Tributes paid to Le Mans winner, Johnny Dumfries. 

John Bute, otherwise known as Johnny Dumfries - the racing driver who drove the TWR Silk Cut Jaguar to victory at Le Mans in 1988 has passed away at the age of 62.

His career started in F3 in 1984 before in 1986, he was team mate to Ayrton Senna in the JPS Lotus within F1. In 1988 he won Le Mans alongside Jan Lammers and Andy Wallace driving for TWR.

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He was a descendant of Robert the Bruce and heir to the marquisate of the Island of Bute off the West Coast of Scotland. His full title was John Colum Crichton-Stuart, 7th Marquess of Bute but to us in the Jaguar community he was known as 'Johnny Dumfries' one of the heroes of Jaguar's victorious assault upon Le Mans in 1988.

He preferred to be called John Bute amongst friends, a clue perhaps to the fact that he always shunned the trappings of nobility. He was keen not to be labelled as a 'gentleman driver' and instead to achieve motor racing success through hard work, determination and above all - talent. He worked hard at it, funding his racing through various jobs including van driver, painter & decorator.

When he arrived in F3 in 1984, racing for Team BP, he achieved that recognition and was marked out as the sensation of the year after winning 14 rounds in a season that he would totally dominate.

After leaving Lola's entry into the FIA International Formula 3000 championship after a disappointing year, fortune turned and he got his big break into F1. Legend has it that it was Ayrton Senna's dislike of Derek Warwick that got Dumfries through the door as Senna had stipulated that the team, JPS Lotus, focused entirely on him that season and that the second driver, Dumfries, would be there to simply make up the numbers. And so it was, that after 1 season Johnny Dumfries was dropped from the team having only managed 5th place in Hungary and failing to even qualify in Monaco. It was to be the last time that Johnny Dumfries would ever return to a race in F1.

In 1988 though came the moment that cemented his position as a hero to Jaguar fans. Dumfries had arrived in World Sportscars in the 1987 season racing for a Porsche team. But in 1988, fellow Scot Tom Walkinshaw signed him up to race in Group C in the TWR Jaguar. The Silk Cut liveried cars were a force to be reckoned with, winning the championship that year. Dumfries had a victory in Spa to start the year and was 2nd in Japan and 3rd at Daytona.

But most Jaguar fans will remember the Le Mans victory above all else, when Johnny Dumfries partnered Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers to victory. It was a dramatic race, the Brundle/Nielsen car retired. The car broke its gearbox and had to be nursed to the end of the race but all the times, Dumfries, Wallace and Lammers battled the relentless onslaught from the works Porsche to a heroic victory that rocked the motorsport world. In the years that followed of course, that victory would also prove to save the Jaguar brand itself.

But in motorsport, yesterday's saviour is soon forgotten and after a rookie mistake on the opening lap at 1,000 km race at the Nürburgring, Tom Walkinshaw decided not to retain Dumfries for the following season.

Andy Rouse took Dumfries on to his Kaliber Racing team in the BTCC where he drove a Ford Sierra RS500, he then went to TOMs Toyota and then Courage in 1991 before some testing again in 2003. In 1993, following the passing of his father he returned to the Isle of Bute to take up his seat as the 7th Marquess running the family's Mount Stuart estate.

He never completely turned his back motoring though and at one point even attempted to run a motorsport event on the island. He was known and respected by the local community for funding and supporting local initiatives. He died on March 22 at the age of 62 , after a short illness.

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