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How a sportscar friendship prevailed over F1 rivalry

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Of far better significance to Marc Surer than the outcomes he achieved in his on-and-off partnership with Manfred Winkelhock between 1977 and 1985 is his friendship with the thrilling German driver. The late elder brother of the no much less flamboyant ‘Smokin’ Jo’ Winkelhock shared BMW, Ford and Porsche equipment with Surer in endurance racing, most notably beating the manufacturing unit groups with their privateer Kremer-run Porsche 956 on the shortened Monza World Endurance Championship spherical in 1985.

They had been additionally team-mates in European System Two, and rivals in System 1, however that reality made no distinction to their congenial relationship. The selection of Winkelhock, who died in 1985, as Surer’s favorite team-mate was subsequently by no means unsure for the Swiss.

Surer remembers “we turned buddies in a short time” after assembly once they joined the BMW Junior Crew in ’77 along with Eddie Cheever. Collectively, Surer and Winkelhock gained the two.0-litre class within the Nurburgring 1000km that shaped a part of the World Championship for Makes. Rising star Surer was then primarily based close to Stuttgart, close to the place Winkelhock grew up in Waiblingen, so that they socialised regularly. That continued when racing in opposition to one another in F1 from 1982 onwards.

“We went out within the evenings collectively, so we hung out privately and in addition on the observe typically we had dinner once we didn’t have an engagement with sponsors,” says Surer, who recognises that Winkelhock “was extra of a household man” following the beginning of son Markus in 1980. “However anyway,” he provides, “we had loads in widespread. We had loads of enjoyable.”

Each drivers had been thrust into F2 for 1978 with the works March-BMW staff. However in contrast to F3 graduate Surer, Winkelhock was new to single-seaters and didn’t get a second full season for 1979, when Surer gained the title earlier than making his F1 debut at Ensign.

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“He had no expertise in system automobiles and was all the time over-driving the automobile,” says Surer. However in touring automobiles they complemented one another properly. Winkelhock was “much less delicate for the set-up of the automobile, he might drive with the automobile which was not good” in a manner Surer says he struggled to do.

Surer (left) was by no means team-mates with Winkelhock in F1, however the two had been nice buddies from racing collectively in F2, touring automobiles and Group C

Picture by: Motorsport Images

“Even when I stated ‘come on, we’ve an excessive amount of oversteer, I can’t drive the automobile like this’, he’d exit and do the great time anyway,” Surer notes admiringly. “He was simply over-driving [around] issues which I typically couldn’t. He simply pressured the automobile by the corners.

“We might stay all the time with the identical set-up, we by no means had an issue to say ‘I can’t drive the way in which he desires it set-up’. We had been very related.”

Surer’s F1 profession had struggled for momentum after breaking each ankles working towards for the 1980 South African Grand Prix with ATS. He’d twice scored factors upon returning to Ensign for 1981, switched mid-year to Theodore, then landed at Arrows for 1982 when Winkelhock joined the grid at ATS. The identical 12 months, they collaborated on the Ford C100 programme within the WEC.

“Manfred had the concept and stated, ‘if we drive side-by-side, no one can overtake us’ and so we did!”
Marc Surer

The Zakspeed-run Fords had been regularly unreliable, retiring inside 4 laps of one another resulting from overheating points at Le Mans, however for the Manufacturers Hatch season finale they locked out the entrance row courtesy of well-timed laps in changeable situations. Surer nabbed pole on intermediate tyres within the automobile he shared with Klaus Ludwig, whereas Winkelhock was second on Goodyear’s qualifying slicks with Klaus Niedzwiedz. However their half in a race that’s remembered for Jacky Ickx’s storming drive to say the title turned out to be little greater than a footnote after “we touched barely” and Winkelhock was fired into the obstacles.

“All the time the driving force who did the very best time in apply was allowed to do the beginning,” remembers Surer. “Peter Ashcroft got here from Ford and he stated, ‘BBC is broadcasting the race stay on TV, are you able to attempt to come again as 1 and a pair of within the first lap? Are you able to agree collectively learn how to assist the opposite?’ And we stated, ‘Okay, with Manfred I do know it was no drawback in any respect’.

“It began to rain earlier than the race, and I stated, ‘what are we going to do? Within the rain it’s unpredictable’. After which Manfred had the concept and stated, ‘if we drive side-by-side, no one can overtake us’ and so we did!

“There was all the time one on the surface of the nook who had the higher line, as a result of on the within was extra slippery and tighter, so the one on the surface needed to elevate slightly bit to remain side-by-side and we each did. It labored so properly, we had been nonetheless main, so we did one other lap and one other lap and the rain acquired stronger and stronger…”

Surer and Winkelhock drove side-by-side in their Ford C100s for the early laps of the 1982 Brands Hatch 1000km before making contact

Surer and Winkelhock drove side-by-side of their Ford C100s for the early laps of the 1982 Manufacturers Hatch 1000km earlier than making contact

Picture by: Motorsport Images

However the Fords didn’t have all of it their very own manner, as Hans Caught within the Sauber-BMW loomed massive within the mirrors. Autosport’s Quentin Spurring wrote: “Caught’s progress continued, and by the fifth lap, he was up with the Fords, which got here out of Surtees facet by facet once more and set off that manner in the direction of Pilgrims Drop. Within the kink only a quick manner down the straight, Surer acquired his C100 out of practice, his automobile kissed Winkelhock’s, and Manfred instantly discovered himself on the grass and heading for the barrier.”

With out his dance accomplice, Surer couldn’t maintain off Caught, who took the lead beginning lap six. Amid worsening rain and with the guardrail broken, the race was stopped after 9 laps. Winkelhock transferred to the Surer/Ludwig automobile for the restart on a drying observe, however it was by no means the identical aggressive proposition as Surer spun at Paddock Bend, then misplaced three minutes within the pits to a misfire on the way in which to ending fifth.

“We touched due to aquaplaning,” says Surer. “It was actually troublesome to place the ability down in these situations and so it occurred. However there was no blaming one another.”

Extra from the favorite team-mate sequence:

They needed to wait till 1985 earlier than racing collectively once more as team-mates, however Surer reveals their collaboration had continued informally in F1, particularly throughout qualifying for the 1984 South African Grand Prix. ATS had BMW turbo energy from 1983, however Arrows remained a part of the dwindling group of groups utilizing the long-in-the-tooth Cosworth DFV properly into the subsequent season together with Tyrrell.

At Kyalami’s high-altitude, the normally-aspirated automobiles had been “so misplaced with out the turbo”, prompting Surer to hunt an out-of-the-box answer. He approached Winkelhock for a tow in qualifying, and the ATS man agreed.

“He stated, ‘you exit one lap after I do my quick lap, and when I’ve completed my quick lap, I do one further lap and offer you a tow,’” chuckles Surer. “And I used to be the quickest of those 4 drivers with [Tyrrell drivers Stefan] Bellof and [Martin] Brundle as a result of I acquired this tow from Manfred!”

Out of an F1 drive for 1985, Surer joined Winkelhock in a Kremer Racing 956 for that 12 months’s WEC. Second within the Mugello opener, they famously gained at Monza when a tree felled by galeforce winds blocked the observe earlier than the Lesmo prompted the race to be halted 34 laps from the top. The primary Group C win for Kremer was considerably lucky, as its automobile had been working out of sync resulting from an early second cease triggered by contact with Mauro Baldi’s Lancia.

Winkelhock agreed to give Surer a tow in qualifying for the 1984 South African Grand Prix, helping him to top the DFV brigade

Winkelhock agreed to provide Surer a tow in qualifying for the 1984 South African Grand Prix, serving to him to prime the DFV brigade

Picture by: Motorsport Images

“It was a gift,” admits Surer, who had been due his remaining cease shortly earlier than the stoppage. However he’s adamant “we might have had an opportunity additionally on the finish” had the race run to its conclusion. In mild of what occurred a number of months later, it stands as a bittersweet reminiscence.

Fourth at Silverstone, each Winkelhock and Surer missed Le Mans resulting from clashing F1 commitments in Montreal. Winkelhock had joined RAM, whereas Surer landed a drive at Brabham instead of the disappointing Francois Hesnault. Reunited at Hockenheim, their 956 suffered a gasoline leak that resulted in one other dramatic pit fireplace, mere hours after the works Porsche staff’s personal incident. However what adopted at Mosport was way more critical.

“We might stay all the time with the identical set-up, we by no means had an issue to say ‘I can’t drive the way in which he desires it set-up’. We had been very related”
Marc Surer

Winkelhock was gravely injured when a puncture prompted his automobile to depart the highway and crash closely on the quick downhill Flip 2 left-hander. Surer accompanied his co-driver to hospital in Toronto, however nothing might be executed. Winkelhock died of head accidents the next day. It was left to Surer to inform his spouse and supervisor of the unhappy information.

“Even now after I give it some thought, it’s horrible,” he says. However Surer has pleased reminiscences of Winkelhock, describing their friendship as “distinctive”.

“Perhaps there have been another drivers having that,” he provides, “however it was very uncommon. Even preventing one another, it was all the time with no drawback as a result of you may belief the opposite one.”

Victory together in their Kremer Porsche at Monza in 1985 is a bittersweet memory for Surer

Victory collectively of their Kremer Porsche at Monza in 1985 is a bittersweet reminiscence for Surer

Picture by: Motorsport Images

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