Home' Supercar Xtra : June July 2015 Issue 87 Contents 52
Flashback THE GROUP A ERA
im Richards showed his class as co-
driver to Peter Brock in the Group C
era, but really hit paydirt in Group A,
bagging his first driver’s title in the
category’s first season. By the end of
Group A, four of the eight titles run under its
regulations had J. Richards next to them. No
other driver enjoyed more title success. And
with his successes coming with two different
brands, he also experienced Group A’s variety.
Here are his thoughts on the era.
On his first Group A title with the BMW
635Csi in 1985...
“It was great that BMW could have some
success... Holden had success and the Falcon
had success. In this new era the Commodore
and Dick’s Mustang were competitive but the
BMW was the best car to have. It was mainly
because BMW had been running the car to
Group A regs in Europe for some time, so the
635Csi was race-proven.
“It probably wasn’t the very fastest acceler-
ating car, and it was a difficult car to get off
the line. But overall it was just a great package
and the beauty of it all was you’d drop to
maybe fourth or fifth and slowly but surely
fight your way through, which was more
fun than leading from the front and having
no-one to pass.”
On beating the Nissans to the 1987 title in
“In 1985 the championship was like, ‘We won,
but we were expected to win it’. In 1987 we
weren’t expected to win. Everyone thought
they had the better of us and we proved it
wasn’t the case.
“Initially we didn’t know how the M3 would
compare. It was a little four-cylinder engine,
so we were a little bit – not skeptical – but
anxious as to how it would go because we
were moving from a six-cylinder car to a four-
cylinder car. And, of course, everyone else
would be going quicker too.
“But our car didn’t use up its tyres, didn’t
use its brakes, it just kept going around and
around and around. It was great, when it
finally happened, to see we were competitive.
On some tracks we weren’t but that was the
beauty of Group A – some cars would be com-
petitive on some tracks and some cars would
be more competitive on others.”
On finding a whole new run of success with
“When I joined Nissan in 1989 the cars were
immediately brilliant. The HR31 Skyline was
like a faster M3, which enabled us to win the
championship in 1990.
“So the same thing happened then (as in
1987). On tight, short tracks we could beat
the Sierras because they were hard on their
tyres and we could keep going around and
“Of all the Group A cars, the HR31 was my
favourite of them all. The GT-Rs were terrific
but I had more fun driving the rear-wheel-
On the GT-R and the end of Group A...
“We immediately knew we had a car that was
as quick as anyone down the straight and had
more grip out of the corners, but they were
quite difficult to drive. 1990 and 1991, those
were the best years for those cars, I think we
won virtually every race in 1991.
“1992 was fantastic but they were harder
to drive because they put 100kg on them and
they had boost restrictions.
“I think the fact they stopped the class and
moved to V8 Supercars was probably the right
thing to do because you weren’t going to win
a championship without a GT-R.”
On why he still thinks Group A was great...
“I’m a fan of having different manufacturers
and all different shapes and sizes of cars and
“You might have a car that’s uncompeti-
tive on some tracks and ultra-competitive on
others, it keeps everyone in the hunt, it keeps
“And it was one race per meeting. You had
to be an endurance driver as well as a sprint
driver and drive 65 per cent of your laps as
fast as you could while keeping the car circu-
lating around. They were terrific days.”
“That was the beauty of Group A – some cars would be competitive
on some tracks and some cars would be more competitive on others.”
Richards leads former co-driver Peter Brock at Amaroo Park in 1991.
BMW M3 VERSUS
Scan to watch Jim Richards in
his BMW M3 battle Peter Brock’s
Commodore at Symmons Plains
Raceway in 1987.
V8X87 p50-57 GroupA.indd 52
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