The next race was to take place at Portland International Raceway. It was a relatively fast track which suited well the Nissan potential speed. Twenty eight cars were entered, and for the first time, two Nissan ZX T GTP were entered. Geoff Brabham drove his usual car while John Morton drove the second one. Facing two Jaguar XJR9s and six Porsche 962s, the two cars would carefully dominate the event. Bob Wollek, on ths Busby Racing Porsche 962, tried to counteact this domination, but it would be to no avail. The two Chevrolet Corvette GTPs were unable to raise higher than seventh and ninth. Two Spice Firebirds were not up to the task on such a track. In fact they would be out of the race very early in the race. The race proved to be a domination for the two Nissan ZX T GTPs, with Geoff Brabham leading teammate John Morton all the way. The two Jaguar XJR9s could manage to get past the best Porsche 962s, with Martin Brundle and John Nielsen ending up third just ahead of Jan Lammers and Davy Jones. Price Cobb and James Weaver were the best from the German contingent, in fifth place. The Lights class featured a big battle between the two Spice Fieros driven by Scott Schubot and Charles Morgan, with Tom Hessert slightly in arrears. Again, Charles Morgan claimed the victory, ahead of Scott Schubot and Tom Hessert. Jim Downing wound up another fourth place.
The next race was scheduled at Sears Point, a track which was utterly different from the Portland raceway. This course was not as well suited to the Nissan, who had to race hard to beat the Jaguar XJR9s. It would be a tough race. In fact, the last three races of the season were run on slow tracks, and it should revive some opponents' optimism. The Nissan was undoubtedly fast, and set up a new track record in 1m23s139. The two Jaguar XJR9s were next, with Martin Brundle and Jan Lammers, but the biggest surprise of the qualifying sessions was Bob Earl's fourth place in the Spice Firebird. James Weaver was next, leading Bob Wollek while Derek Bell had trouble keeping the pace. Running for the first time with a Porsche 962, Gianpiero Moretti was partnered by Scott Pruett on the former Brun Motorsport car. The Lights class was dominated by Dan Marvin, who drove the AC Delco Huffaker Spice Fiero. He edged in practice Scott Schubot and Charles Morgan, the usual class leaders. The weather would prove very kind to the Nissan boys, and Geoff Brabham's plans to run solo would not be a foolish thing. Geoff Brabham took the lead right from the start, and had a consistent lead over Martin Brundle, but the Englishman would then close in on the Nissan. They would both run nose-to-tail during twenty laps. Then on lap thirty two, while being held up in traffic, Martin Brundle smartly duck into a hole and took the lead. Then it seemed the Jaguar could easily get off the Nissan's claws, but Geoff Brabham had a plan. He was in the before the Jaguar and had a very fast refueling session. He would now charge hard against Martin Brundle. When the latter pitted, he was to hand the wneel to John Nielsen. That was what cost them the race. When the Jaguar was back Geoff Brabham was past the Jaguar. He finally won by a mere 2.8s.
Copyright Van Zannis
In the Lights class, Dan Marvin was no match for the opposition. Shattering the previous mark with a 1m30s467, he grasped the race from start to finish. Costas Los was second, while Charles Morgan, Skeeter McKitterick and Frank Everett were holding action a few seconds behind. While lapping everybody up to third placr, Skeeter McKitterick would retire after twenty two laps. Then it would be Costas Los who dropped a valve and Scott Schubot to experience a cockpit fire. Wnile he managed to go back to the track, he then was able to get past Don Bell, who had crawled into second place. Never to catch up Dan Marvin, he ended up second in class, just ahead of Don Bell. Charles Morgan was next in fourth place.
San Antonio was the next race, and it was a new street circuit. A mere twenty three car field was displayed to the spectators. The track was new to everybody so one could expect the race to be very disputed. The single Nissan ZX GTP T was driven by Geoff Brabham and John Morton. Once again, the Australian driver would stick the blue rocket on the pole. He was just ahead of the heavily modified Dyson Racing Porsche 962 driven by Price Cobb and James Weaver. Next were the first Jaguar XJR9 driven by John Nielsen and Andy Wallace, followed by the revived Chevrolet Corvette GTP driven by Sarel van der Merwe and Elliot Forbes Robinson, the Spice Firebird driven by Bob Earl and Jeff Kline and the Fabcar GTP driven by Tim McAdam and Chip Mead. The race appeared to be set for something unusual. The Lights class would feature a Spice quarrel between Charles Morgan and Dan Marvin-Bob Lobenberg. Again, the race was dominated by the Nissan. However, the attrition took its toll on the Japanese car, and Geoff Brabham and John Morton had to retire after 114 laps. This unusual fact ended up the eight win streak, which was unsurpassed until then, by the Electramotive car. Then it was all Dyson Racing, with Price Cobb and James Weaver leading the Porsche 962 to victory, barely threatened by the Jaguar XJR9 driven by Davy Jones and John Watson. The sister car had been withdrawn just after the Nissan, after 121 laps. It was a relatively good surprise to find the Spice Firebird GTP, driven by Bob Earl and Jeff Kline. The two of them finished six laps down the winners, but they proved they could post consistent results. The car, which was powered by a V6 Pontiac, was a little shy on power, but the chassis was very efficient, and was particularly effective on such a track. They had to fight off a late challenge by Steve Durst and Mike Brockman, who drove a Spice Buick. The Lights class was again dominated by Dan Marvin, who was partnered by Bob Lobenberg. Driving the Huffaker Spice Fiero, they finished three laps ahead of Jim Downing and Howard Katz, who had their best race in the season. Bob Lobenberg had a very successful return to racing, since his "off" period. John Higgins, driving a Fabcar Porsche, was third in class.
The next race was to be held at Columbus, yet another street circuit. Once again, Nissan was entering two cars. The first one was run by Geoff Brabham, but the second one was to be delegated to Derek Daly. The Englishman was not too long to get accustomed to the car, as he would stick it on the pole very soon. He was ahead of teammate Geoff Brabham. Third on the grid was the revived Chevrolet Corvette GTP driven by Bobby Rahal, who was just ahead of the first Jaguar XJR9, driven by Martin Brundle. It would be the first time a race featuring three Chevrolet Corvette GTPs. Alongside the two usual Goodwrench/Hendricks cars, Peerless Racing had a former car for Jack Baldwin and David Hobbs. This car proved immediately efficient and was faster than the usually entered cars. A bunch of Porsche 962s, led by the Busby Racing car, the Holbert Racing and the Bayside Motorsport cars, would try to counteract the Japanese domination. However, the task appeared tougher than ever. Moreover, the practice sessions would be saddened by the loss of Al Holbert, who died in a plane crash. It was a terrible happening and the car was withdrawn from the race.
The Lights class was again dominated, but this time by a smaller extent by Dan Marvin, who powered his Huffaker Spice Fiero to the class pole, just ahead of Tom Hessert, who Tiga GT288 Buick was more up to the task on such a course. Jim Downing was next. The race in itself was a remake of what you could expect all year long, with the two Nissans in front of the pack. Geoff Brabham and Derek Daly stayed in the lead, chased by the Jaguar XJR9 driven by Martin Brundle, while Bobby Rahal was out of the race by lap thirteen. While Martin Brundle had to retire on lap twenty three, the main opposition for the leading cars appeared to be the Porsche 962 driven by Klaus Ludwig, who started from row ten! Pushing his car very strong, he could climb up the standings and overtake one car after another. The second Jaguar, driven by Jan Lammers, lost some time in the pits and would finish in tenth place. Klaus Ludwig was, whose skill is not to be denied at all, ended up 3.3s down to Geoff Brabham, who won the race. It seemed that his domination was not so complete. Derek Daly's car was sidelined by an engine problem, and he lost three laps in the process.
Copyright Mark Windecker
The Porsche resistance was vigorous, and it was a good thing for the fans. Bob Wollek and Mauro Baldi took a very good third place overall, with Jack Baldwin and David Hobbs ending up in fourth place, just ahead of the similar car driven by Sarel van der Merwe and Elliot Forbes Robinson. The Lights class was won by Tom Hessert, who had a very convincing win over Jim Downing, while John Grooms was third on an old Argo JM16 Mazda. Tom Hessert was the 1988 Camel Lights Champion, beating perennial Champion Jim Downing who was defeated for the first time. Del Mar was the next to last event in the schedule. In a usually sunbathed country, the weather seemed unwilling to be sunny. Twenty seven cars would take the green. They would have to fight on a track which was likely to be very tough on the cars. Every mistake was to be resulting in a car destruction. The race was ill fated for John Nielsen-Davy Jones and the Wynn's Porsche 962 entered by John Hotschkis, whose cars were withdrawn prior to the race. Martin Brundle had stuck the Jaguar on the pole, and he was followed by Bob Wollek, who was running great in the Busby Racing Porsche 962. Sarel van der Merwe was third, besting the Nissan ZX T GTP, driven by Geoff Brabham! A true feat, and the race seemed to be open. The Lights class was again led by the Huffaker Spice Fiero driven by Dan Marvin, who had a great season end. He was ahead of Claude Ballot Léna and Bill Koll, both of them driving Whitehall Racing Spice Fieros. Tom Hessert was next. The race in itself was unusually dominated by Porsche, and Bob Wollek, for the most part of the event. On a track which was not designed for racing, overtaking was something of an uncertain action. While trying to pass Claude Ballot Léna, Sarel van der Merwe, who was fighting with Klaus Ludwig, hit the Spice Fiero from behind. As a result, the two cars were literally written off. The yellow flag was out. In front, three cars were still potential winners. Geoff Brabham, in third place, suddenly hit the wall, and found himself out of the race. That left Bob Wollek still in the lead, but his tires were fading. Trying to keep the pace, he was soon unable to hold off Martin Brundle, who cruised to a very rewarding victory. Bob Wollek was losing ground on the Jaguar and was even passed by Klaus Ludwig, who drove the Bayside Disposal Porsche 962, on the very last lap! Very disappointed, he had become aware of the fact that he had simply lost the most rewarding race in IMSA history : $140 000. Jaguar would end up in a very optimistic way a somewhat disappointing season. The Lights class saw a new domination from Californian driver Dan Marvin, who was the true revelation from the end of the season. He drove the Huffaker Spice Fiero to a new victory over Tom Hessert and David Loring, who had their best season ever. Third was Jim Downing, who lost his first Championship since its inception.
The season ended up with a very special event : the GTE World Challenge in Tampa. The race would feature a unique confrontation between GTP and Group C cars, with each entrant running within their home rules. Unfortunately, the race in itself would host an extremely thin field of fourteen cars. The Nissan ZX T GTP was again on the pole, but it was John Morton who would start the race. He would jump into the lead right from the start, but he was soon to be overtaken by Oscar Larrauri on the Brun Motorsport Porsche 962 and the Kremer Racing Porsche 962 driven by George Fouche. The Nissan pitted on lap twenty and fell one lap down the leaders. Geoff Brabham, who had taken the wheel of the Electramotive car, immediately took a very fast pace, and overtook the leader, being now on the same lap. He was now the fastest driver in the race. Gaining on the leaders, he took second place on lap forty five. It was Oscar Larrauri who pitted for fuel two laps later, leaving the lead to the Nissan ZX T GTP. Geoff Brabham would never relinquish it until the end of the race. George Fouche and Volker Weidler retired on lap eighty with engine problems. The Brun Motorsport Porsche 962 kept its position, ending up thirty four seconds behind the winning Nissan, and first of the Group C entries. The Richard Lloyd entered Porsche 962, driven by Price Cobb and James Weaver finished third, one lap down, but the drivers had to slow down in order to save fuel. In fourth place was the Ford Probe driven by Chip Robinson and Ruggero Melgrati. It was the car's best result ever.
The season was over, and the Electramotive Nissan ZX T GTP driven by Geoff Brabham emerged as the great winner of a very attractive Championship. Geoff Brabham was crowned but Nissan lost the manufacturers' Championship by one point. The cars were obviously getting outdated but they always were consistent and posted some good results, mainly in enduros. The greatest disappointment was to come the TWR Jaguar XJR9s, who had an outstanding season, but they suffered from too much caution periods, losing what they had gained on the track, as well as some bad luck. Jan Lammers, John Nielsen and Martin Brundle were World class drivers, and did very well in their very first season. The Lights class was finally won by Tom Hessert, who drove a Tiga GT288 Buick. He drove very consistently too, grabbing four victories and many top-five finishes, to win the first Lights title to be earned by someone else than Jim Downing. The latter finished second, but did not win any race at all. He was always in the top finishers, but it was clear that something had to get done for the upcoming season. The revelation was clearly Dan Marvin, who posted four wins, by season end. He was a late entrant in the class, and would have been a clear potential winner, had he entered every race.
Copyright Van Zannis
The GTO class was won by Scott Pruett, who drove a Roush Racing Mercury Merkur XR4Ti. Consistency was once again the name of the game, as he earned only two victories. Second was Wally Dallenbach Jr, who drove a Protofab Chevrolet Corvette, while Willy T Ribbs was third on a Toyota Celica T. The season was a long battle between the three usually entered makes, and Lincoln-Mercury emerged as the winners of a very close contest. The GTU class was something different, yet it was surely an unenexpected blow for the Japanese stalwarts. Tom Kendall had moved to the Chevrolet ranks, and the car proved immediately very competitive. Skipping the enduros, it was something of a stroll for Tom Kendall, who posted six wins, very far away from Amos Johnson, who was a distant second. Mazda was deprived from the GTU title from the first time since 1979. Dorsey Schroeder, a bright new star, would post three wins, at the wheel of the all-new Dodge Daytona. Things were likely to change a little bit, in every class, and it was good news for the future of IMSA.