TIME MACHINE: 1987 - HAYWOOD CLAIMS FINAL RIVERSIDE WIN FONTANA, Calif. (March 30, 2005) --- As the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix of Endurance event weekend got underway it was believed that this event would be one of the last at Riverside ...
TIME MACHINE: 1987 - HAYWOOD CLAIMS FINAL RIVERSIDE WIN
FONTANA, Calif. (March 30, 2005) --- As the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix of Endurance event weekend got underway it was believed that this event would be one of the last at Riverside International Raceway. In fact, the April 26, 1987 event would be the final stop for the Camel GT's at the "Palace of Speed" before it closed its doors one year later.
Elliott Forbes-Robinson was fastest during qualifying with an event record speed of 130.535 mph. For the final event, the configuration of the course had changed to 2.54 miles as opposed to the 3.25 from prior events.
At the start of the race, Forbes-Robinson and co-driver Geoff Brabham were immediately challenged for the lead by the Corvette of Sarel van der Merwe and Dock Bundy as the two cars pulled away from the field. On lap 20, the pole sitter suffered a flat tire that sent his Nisan GTP ZX-T into the concrete wall just past the start-finish line. Shortly after, Bundy brought his machine into the pits with a broken turbocharger.
Chip Robinson and Al Holbert stood to benefit from the leaders misfortunes and they pulled ahead of other challengers. Among the challengers was Group 44, piloted by Hurley Haywood and John Morton, who were forced to drive the oldest Jaguar in their teams' stable after the primary car was wiped out during a test session the week of the Riverside event. Thanks to a series of flawless pit stops, the Jaguar was in second place.
On lap 92, the two cars made their final pit stops, which included driver changes. Robinson and Holbert gained a 29-second lead that looked unbeatable until a loss of nearly 500 rpms and tire problems darkened their day. They went into defense mode when the Jaguar finally pulled up behind them with just a handful of laps remaining.
With three laps to go in the 122-lap event, Morton pulled alongside Robinson as they entered turn nine and the cars ran side-by-side through the corner allowing Robinson to salvage his lead. One lap later at turn nine, Morton tried a different strategy. He hung back and used a surge of momentum to catapult past the leader as they exited the turn.
At the finish, Haywood/Morton led Holbert/Robinson across the finish line by 2.8 seconds. Darin Brassfield/Wally Dallenbach Jr came in third, followed closely by Rob Dyson and Price Cobb, in fourth, both one lap down. Fifth was Jim Adams and John Hotchkiss, three laps down.
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