall - Wallace/Leitzinger/Forbes-Elliot - R&S Mk111
GT -
May 28-31Lime Rock Park (2 hours)Lienhard/Theys - Ferrari 333SP
June 4-6Mid-Ohio (2 hours)Weaver - Riley & Scott Mk3

French GT Series Dates

March 27/28Le Mans (Bugatti)R1 : Lagniez/Goueslard - Porsche 911 GT2 98
R2 : Belmondo/Gosselin - Chrysler Viper GTS-R 98
April 17/18LédenonR1 : Lagniez/Goueslard - Porsche 911 GT2 98
R2 : Jarier/Lafon - Porsche 911 GT2 98
May 22/24PauLarrousse/Depoix - Venturi 300 Atlantique
September 11/12Val de VienneR1 : Nourry/Herbert - Porsche 911 GT2 97
R2 : Guitteny/Jarier - Porsche 911 GT2 98
October 2/3NogaroR1 : Lagniez/Goueslard - Porsche 911 GT2 98
R2 : Lagniez/Goueslard - Porsche 911 GT2 98
October 16/17Magny-CoursR1 : Chateau/Kaufmann - Porsche 911 GT2
R2 : Clérico/Martinolle - Chrysler Viper GTS-R
October 30/31Paul Ricard 500 kmJarier/Lafon - Porsche 911 GT2 98

BELCAR Series Dates

April 17/18ZolderKumpen - Porsche 993
May 1/2Spa FrancorchampsVanierschot - Dauer Porsche
May 22-24ZandvoortVosse/Defournay - Chrysler Viper GTS
June 5/6Spa-FrancorchampsVosse - Chrysler Viper
July 17/18ZolderKumpen/Cohen - Porsche 993 Turbo
September 4/5ZolderHemroulleVerbergt/Tarrés - Audi A4 Quattro
September 25/26Spa-FrancorchampsKumpen/Cohen - Porsche 993 Turbo
October 16/17ZolderKumpen/Cohen - Porsche 993 Turbo

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