The disaster lurking behind Jaguar’s 1988 Le Mans win
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The disaster lurking behind Jaguar’s 1988 Le Mans win

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Jaguar claimed a first Le Mans 24 Hours win in 31 years with its 1988 triumph, but the manufacturer's flying formation finish was actually an emergency cover in case its lead car's gearbox failed - something that came perilously close to happening

One more gearchange, and Jaguar's comeback victory would have been derailed at the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours. The British manufacturer came that close to losing its first win in the French enduro since 1957 in the final hour. That the winning Tom Walkinshaw Racing Jaguar XJR-9LM lasted the course owed everything to the mechanical sympathies of lead driver Jan Lammers, and perhaps to some kind of sixth sense.

The Dutchman, who shared the victorious Jaguar with Andy Wallace and Johnny Dumfries, knew he had a gearbox problem as the 24 Hours drew to a close. He'd listened to team-mate Raul Boesel explain the demise of his own Jaguar in the small hours, as he tied his bootlaces before his stint in the penultimate hour. And when the symptoms described by the Brazilian appeared to be manifesting themselves right behind him, he took a bold decision that ultimately secured himself a place in the history books.

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