During the haydays of the GROUP C and IMSA period, the British manufacturer Spice Engineering authored a true success story by marketingt dozens of cars that managed to attain the highest level (several World Championship titles), both in Europe and in the USA.
Ascott Collection is proud to offer for sale a worthy representative of the Spice Engineering brand, the SE90C-022, that was entered for the Sports Car World Championship in 1991 (in the Group C category).
The Spice SE90 was designed by Graham Humphrey for the Sports Cars World Championship, and more particularly for the 1990 season. Like previous versions produced by Spice Engineering, the SE90 was offered to customer teams in two distinct versions: the SE90C, designed to meet the Sports Cars World Championship C1 and C2 rules, or the SE90P, designed for the IMSA Championship and the GTP and GTP Light categories. The SE90 was one of the most successful and most striking cars of the Spice saga, with its different versions winning several championships.
The 022 chassis is a version of the SE90C, which began its career… in 1991! A large number of private teams opted to maintain the solid foundations of the SE90, at a time when the world of endurance racing was going through a major transitional period. This was the case with the Euro Racing team, which entered it for the Sports Cars World Championship, and in particular for the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours race. While racing under Dutch colours (hence the flag by way of decoration), the team received financial support from Japan, with the Osu Wada brand of jeans. In 1991, Euro Racing had a “semi-official” Spice team status: Jeff Hazell, Spice’s Director, was involved and present alongside both Mike Franklin, Euro Racing’s team-manager, and regular drivers Charles Zwolsman and Cor Euser. As proof that this Euro Racing team SE90C enjoyed a special status, it was equipped with the latest developments from Spice’s engineer Graham Humfrys, who had designed all the manufacturer’s models since the SE86C.
In the first race at Suzuka, the Spice SE90C-022 immediately made its mark. A Peugeot 905 won the first race to be organized under the new regulations (which aimed to progressively replace turbocharged engines with atmospheric engines). But behind the winning “Lion” came the “turbos”: a Mercedes C11 turbo and a Porsche 962C-K (for Kremer). In fourth place, beaten by just one-tenth of a second for the third place on the podium, the Spice SE90C-022 was the best-ranked of the atmospheric cars behind the legendary 905. A first feat.
Another was to follow in the next round at Monza. Two XJR-14s, the famous Formula 1s with bodywork designed by Ross Brawn finished in the top spots, followed by a Mercedes C11… and the Spice SE90C-022! At Silverstone, at the third championship event, the the Spice’s engine worked wonders on a fast, selective track. The Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3500 cc once again went the distance, and Euro Racing’s fifth place had a taste of victory. The Spice’s best lap – 1’36”958 – was very close to the Alliot / Baldi Peugeot 905’s 1’36”594. The Spice crossed the line ahead of the French car. Simply impressive.
Spice was to have its first setback at the Le Mans 24 Hours. In spite of a promising 15th-best time in practice, the 022 chassis went no further than hour six in the race itself. Starting from the third position (because the first 10 lines on the grid were reserved for cars with 3.5 litre atmospheric engines), the car was forced to retire with a broken engine that put an end to this great adventure after 72 laps. Charles Zwolsman and Cor Euser, teamed up for the occasion with the Englishman Tim Harvey, were among the first to give up the fight, in an edition that will remain in the record-books for the very low number of competitors that actually finished: 12. And the twelfth place went to a SE90C entered by Euro Racing together with the Japanese team Team Fedco, on their come-back. The latter car won the C1 category, in which it was the sole survivor after 24 hours racing… – a “sister” of the 022 chassis, proof that this car was cut out for endurance racing, crowned as it was with success.
After the Le Mans 24 Hours race, the Euro Racing team would no longer compete with the 022 chassis, changing instead to the 020. A short career, with performances that were far from ridiculous against the “big” Jaguars, Mercedes and Peugeots.
The SE90C-022 is in very good condition. It needs some reconditioning (a crack-test, a fuel tank change and an engine + gearbox overhaul), as for all Group C cars that aim to find their way back onto the track.
It is particularly well preserved, and retains its full potential as a front-runner at the Le Mans Classic and the Group C series, to offer its future owner huge driving pleasure thanks to a level of accessibility whose reputation no longer needs demonstrating.
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