JLD Motorsport is a German Racing team based in Munich, Germany which currently races in the F3RWRS as part of Melrose Racing Team. The team has spent many years in top-line single-seater categories including Formula One, IndyCar and the F1RWRS, funded mainly by their 30-odd year partnership with German manufacturer Porsche. Former five time Formula One World Champion Daniel Melrose drove for the team during its time in the F1RWRS before the entire operation was taken over by MRT and BMW.
The team was initially a German privateer team established by French immigrant Jean Louis Depault in 1968 to allow his son Pierre to race in domestic racing categories in Germany. The team immediately proved to be competitive and Pierre eventually made a career in sports car racing and racing for the ATS team in Formula One. JLD grew quickly in the domestic scene with several championships in various single seated categories in Germany yet success in European single seater championships eluded the team. That was until 1979 when a young Chris Dagnall won the British Formula Ford Championship with the team before scoring competitively in other foreign categories including a close second in the 1983 European Formula 3000 season after a season long tussle with Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle.
Despite the success with Dagnall it took the team another several years before they became a regular frontrunner in European Formula Three and European Formula 3000 in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Brits Alexander Valreys, Nathanael Spencer and Sam Emmett have had their big breaks in open wheeler racing through the JLD team.
In 1976, Porsche bought a stake in the JLD team to become the quasi-official junior squad of Porsche's motorsport program. This partnership expanded as Porsche eventually bought a majority stake in the team, as part of the manufacturer's plan to use JLD as the front of both Porsche's Formula One and IndyCar efforts. The latter was initially a Porsche run effort in America before they transferred it to JLD in 1991 due to disappointing results. As specialists in single-seater racing, the team managed to turn the struggling operation around to make the team successful in the highly-competitive environment at IndyCar's and CART's peak in the mid-late 90s. As Porsche gradually switched their focus towards Sports car and Endurance Racing during the 2000s however, JLD's operations were gradually cut back as the Champ Car program was scrapped altogether and many other projects in Europe were downsized, to the point where Porsche sold half their stack in the team to Mercedes in 2008.
At the same time as Dagnall's FF success, the JLD team were looking at entering Formula One with a partnership with another team. The Depaults entered negotiations with the ATS team for the 1979 season. As part of the deal, Pierre would get a drive for the 1979 season in an ATS prepared car with JLD providing technical assistance to the team. Progress for the team was initially slow with their first start not coming until round 5 courtesy of Hans Stuck. Two rounds in later, Depault scored his, and the team's, first finish at the Monaco GP, coming home in a respectable 15th place.
Furious about being sacked by the Brawn Formula One team and with the help of brother John, Frank Zimmer formed the Formula 1 Rejects World Race Series. JLD immediately signed up for the series, thanks to their Mercedes influence, and were expected to do well immediately with the many years experience in America and elsewhere and their seemingly limitless pool of resources. The team then rocketed to championship favourites by signing on multiple time Formula One World Championship winner Daniel Melrose and his former BMW Sauber teammate Dave Simpson. However the team failed to deliver when it mattered as Simpson scored 3 wins but only one other points result in nine races while Melrose had a shocking season before he was forced to miss the last 3 races. He was replaced by 1991 Formula One World Champion Chris Dagnall for the last 2 races, a reuniting of the partnership that took Dagnall all the way to Formula One. The Brit couldn't score a top 10 result however despite scoring the first pole for JLD at Eastern Creek for the season ending race.
Despite Australian airline QANTAS jumping on board as title sponsors for the team they were forced to size down to a single car effort when they couldn't find any suitable candidates to replace the outgoing Simpson. Porsche and Mercedes also sold their stakes in the operation during the off-season, sprouting rumours that the team might be in financial trouble. Fortunately, through Melrose's connections in Formula One, BMW stepped up to provide the teams with engines for the 2011 season. For the second year in a row however Melrose had a slow start to the season with only 7 points to his name after 4 races. A maiden win in the series at Spa Francorchamps turned all that around as a stellar mid-season run meant that with 5 rounds to go he had a healthy lead in the championship and looked to take yet another international series win. During that time rising German star Jeroen Krautmeir joined the team but he too also got off to a slow start to his career before a sensational third place finish at the Tasman Grand Prix to score his first points and podium. The Australian Grand Prix was nothing short of a disaster for the team as the team were sent packing by Friday afternoon. More points finishes followed before Krautmeir scored his first win at the season ending United States Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. It was a bittersweet moment for the team as teammate Melrose didn't do enough to secure the title over eventual champion Nathanael Spencer, having thrown away the convincing lead from just a few rounds prior.
Behind the scenes it was all change as along with the BMW engines there were murmurings that BMW and Melrose both wanted stakes in the team. Before the British Grand Prix a deal was reached where BMW and Melrose's MRT consortium would buy the team with MRT holding the majority stake in the team with BMW providing the engines and technical support for both the engine and chassis design for 2012 and beyond.
JLD in Indycars
In 1991, the team was brought in to take on the failed Porsche Indycar project with Porsche continuing to supply engines for the team. Although the fortunes of the team had improved, they only broke the top 5 on occasions in races and podiums were few and far between before the split in American Open Wheeler racing, and still far below the dizzying heights of 1989 with Teo Fabi. After the split, the team chose to stick with CART rather than join the ranks of the IRL, and as a result, the team became more competitive. JLD scored the occasional win throughout the late 90s before reaching its peak in 2001 and 2002 with 6th place in the championship for American Townsend Bell and 11th for Australian Jason Bright, with a smattering of points finishes and back-to-back victories at Laguna Seca for Bell and Surfers Paradise for Bright in the 2001 CART Fedex Championship Season. In 2002, Bell stayed on and the team downsized to a single car effort as Porsche reduced its financial support for the operation. This didn't deter them though as Bell put in a simply stellar season to edge Bruno Junquiera out for 2nd in the championship behind runaway winner Cristiano Da Matta. Bell's season included 3 wins at Long Beach, Milwaukee and Toronto. 2003 signaled the beginning of major problems for CART and the beginning of a slide for JLD in now renamed and reformed ChampCar Series. Bell captured another win at EuroSpeedway Luasitz but that was the only real result of note as he finished a dismal 10th in the championship. That win would be the last for the team as they switched from Porsche to Ford engines for 2004 and beyond as the new regulations took hold. This proved to be a major blow for the team because the Porsche engines were by far the strongest on ovals, as they were always competitive on them. Until the collapse of the series, the team scored many top 5 and top 10 race results but not much better than that in the hands of Canadian Alex Tagliani, with a season-best result of 6th in 2006 and 2007.
While their adventure in top-flight single seater racing may have been over for the time being, JLD maintained their presence in the junior categories and, along with ZimSport, became a major player in junior categories as young drivers made their way to the top of the motorsport hierarchy.
Complete F1RWRS Results
|2010||JLD 01||Porsche 366 Flat-6||GER||LUX||SAX||CHN||TAS||BHR||BEL||GBR||AUS||40||6th|
|2011||JLD M2/M2B||BMW P84/5||BAV||GER||SAX||LUX||BEL||GBR||ENG||KEN||NED||TAS||AUS||NSW||SUR||CHN||USA||93||2nd|
Complete Formula One Results
|1979||ATS D3||Ford Cosworth DFV||ARG||BRA||RSA||USW||ESP||BEL||MON||FRA||GBR||GER||AUT||NED||ITA||EUR||CAN||USA||AUS||0||21|
|1980||ATS D4||TAG Porsche turbo||AUS||RSA||BRA||BEL||FRA||MON||SWI||USA||CAN||IRE||GBR||GER||EUR||AUT||ITA||CAN||USE||0*||17*|
† denotes that a driver did not finish the race, but was classified due to completing more than 90% of the race distance