How Nis­san threw it away

Motor Sport News - - Monsters: Blundell’s Lap -

While Nis­san took the plau­dits in qual­i­fy­ing, Jaguar se­cured the lau­rels on what ul­ti­mately be­came one of the big­gest fail­ures for the Ja­panese brand.

Nis­san en­tered no less than seven cars into the 1990 Le Mans 24 Hours, spread across five teams, but all but one of them hit trou­ble. The win was lost due to an is­sue that was known by half of the teams pre-race, but not com­mu­ni­cated to any of the oth­ers.

The pole-sit­ting car of Mark Blun­dell, Ju­lian Bai­ley and Gian­franco Bran­catelli picked up frontal dam­age af­ter a prang with Aguri Suzuki’s Toy­ota be­fore re­tir­ing in the early hours of the morn­ing with a ter­mi­nal en­gine prob­lem. A cock­tail of en­gine and elec­tri­cal is­sues blighted the rest of the en­try.

That left the Nis­san Per­for­mance en­try of Derek Daly, Ge­off Brab­ham and Chip Robin­son as the lead­ing en­try, head­ing the timesheets for three hours be­fore dark.

The Nis­san was able to match the pace of the TWR Jaguar XJR-12 crewed by Martin Brun­dle, Price Cobb and John Nielsen, but cru­cially was ca­pa­ble of us­ing less fuel as the cars then had a to­tal of 2550 litres with which to com­plete the race.

Things were look­ing good for the fi­nal run-in on Sun­day morn­ing, when a fuel leak cur­tailed Nis­san’s hopes.

The leak was caused by low fuel slosh­ing around in the col­lec­tor within the tank and pulling the fit­tings away and caus­ing fuel to leak and pool in the pas­sen­ger side of the cock­pit. The fault had been caught by two of the squads be­fore the race, but not com­mu­ni­cated to Ray Mal­lock’s RML out­fit, which was run­ning the num­ber 83 R90CK.

It led to a late fuel tank change, and ended the car’s chal­lenge, leav­ing Jaguar un­ri­valled to take a one-two fin­ish.

Nis­san was left to rue its mis­take, with just a fifth-place fin­ish for the R90CP of Masahiro Hasemi/kazuyoshi Hoshino/toshio Suzuki as com­pen­sa­tion.

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