My Greatest Race: Hans Stuck

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

A moment’s misjudgement by a colleague tore a certain third Le Mans win from Hans Stuck’s grasp, but he recalls the fight to undo the damage as one of his best races.

The race I remember most is not an event I won, although I should have I’d won Le Mans for Porsche in 1986 and ’87 with Derek Bell and Al Holbert. Winning it again in ’88 would have been a logical step. But what is logic in motorsport? We had the capacity, everything we needed, but it didn’t work.

With Al and Derek and myself I was always totally relaxed. I knew with those two guys, I didn’t have to worry. We were all a similar speed. Derek was the best co-driver I ever had, but that year he had one little problem. In those days the Mulsanne Corner pit signalling was still there, and we had the readings the fuel meter should have at Mulsanne written on a little piece of paper on the steering wheel. But Derek was a bit short-sighted and had to wear glasses by then! We didn’t know how well he could read those figures, so we had to make a bigger piece of paper for the wheel.

Al was very smooth with the car; very good on fuel. But he wasn’t with us for the third year, as he had retired to set up the Porsche Indycar team. So Derek and I had a new partner — Klaus Ludwig. He’d won Le Mans in 1984 and ’85 with Joest, and I had won the Sebring 12 Hours with him earlier that year. Le Mans was his first time in the factory team. He was a great driver, so I thought it would be no problem.

We had three cars, with Mario, Michael and John Andretti in the third. I’d known Mario for a long time, but never had him as a team-mate, and I was a bit unsure when he appeared with his clan. But he was a very easy to handle guy, no politics. He had a good, professional attitude.

Our car was one I was using in the German Supercup. It was a very special chassis, and it was a bit different to the other ones, a little lighter and stiffer. Our confidence was quite high, because we knew the car was good. The big opposition was obviously Jaguar, who came with five cars. Porsche had some funny stickers made saying ‘Neuter the cat!’. We knew we had the speed, and if we did a reasonable job, we could win the race. But as many times as that happens, just as often it does not happen quite how you want it to. My experience now is that whenever I was confident, it never really worked!

I got pole position, and for the first two hours we were running second behind one of the Jags. Everything was going fine, until Klaus tried to do an extra lap at the end of his first stint, and ran out of fuel. It was obvious that he thought he could do another lap on the reserve tank, but there was a rule at Porsche that if you have to switch onto reserve before the pit entrance, you have to come in whatever happens, because then you’re going to be pretty safe. Afterwards we found out that he had already switched to the reserve 2kms before the pit entrance…

Maybe he thought he had more fuel than was indicated or perhaps was thinking about some wins he had in a private car, when he might have had more fuel than we had in the factory Porsche tank… if you know what I mean! Or maybe he thought he was going to make this extra lap because he was particularly good on fuel consumption. Who knows?

I was sitting in the motorhome with Derek, because Klaus was supposed to do two stints, and we saw him slowing on the TV. I needed new underwear, to be honest. I just thought, “Hey, that’s our car, what the hell’s going on?” Derek was sort of paralysed. He said, “That was our win, it’s finished. We’ve wasted too much time.”

He had to make it to the pits on the starter motor. It was from the end of the Porsche Curves, about 1.5kms, so we lost two laps. I didn’t say anything to Klaus. He stayed in for the second stint, and there was no time to talk during the race. For sure he didn’t do it on purpose, because he wanted to win as well. He didn’t want to spoil our chances. It just happened. The mistake was done, so why argue afterwards? We’ve never discussed it over the last 10 years.

After that, it was quite up and down. The Andrettis and our other car had problems, so it was down to us. We were charging, and through the night we caught some time on the leading Jaguar; the turbo engine always ran well in the cool of the night. We got up to second at half-distance, but then we lost 6min with a fuel pump problem and dropped back from the Jaguar again.

But when the night was over, a little shower came. Peter Falk, our team manager, advised me to go onto rain tyres, but I wanted to stay on slicks.

It was very hairy, but I caught up a lot. The engine was misfiring, which didn’t help. I came in very late, stayed on the rain tyres for a little while, and then came in very soon for slicks. It was my decision because the line was dry. Again it was quite hairy to overtake another car off the line, but it paid off; we made up a lot of time, and at the finish we were less than a lap behind the Jaguar.

It was a very emotional race, with all the Jaguar fans cheering every time a car went by, and I was happy for them. They deserved to win. If the other guy does a better job, why not? And it was nice for Le Mans to have different marques winning. If a company wins the race 15 times in a row, it’s not very interesting any more. It was a shame to miss my third win, and I’m still waiting after 10 years! But in the end I think your most important Le Mans win is the first one. In actual fact it doesn’t matter if you win three or four times, because in reality you have to be able to win six or seven times to go down in history and that is something I could never achieve. So I have no problem with it.

You may also like

Related products