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Nissan Mobil 500 Wellington 1989

Wellington Street Circuit, New Zealand

Date: 3/12/1989
Track length: 3.228/3.201 m
Attendance: unknown
Entries accepted: unknown
Starters: 29
Finishers: 14

Pole position: Brock in 1.30,46 = 127,39 kmh
Fastest lap: Win Percy

Distance: 500 km
Average speed: unknown
Weather: Fine, cloudy and dry
Ruleset: Group A
Car info:  


This year there was an added problem: the circuit had been revised and last year's Nissan Mobil 500 winner Roberto Ravaglia wasn’t too impressed.
"Why do you make the changes?" he enquired of the organisers. "It was better before — a drivers' circuit." The changes were of necessity rather than by choice for the Wellington waterfront is in the first stage of a major redevelopment programme.
If Ravaglia found it less challenging, many others reckoned it was more than enough, thank you. And for spectators in the grandstand and Kiwi Lager-swilling guests in the hospitality boxes, there was one decided improvement: a bump right on the apex at the entry to the start straight. It had cars shaking their heads and threatening to fly into the concrete wall at the exit. "The worst part," commented Brett Riley, one time British F3 race winner, "is trying to remember whether the next corner’s a left or a right."
Friday night was purely for exploring the new layout and for blowing away the dust (from a construction site in the middle of the circuit) which coated the track. Peter Brock, twice a Wellington winner, soon settled down to a respectable lap time of 1.34,1. Ominous forecasts of gale force winds and rain saw everyone intent on making the most of the fine weather on Saturday morning when Brock was once again fastest in his Mobil Sierra. He was chased by Tony Longhurst in the Benson & Hedges Ford and Dick Johnson's Shell Ultra RS 500. Brock set a best of 1.31,39 and he did not have to worry about a challenge to his pole until the closing minutes of the second session, when Jim Richards in a Nissan (and then Dick Johnson) went slightly faster. ‘Peter Perfect’ peeled out of the pit lane and went for it - with Longhurst latching onto his bumper on his flier. The result was that both ended up on the front row: the Brock/Paul Radisich at 1.30,46; the Longhurst/ Neville Crichton at 1.30,71. The Johnson/John Bowe Sierra wound up third from the Richards/Mark Skaife Nissan and the second Mobil Sierra of Brad Jones/Tony Noske. The best of the BMWs were, as expected, the two Schnitzer M3s driven by Ravaglia/Emanuele Pirro and Steve Soper/Fabien Giroix. These were seventh and ninth, sandwiching the Mark Petch Sierra of Gianfranco Brancatelli/Robbie Francevic.

Sunday afternoon featured one of Wellington’s gales but, happily, not the rain that had been predicted and, despite the winds, Wellington had probably the largest crowd in the five-year history of the Nissan Mobil 500. It was no great surprise that the Ford Sierras took off, Longhurst getting the jump on Brock from the (slow) rolling start — a local speciality. It was Brancatelli, from eighth, who made the best getaway in his Peanut Slab Sierra. Brancatelli was the sensation of the early laps and by lap 12 the little Italian had taken the lead. Brock’s bid for a third victory was looking sick. Brockie had woken up him to hand over to his co-driver Paul Radisich. Others too were falling by the wayside: the Denny Hulme/Brett Riley M3 breaking its gearbox after just a few laps and the Richards/Mark Skaife Nissan blowing a turbo a lap later. Brancatelli’s moment of glory was, however, not to last long. As the Italian tried to lap the Holden of Chris Lambden, the two collided. The Ford hit a wall and arrived back in the pits with a damaged front end, spewing oil and water. The enraged Brancatelli drove down the pit lane to pull up alongside Lambden’s battered car, driving over wheel-changing gear as he did so. Fist-waving and shouting ensued to be followed later by a US$ 1000 fine for Brancatelli from the stewards for "driving behaviour in the pit area". Branca’s misfortune had returned Longhurst to the lead, but things were close with Fury, Johnson and Pirro all within a matter of seconds. This created some interesting moments, including one when, encountering a slow Ford Mustang, Johnson went to the left and Fury to the right. George won and towards the end of the first hour he took his Nissan into the lead, with Pirro also pushing his BMW past Longhurst’s fading Sierra. Then out came a pace car, brought on by a Commodore halted out on the track. This robbed Fury of the lead he had opened up on Pirro and meant that after the scheduled pit stop co-driver Win Percy had to rejoin in fourth place. The lead now belonged to last year’s winner - the lead Schnitzer BMW. Percy charged back, setting the fastest lap of the race, but by now Pirro and third-placed Fabien Giroix (in the second Schnitzer BMW - misfiring badly) had both pitted and the lead belonged to one of the hot pre-race favourites, the Shell Sierra, now being driven by John Bowe. It did not last long. After 2:35 of racing, Soper, who was in for Giroix, shunted Andrew Maher’s Toyota Corolla into a wall. At the restart Percy outjumped Bowe to grab the lead. Two laps later there was another pace-car when the BMW M3 of John Sax/Kayne Scott smashed into a wall. This time the pace-car did not work as it should have done. Percy was waved through by the pace-car driver. Nissan boss Fred Gibson and Schnitzer’s Charly Lamm took less than no time to engage in animated conversation with the Clerk of the Course. The pace car overtook Percy again - the problem was solved. At the restart Percy again took off from Bowe with Ravaglia and Soper in third and fourth. It was only 20 minutes before there was another crash as Bowe sent the second Toyota Corolla into a wall! "I think he was asking me to move over," said driver Hiro Kawai. Bowe later apologised for the way he had "asked". Percy now established a 30-second lead, despite having a broken gear stick which meant that his driving glove had been worn through. The lap he was due in, the Nissan crashed! "The throttle caught on the stop," said a dejected Winston. "You don’t get a second chance here." Percy’s exit left Ravaglia in the lead, but with the good news for BMW came the bad: the accident scrambled the pace car and this brought the Johnson/ Bowe Ford right up to the BMW, having been 70 seconds behind. At the restart Johnson booted it and was away into the lead. Soper kept things from getting boring having his annual spin at the northern hairpin, but the Shell Sierra scurried away. And then the Ford coasted to a halt — its engine management system dead. From that point, the entire 24 minutes to the chequered flag was absolutely uneventful as the Schnitzer boys came home 1-2. Pirro was still very sore after his accident at Macau the previous weekend, but he and Ravaglia had survived high winds, misfires, the turbocharged opposition which ran off into the distance, and unfortunate pace car interventions. "Charly can’t stop laughing," said Soper later. "It is unbelievable."

Division 1, 2 and 3
Pos Pos in class # Team / Entrant
Car- Engine
Drivers, Nationality Engine
vol. (cc)
Group Distance,
Qualifying position Qualifying time Fastest lap Reason out,
1 1 1 Sony Schnitzer
BMW M3 Evo
Roberto Ravaglia, I
Emanuele Pirro, I
2332 L4 Div. 2 142 laps, 4:00.36,16 7 1.32,05    
2 2 10 Sony Schnitzer
BMW M3 Evo
Steve Soper, GB
Fabien Giroix, F
2332 L4 Div. 2 4:01.15,00 9 1.32,40    
3 1 25 Benson & Hedges Racing
Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth
Tony Longhurst, AUS
Neville Crichton, NZ
1993 tc L4 Div. 3 140 2 1.30,71    
4 2 05 Mobil 1 Racing
Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth
Peter Brock, AUS
Paul Radisich, NZ
1993 tc L4 Div. 3 137 1 1.30,46    
5 3   Andersson/Rex Rotary
Per-Gunnar "Peggen" Andersson, S
Nettan Lindgren, S
Gary Croft, NZ
2332 L4 Div. 2 135 10 1.33,54    
6 3 8 Bagnall/Budget
Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth
Andrew Bagnall, NZ
Andrew Miedecke, AUS
1993 tc L4 Div. 3 132 11 1.34,28    
7 4   MW Racing
Holden VL SS Commodore
Warren McKellar, NZ
Allan Prince, NZ
4980 V8 Div. 3 131 18 1.41,17    
8 1   Racing Project Bandoh
Toyota Corolla
Keiichi Tsuchiya, J
Hiroyuki Kawai, J
Tatsuhiko Seki, J
1587 L4 Div. 1 129 17 1.40,28    
9 5   Ray Gulson
BMW 635 CSi
Ray Gulson, AUS
James McAlpine, GB
3475 L6 Div. 3 127 23 1.43,52    
10 6    
Holden VL SS Commodore
John Billington, NZ
Wayne Huxford, NZ
4980 V8 Div. 3 127 14 1.39,19    
11 2    
Toyota Corolla
Steve Willy, NZ
Grant Liston, NZ
1587 L4 Div. 1 127 24 1.45,82    
12 3    
Toyota Corolla
Dave Barrow, NZ
Tony Oliver, NZ
1587 L4 Div. 1 127 25 1.45,83    
13 4    
Toyota Corolla FX-GT AE82
David Sala, AUS
Steve Swaine, AUS
Richard Vorst, AUS
1587 L4 Div. 1 122 27 1.48,05    
14 4    
John Sax, NZ
Kayne Scott, NZ
2332 L4 Div. 2 102 20 1.41,83    
DNF   27 Mark Petch/Whittakers Peanut Slab
Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth
Gianfranco Brancatelli, I
Robbie Francevic, NZ
1993 tc L4 Div. 3 20 8 1.32,10   Accident
DNF   2 Nissan Motorsport
Nissan Skyline GTS-R Turbo HR31
Jim Richards, NZ
Mark Skaife, AUS
2029 tc L6 Div. 3 13 4 1.31,34   Turbo
DNF   105 Mobil 1 Racing
Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth
Brad Jones, AUS
Tony Noske, AUS
1993 tc L4 Div. 3   5     Alternator
DNF   3 Nissan Motorsport
Nissan Skyline GTS-R Turbo HR31
George Fury, AUS
Win Percy, GB
2029 tc L6 Div. 3 113 6 1.31,95   Throttle
DNF   23 Beaurepaires
Holden VL SS Commodore
Chris Lambden, AUS
Gerald Kay, AUS
4980 V8 Div. 3 127 14 1.39,19   Accident
DNF   17 Shell Ultra Hi Tech Racing Team
Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth
Dick Johnson, AUS
John Bowe, AUS
1993 tc L4 Div. 3 126 3 1.31,30   Battery
DNF     Sommariva Concrete
BMW 635 CSi
Joe Sommariva, AUS
Darrel Belsky, AUS
3475 L6 Div. 3          
Holden VL SS Commodore
Glenn McIntyre, NZ
Tony Mulvihill, AUS
4980 V8 Div. 3          
Ford Mustang
Bruce Flemming
David Slater, NZ
5000? V8 Div. 3          
DNF     Bill Bryce Racing
BMW M3 Evo
Brett Riley, NZ
Denny Hulme, NZ
2332 L4 Div. 2 12 12 1.34,92   Gearbox
DNF     Racing Project Bandoh
Toyota Corolla
Bryan Bate, NZ
Andrew Maher, NZ
1587 L4 Div. 1          
DNF   13 Bob Holden Motors
Toyota Corolla GT AE86
Bob Holden, AUS
Joe McAndrew, NZ
1587 L4 Div. 1          
DNF     Bob Holden Motors
Toyota Corolla GT AE86
Digby Paape, NZ
Jon Paape, NZ
1587 L4 Div. 1          
Toyota Corolla
John Debenardo
David Glasson, NZ
1587 L4 Div. 1