Wolfgang Kaufmann got behind the wheel of classic 1950s and 1960s Jaguars, with good results. After an absence of many years, Wolfgang Kaufmann made a return visit to the place of many successes of the past. Where the current sports prototypes compete for the “24 Heures du Mans” in June, an exclusive grid of classic racecars had the historic track to itself in July.
The cars were grouped into six “plateaus” according to their age, in two of these groups Kaufmann got to compete. Plateau 4 saw him in the Jaguar E-Type 3.8 litre FHC he was already familiar with after his strong performance with the powerful coupé at CER Dijon earlier in the year. The car he drove in plateau 2 was completely new to the professional sportscar driver – a 1953 Jaguar XK120. “Drum brakes all round, a giant steering wheel”, Kaufmann sums up his initial impression of the car, “completely different, but fascinating and fun to drive!” Both cars were shared by Siam Sassi and Alexis de Beaumont.
Three races were scheduled for every group, each running over 45 minutes, some in the middle of the night or in the early morning hours. A real challenge for every driver! The team left the qualifying sessions to pro driver Kaufmann who put both cars among the front runners of their respective groups. Sadly, this performance was not rewarded with the E-Type. As the car had been accepted into the event from the reserve list, therefore the team had to take the start from the back of the grid, in spite of an excellent qualifying result. But Kaufmann lived up to his nick name “Fighter”. He move through the pack and up the order was only stopped with four laps to go, by the Safety Car. Nevertheless, the E-Type was classified in 10th place among the GTS cars. Technical trouble had the team sit out race 2, so Kaufmann was on the attack again in the third race, again from the back of the grid. But his motto was “never give up, never surrender!” The man from Germany picked off competitor by competitor and steered the valuable coupé all the way to 5th position!
Kaufmann also started his races with the unfamiliar XK120. After the traditional Le Mans start (the drivers sprint across the main straight to their cars, jump in and fire the engines) he directly made up a number of places. Kaufmann relished the new challenge of the XK120, and put the Jaguar in the lead group before bringing it back to the pits for the driver change. His team mate Alexis de Beaumont took over for the second half of the race, and saw the chequered flag in 8th position in his class! The other races were driven by Siassi / de Beaumont, with Kaufmann concentrating on the E-Type.
“I have driven a few races at Le Mans, in the GT2 class and with prototypes; but this is also an amazing event”, Kaufmann sums up his impression of the Le Mans Classic, “it stands out among the great events of classic motorsport, as a completely different kind of racing!”
And the season continues in a classic vein, with the next assignment on July 19/20 in the Youngtimer Trophy at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, where Wolfgang Kaufmann will drive the Ford Escort Mk.I BDA.