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  Jaguar XJR-12
 

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1990
Designed by:Tony Southgate for TWR
Predecessor:Jaguar XJR-9 LM
Successor:Jaguar XJR-14
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 27, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWith five victories in seven years Jaguar's reigned supreme at Le Mans in the 1950s, but rule changes left the highly successful D-Type obsolete after the 1957 season. Although the Works team would not field a racing car for many years, the racing department did develop the Lightweight competition version of the E-Type and the V12 engined XJ 13. After a heavy accident the XJ 13 project was halted, but the V12 engine was further developed and used in Jaguar's road cars. In the 1970s racing was left to privateers, although some did receive factory support through the proverbial backdoor.

In the early 1980s two of the most successful Jaguar privateers made plans to bring the marque back to Le Mans. Both Bob Tullius' US based Group 44 and Tom Walkinshaw's Britain based TWR had vast experience with the latest version of Jaguar's V12 and felt it could be a strong competitor in the newly created Group C class. This would mean taking on the mighty Porsches and that seemed virtually impossible without some structural factory support. Surprisingly this was granted to both teams with Group 44 continuing to focus on the American IMSA GTP Championship and TWR on the Group C World Championship. This strategy would give Jaguar two chances at Le Mans glory.

Group 44 had a clear head start as their mid-engined Jaguar XJR-5 was ready late in 1982. The car sported an aluminium monocoque and used the Jaguar V12 engine as a fully stressed member. The car was raced with considerable success in 1983, highlighted with a class win at Road Atlanta. With an eye at Le Mans, a computerized Fuel Injection system was developed over the winter to replace the Weber Carburettors previously used. The XJR-5 raced at Le Mans with factory backing in 1984 and 1985, with a class victory in the second year as a highlight. There was little chance of an overall victory, so Jaguar's focus was now turned to TWR's project.

Other than using a similar engine, TWR's XJR-6 had little in common with the 'American' XJR-5. Tony Southgate was responsible for the design and applied many lessons learned in the abandoned Ford C100 racer. He laid out a carbon fibre monocoque and a highly advanced aerodynamics package with very large ground effects tunnels. It was quite a departure from the norm and would form the mould of all subsequently designed Group C racers. In conjunction with Zytek, TWR developed a Fuel Injection system of their own for the V12 engine. Their goal was to draw as much power from the engine with enough efficiency to meet the strict Group C fuel restrictions. Displacing 6.2 litres, the Naturally Aspirated engine produced around 650 bhp in endurance trim.

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  Article Image gallery (53) Chassis (5) Specifications User Comments (1)