44èmes Grand Prix d'Endurance les 24 Heures du Mans 1976
Circuit Permanenthe de la Sarthe
Date: June 12th and 13th, 1976
Track Length: 13,640 metres
Distance: 4769.923 km
Fastest Lap: Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Alpine, 3:43.00 = 220.197
Pole Position: Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Alpine, 3:33.01 = 230.427 km/h
Average Speed: 198.746 km/h
Leading virtually from start to finish in heat-wave conditions, Jacky lckx, 31, of Belgium and his Dutch co-driver Gijs van Lennep 34, driving a 2.1-litre 520 bhp turbo-charged Porsche 936, cleaned up the 24 Hours Endurance classic at Le Mans. The winning car, the first turbo-charged version to win the event, covered 349 laps to average 198.75 km/h for 4770 km. Despite an unscheduled pit stop for half an hour to replace a turbo-charger, they still managed to win by 11 laps from J-Louis Lafosse and Francoise Migualt, of France, in an old rebodied Lola-Ford.
A Mirage-Ford, driven by Aussie Vern Schuppan and popular Britain Derek Bell, was fifth 23 laps behind. Vern was one of five Aussies taking part. Third place, and the ones who got the biggest cheer from the mighty 200,000 crowd went to popular London stamp dealer Alain de Cadenet 29, and Chris Craft 33, in a modified Lola-Ford. The pair finished 12 laps behind the leaders suffering acute pain from blistered right feet. Their car was virtually built up from old bits by Alain de Cadenet in a London mews garage with the help of one mechanic.
This was Ickx's third win at LeMans - a feat bettered by only one man, his fellow-countryman Oliver Gendebein. Ickx won last year with Derek Bell (who this year partnered Vern Schuppan), and in 1969 partnered by Britain's Jackie Oliver. Fifty-five cars, a mixture of Group 5 and 6 plus some US IMSA and Nascar series sportscars, lined up at the start. Twenty-seven finished. They included, apart from Vern Schuppan, other Australians — Tim Schenken who co-drove the 4.2-litre Porsche 934 Turbo of Toine Hezemanns into sixteenth place, and John Goss, the Aussie F5000 driver, making his European debut - at Le Mans.
Jean Beurlys, the Belgian provided the car. They finished, which was something, last and 27th, which was something else. However, they did do better than Peter Brock who brought over his BMW to share with expatriot Brian Muir. Their troubles started in the first hour after starting eighth last, with a broken hub. From then on just about everything hit them from a cracked bell-housing, to punctures, to vibrations - you name it, they seemed to have had it. Eventually, and you've got to hand it to the pair for spirit, they went out early in the afternoon with only three hours to go - with a blown cylinder head gasket.
All in all the new experiment of mixing the different varieties and categories of cars together, proved a great success. It meant Les Vingt-Quartre Heures looked something like the great sports car race it once was and that its future, in doubt these past couple of years, is pretty well assured. Speaking of high speed, the big 7-litre 660 bhp Corvette, Spirit of '76, driven by John Greenwood was initially (before being geared down) doing 190 km/h in first gear and 346 km/h down Mulsanne straight. That's a tall first gear! Now that, combined with all the corners and other dangers of night and day driving, is motor racing. It's dangerous too, of course.
Unsuitable machinery, which is probably what the Datsun 260Z private entry was that crashed and burnt out on Mulsanne, comes into that category. The car had been handling badly, according to reports, and the young driver, Andre Haller, a Strasbourg restaurateur, was killed. That, the race could have done without ....
1. Porsche 936 2.1-litre t/c (J. Ickx/G. Van Lennep) 349 laps 4770 kilometres. 198.75 km/h; 2. Mirage GR8-DFV 3-litre (J.L. Lafosse/F. Migault) 338 laps; 3. De Cadenet Lola T380-DFV (C. Craft/A. de Cadenet) 337 laps; 4. Porsche 935 2.85-litre t/c (R. Stommelin/M. Schurti) 331 laps, (class winner); 5. Mirage-Cosworth Ford DFV GR8 (Derick Bell/Vern Schup-pan) 326 laps; 6. Porsche Carrera RSR 314 (A. Cudini/R. Touroul) 314 laps. Fastest lap: Reinhold Joest (2.1 Porsche 908-3/936 turbo) on lap 19, 3m 48.9s. 215.72 km/h.
Sports Group 6, 2001- 3000cc
Jacky Ickx , B / Gijs van Lennep, NL
Sports Group 6, 2000cc
F. Trisconi / G. Morand / A. Chevalley
Lola T292 - Cosworth
Rolf Stommelen, D / Manfred Schurti, FL
"Segolen" (André Gahinet), F / Michel Ouviére, F / Jean-Yves Gadal, F
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR
Jean-Pierre Laffeach, F / John Rulon-Miller, USA / Tom Vaugh, USA
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR
Henri Pescarolo, F / Jean-Pierre Beltoise, F
Inaltera - Ford Cosworth DFV
J.-L. Ravenel / J.-M. Detrin / J. Ravenel
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