The Le Mans 24-Hour Race
JUNE 25th and 26th
AS it will be nearly six weeks since the Le Mans race was run before these words appear in public, there is little point in making a laborious report of the race. Instead there is reproduced on a following page, an hour-by-hour chart of the progress of the race showing how every one of the 55 starters fared, as it is felt that any readers being interested in the race such a long time after it took place will be of the more serious and studious type who are prepared to study such a chart and glean from it much of interest.
The Le Mans meeting consisted once again of three separate events run concurrently, in which all competitors took part, the first and most important being the Grand Prix d'Endurance, of which the winner is the car that covers the greatest distance between 4 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday and this was a wonderful triumph for Ferrari, a works car driven by Frere/ Gendebien leading for 23 of the 24 hours, running like a clock and never being challenged by anyone once it was in the lead. A similar car, a 12-cylinder 3-litre sports car with de Dion rear suspension came second, driven by Ricardo Rodriguez the young Mexican driver and Pilette, yet another Belgian driver, so that Belgium had three drivers in the first two cars. The car of Rodriguez/Pilette was a private entry from the North American Racing Team, supervised by past Le Mans winner Luigi Chinetti. In third place, some 60 miles behind the winner, came the ex-works Aston Martin DBR1/300 owned by the Scottish Border Reivers team and driven by Clark/Salvadori, aided by a certain amount of factory assistance. There followed a most impressive array of G.T. Ferraris, filling fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh places, all having run true endurance races with remarkable speed and regularity, while the reliability factor speaks for itself as this was a 24-hour race. In eighth place came a Chevrolet Corvette from the Briggs Cunningham stable, driven by Fitch/Grossmann and this car was lucky to finish as it completed the closing hours of the race in a very sick condition, running on barely four cylinders of its fuel-injection V8 engine. Even so it had a running battle with the Baillie/Fairman Aston Martin DBR1/300 which was driven safely and surely throughout the 24 hours, without showing any great turn of speed. It is interesting that this year big engined cars filled the first ten places in the overall classification, and it was not until the 11th place that the inevitable Porsche appeared in the results, and this was the all-aluminium Abarth-Carrera from the factory team, driven by Linge/Walter.
On the Index of Performance, which financially is as important as the G.P. of Endurance, the remarkable little flat-twin D.B. Panhard of only 702 c.c., in an open two-seater D.B. sports chassis, won comfortably, its relative performance outshining all other cars. Driven by those two D.B. specialists Laureau and Armagnac, two drivers who make a first-class team for long-distance racing, this little car put up a remarkable performance and its speed and distance is worth comparing with other cars that finished near it in the general category. Second on Index came the overall distance-winning Ferrari, which indicates that although it did not set up a new distance record for the 24 hours, it was not touring round even though it had a comfortable lead, for to get in the first three on Index after the French calculators have been at work on what you are doing compared with what you should be capable of doing, is very creditable. In a rather unobtrusive third place came the 750-c.c. OSCA of Bentley/Gordon, which though it was not the equal of the special works 996-cc. Austin Sprite which finished 20th in general classification, the small engine size of the OSCA paid off on the calculating machines.
Finally, there was the race on Index of Energy, a strange title for a Formula which takes into account the weight of the car, its running average speed and the amount of fuel it is using. As will be seen from the results the Lotus Elite proved itself to have an excellent "Energy Index," by reason of good fuel consumption and a high average speed, even though its low weight handicapped it in the calculations. The Scottish Aston Martin appeared high in this list as its greater weight and worse fuel consumption was offset by a much higher average speed than the Elites. Although weighing about the same as the winning Ferrari, and not being as fast, it had a superior fuel consumption, which is why it led the Ferraris in this category. The progress of the race can briefly be summed up as being one of regularity and endurance rather than one of speed and reliability, and the initial "sprint" lasted two hours, during which time Masten Gregory showed the latest Tipo 61 Maserati 2.89-litre to be easily the fastest sports car of 1960. There was no mad "battle of giants" during the opening hours of the race, in fact there was a noticeable absence of "giants" amongst the drivers, they were all steady, sober, long-distance drivers and while no one could catch Gregory in the blue and white Maserati running under the colours of the Camoradi Team, it was noticeable how many American coloured cars were competing this year, with three Maseratis, one Jaguar, four Corvettes, and four Ferraris. The leading Maserati was delayed at its first pit stop by a broken wire in the starter and it is interesting to follow its progress on the accompanying chart, until the engine blew up during the hours of darkness. The second Camoradi Maserati driven by Casner/ Jeffords made a poor start, but gradually made up for this only to be delayed by a repetition of the leader's starter motor trouble, only this time the fault was known in advance. Finally this car went off the road into the stupid sand banks the organisers insist on placing on some of the bends. Although extracted from the bank some of the sand got into the gearbox via the gear selector mechanism and everything eventually ground to a halt. The third car, driven by Munaron/Scarlatti, was being driven by the first-named when he saw smoke appearing from near his feet, so he stopped at once to investigate, stopping the engine. It was the same starter motor trouble as the other two had suffered, so of course there was no hope of getting the car started again and it had to be abandoned out on the circuit quite healthy in all other respects.
Of the four Ferrari works cars two of them went out before the first refuelling stop for they both ran short of fuel before they were due in and were too far from the pits to do anything about it. Von Trips was in a de Dion suspended car and Scarfiotti was in an i.r.s. car, both having V12 cylinder engines and similar in all other respects to the winning car. These two early retirements meant that Phil Hill and Pedro Rodriguez never got a drive. The fourth works car, another i.r.s. model with V12 cylinder engine, was driven by Mairesse/Ginther and as can be seen they fluctuated around second and third positions until a drive shaft broke during Sunday morning. Much was expected of the brand new C-type Jaguar Mk. III, popularly known as an E-type, built specially for Briggs Cunningham by the Jaguar factory and supported by them at the race. This was of entirely new chassis construction, using stressed skin principles and had i.r.s., while the six-cylinder engine was all-alloy and used Lucas fuel-injection. After only three laps it had a long pit stop to cure a fuel leak and thereafter never got really on form, suffering numerous fuel pipe and injection pipe troubles and finally this messing about of the mixture caused a piston to burn out. The only other Jaguar running was the old one of the Ecurie Ecosse and though this held fourth place for a long time, and even got up to third place, it finally succumbed to engine trouble. This was a 3-litre engine built up from a basis of 2.4-litre Jaguar, made entirely by the Ecurie Ecosse themselves.
While this year's Le Mans race was not a Jaguar year it was equally not a year for Porsche, for like last year the factory team of RS60 models ran into trouble. The number one car, driven by Bonnier/Graham Hill, was delayed in the opening laps as both drivers kept hearing a "clonk ' in the chassis, indicative of a broken chassis or something wrong in the suspension, but nothing could be found and after dropping to 54th place they climbed steadily upwards to 14th place before a cylinder head joint blew. By this time their pit was lacking in cars and activity so the mechanics removed the complete engine in front of the pits, took off a cylinder head to verify the trouble and then put it all back again and wheeled the car to the dead car park. This car was fitted with larger cylinders than standard to give 1,606 c.c. and put it into the next larger class and by doing this a slightly larger fuel tank was allowed, for this year tank capacities were limited according to engine size, which was partly the reason for the works Ferraris running out of fuel, for this limitation together with a slight error in calculation left no safety margin. A second enlarged Porsche RS60 was driven by Trintignant/Herrmann, but this retired quite early on with piston trouble. A third works RS60 had reduced bores to bring it into the 1,500 c.c. category and though it went in true Porsche fashion, driven by Barth/ Seidel it eventually ran into gearbox/rear axle trouble and sat at the pits for a long time and finally limped round for one desperate lap at the end of the race in order to qualify as a finisher.
Lotus cars this year were restricted to four privately-owned Elites, of which two finished, being first and second in the Energy Index race. There was to have been an Elite competing fitted with a 2-litre twin-cam Climax engine, owned by Jonathan Sieff, but after his practice crash in his standard Elite, this special car was withdrawn from the race. The only small English Climax-powered sports car was the Lola of Vogele/Ashdown, which was fitted with a regulation full-sized screen, now complete with a framework, but it was never very outstanding in its performance and finally went out with piston trouble. Of the big manufacturers' sports cars from England a privately-entered and run twin-cam M.G.-A., driven by Lund/Escott, ran beautifully and finished a worthy 13th overall, beating the works team of special twin-cam Triumphs which had all gone rather sick during the 24 hours. The M.G. was fitted with a very pretty hard-top, making it into a true G.T. car, looking as sleek as a Giulietta or a Porsche. As a private entry at Le Mans this M.G. was a most worthy example of how to attempt the 24-hour race and to achieve satisfactory results.
One interesting thing to see in the accompanying chart is the very erratic progress of the car No. 2 the Chevrolet Corvette of Windridge/Thompson. This was a very good example of how not to do Le Mans. Its progress up and down the chart was accounted for by minor crashes and stops for repairs and it finally went out in a big cloud of smoke as the engine blevv up heartily.
All told it was not an inspiring Le Mans 24-Hour race, but it was indicative of how the race might well be developed in the future, to exclude factory cars and run it as a super Club meeting, combined with an S.C.C.A. event, whereby amateur teams and drivers could have a full 24 hours motor racing amongst themselves with every chance of victory. The annual 250,000 people would still turn up to watch for, like the Derby, the Le Mans race is traditional and people go to watch and just be at Le Mans whether they are interested in racing or not, as was proved by the enormous crowds that returned to the circuit this year to witness a not very exciting finish. However, they were all most appreciative of the magnificent Ferrari demonstration and cheered and waved as Paul Frere led the second place car and two G.T. Ferraris round for the last few laps in a triumphal Maranello procession. The enthusiasm for Frere and Gendebien at the finish was terrific, the crowds completely overwhelming the strong fome of police and flooding the track so that the 24 hours ended in glorious and happy chaos.
Results : LE MANS 24-HOUR-June 25/26th-Wet and Dry
Grand Prix of Endurance - Classification by distance: - number of complete laps - distance in k.m. - k.p.h.
1st: P. Frere/ O. Gendebien (Ferrari 2,953 c.c. V12 Sport)... 313... 4,217.527... 175.730
2nd: R. Rodriguez/ A. Pilette (Ferrari 2,953 c.c. V12 Sport)... 309... 4,163.670... 173.456
3rd: J. Clark/ R. Salvadori (Aston Martin 2,992 c.c. DBR1/300)... 305... 4,117.708... 171.571
4th: F. Tavano/ "Loustel" (Ferrari 2,953 c.c. 250GT V12)... 301... 4,055.928... 168.997
5th: G. Arents/ A. Connell (Ferrari 2,953 c.c. 250GT V12)... 299... 4,030.271... 167.928
6th: L. Dornier/ P. Noblet (Ferrari 2,953 c.c. 250GT V12)... 299... 4,029.004... 167.875
7th: J.E. Hugus/ A. Pabst (Ferrari 2,953 c.c. 250GT V12)... 298... 4,019.930... 167.497
8th: J. Fitch/ R. Grossmann (Chevrolet Corvette 4,640 c.c. V8)... 280... 3,782.006... 157.564
9th: I. Baillie/ R. Fairman (Aston Martin 2,992 c.c. DBR1/300)... 280... 3,780.720... 157.530
10th: L. Lilley/ F. Gamble (Chevrolet Corvette 4,640 c.c. V8)... 275... 3,713.732... 154.739
11th: H. Linge/ H.J. Walter (Porsche Carrera Abarth 1,588 c.c.)... 268... 3,619.750... 150.823
12th: E. Barth/ W. Seidel (Porsche 1,498 c.c. RS60)... 263... 3,552.458... 148.019
13th: E. Lund/ C. Escott (M.G. Twin Cam 1,762 c.c.)... 261... 3,522.379... 146.766
14th: R. Masson/ C. Laurent (Lotus Elite 1,220 c.c.)... 260... 3,513.011... 146.375
15th: M. Becquart/ K. Ballisat (Triumph TR5 1,985 c.c.)... 256... 3,458.402... 144.100
16th: J. Wagstaff/ A.E. Marsh (Lotus Elite 1,220 c.c.)... 255... 3,454.992... 143.954
17th: G. Laureau/ P. Armagnac (D.B. 702 c.c. Sport)... 252... 3,405.447... 141.894
18th: L. Leston/ M. Rothschild (Triumph TR5 1,985 c.c.)... 252... 3,404.575... 141.857
19th: N. Sanderson/ P. Bolton (Triumph TR5 1,985 c.c.)... 249... 3,354.264... 140.178
20th: J. Dalton/ J. Colgate (Austin Sprite SPecial 996 c.c.)... 245... 3,307.438... 137.810
21st: P. Lelong/ M. Van den Bruwaene (D.B. 851 c.c. Sport)... 243... 3,227.250... 136.552
22nd: A. Wicky/ G. Gachnang (A.C. Bristol 1,971 c.c.)... 239... 3,221.201... 134.217
23rd: J. Bentley/ J. Gordon (OSCA 745 c.c)... 236... 3,189.823... 132.909
24th: R. Bouharde/ J. Jaeger (D.B. 851 c.c. Special Coupe)... 227... 3,068.847... 127.869
25th: R. Bartholoni/ B. de St Aubin (D.B. 851 c.c. cope)... 222... 3,001.545... 125.064
55 starters - 25 finishers
Index of Performance:
1st: D.B. Panhard (Laureau/ Armagnac)... 1.257 Index
2nd: Ferrari (Frere/ Gendebien)... 1.157 Index
3rd: OSCA (Bentley/ Gordon)... 1.151 Index
Index of Energy - Fuel consumption, speed and weight:
1st: Lotus Elite (Wagstaff/ Marsh)... 1.148 Index... 24.27 m.p.g.
2nd: Lotus Elite (Masson/ Laurent)... 1.021 Index... 21.11 m.p.g.
3rd: D.B. Panhard (Bouharde/ Jaeger)... 0.968 Index... 31.63 m.p.g.
4th: Aston Martin (Clark/Salvadori)... 0.942 Index... 11.23 m.p.g.
5th: Austin Sprite (Dalton/Colgate)... 0.942 Index... 23.68 m.p.g.
Gran Turismo Class
1st: Ferrari 250GT (Tavano/ Loustel)... 168.997 k.p.h.
2nd: Ferrari 250GT (Arents/ Connell)... 167.928 k.p.h.
3rd: Ferrari 250GT (Dernier/ Noblet)... 167.875 k.p.h.
4th: Ferrari 250GT (Hugus/ Pabst)... 167.497 k.p.h.