Elva quartet repeats 24-hour Ricard victory

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The ultra-reliable Elva-BMW Mk8 of Sylvain and Henri Stepak, Gerard Back and Gerard Autajon, repeated last year’s victory in Van de Vyver Racing’s sixth annual Deux Tours d’Horloge marathon at Paul Ricard in November, after a stirring charge by Michel Quiniou’s Chevron B8 team was thwarted by mechanical failure.

The Chevron, co-driven by Alain Filhol and Steve Hitchins, started from pole, but a broken rocker took 68 minutes to fix, and dropped it to 52nd. Undeterred, the trio clawed back ground through the night and were lying second, nine laps shy of the Elva, when a stub axle broke. /p>

No such dramas befell the Elva, which, after particularly strong stints by resident Winfield School instructor Bade, and a scheduled tyre change at half-distance, took the chequered flag 16 laps ahead of the Porsche 911s of Belgian Felix Brasseur and veteran Frenchman Raymond Touroul. Gerard Besson’s sleek Alpine-Renault Le Mans coupe was a brilliant fourth.

Perhaps the most remarkable story of the race, however, was the performance of Gerard MacQuillan’s Lotus Elan, which confounded the history books by finishing 11th, with a class win to its credit. “We don’t know of a precedent for an Elan completing an International 24-hour race without trouble,” said co-driver Gerry Wainwright. Simon de Lautour and Rupert Beckwith-Smith also drove.

The only casualty of the weekend was the TVR Griffith of Michel Krine which crashed heavily after setting third quickest time in qualifying. The driver escaped injury. The only TVR to finish was Serge van Havre’s Griffith, shared by Mark Freeman.