It was a cat-and-mouse game. The mouse never had a chance.
A pair of Jaguar XJR-12 prototypes, racing swiftly and yet cautiously, overwhelmed the field with a 1-2 finish Sunday in the Daytona 24 Hours sports car endurance race.
Davy Jones, Jan Lammers of the Netherlands and Andy Wallace of England combined to beat their stablemate by four laps and 54.115 seconds.
The runners-up--Price Cobb and 1988 Daytona winners Martin Brundle of England and John Nielsen of Denmark--finished two laps ahead of the third-place Porsche 962C.
The British-made "cats," slowed a bit near the end of the grueling twice-around-the-clock race at Daytona International Speedway, but still made their second victory in three years look easy.
Tony Dow, the team manager for Tom Walkinshaw Racing, which fields the Jaguars, said, "We asked both drivers to slow it down late in the race. You don't really want to throw it all away."
Asked how it felt to have his cars so far out front during most of Sunday's racing, Dow said, "The last 16 hours of the race were really tense."
Lammers, who was in the winning car at the end, combined with Wallace and Johnny Dumphries of Scotland in 1988 in winning the 24 Hours of LeMans.
For the 25-year-old Jones, from Cortland, N.Y., it was his first major victory. He finished seventh in last year's Indianapolis 500 and was a Jaguar regular in 1989.
"The pit stops were fabulous," Lammers said. "The crew did half the job. It allowed us to take it easy running in traffic."
Both Jaguars had problems with overheating in the final six hours of the race.
Nielsen, who has finished second in 12 of his past 24 IMSA Camel GT races, had his Jaguar in the lead until the overheating problem--which had forced a long pit stop several hours earlier--reappeared with 35 minutes remaining.
The late stop cost the runner-ups 6 minutes 17 seconds in the pits, ending their hopes of victory and cutting their final margin over the third-place Porsche 962C.
The winning car completed a race-record 761 laps. The 2,709.16 miles covered by the Jaguar and the average speed of 112.857 m.p.h. both were records for the current circuit, which was shortened in 1985.
Only 22 of the 55 cars that started the event were running at the end.