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Published on Jan 17, 2012
In the golden era of racing, Jaguar was a force to be sure, especially at the 24 Hours of Le Mans where the classic marquee won five times from 1951 to 1957. Not long after, the company disappeared from the Sarthe Circuit, not returning again until 1986 when the company unleashed its XJR-6, developed by TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) in the Group C category.
This machine was designed by famed Formula 1 designer Tony Southgate and powered by a naturally-aspirated V-12. Group C at the time allowed any engine format as long as it met fuel-efficiency requirements. While most teams opted to use smaller-displacement engines with turbocharged power, Jaguar decided to stick with its naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter V-12. Subsequently, the engine grew to 7.0 liters, which resulted in around 690 HP, and placed into a new car called the XJR-9.
The XJR-9 faced off with powerhouses such as Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche at the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans. The XJR-9 charged forward from the start, with Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace sharing the driving duties. At the end, it was the XJR-9 that took the checkered flag. It was a historic moment for Jaguar, who returned to glory at the famed French circuit after a long absence. It also marked the first time a normally-aspirated powerplant outdueled a field made up of turbocharged engines.
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