50th Le Mans 24 hour race

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JACKY ICKX and Derek Bell notched up another victory in the classic 24 hour race at Le Mans last month. Driving a 956 Porsche, they took over the lead in the ninth hour, but did not have things entirely their own way, suffering from a mixture problem which caused a misfire and later from a puncture which eroded their five lap lead to two. The first hours of the race were the most interesting, with Rondeau, Ford and Porsche competing keenly for the lead. The Rondeau of Mignault, Lapeyre and Spice led for the first three hours on aggregate, and the Ford C100 of Winkelhock and Niedzwiedz was given the honour for the fourth hour. For the remainder of the race, a Porsche headed the hourly bulletins, first the 956 of Haywood, Holbert and Barth which led to the eighth hour, when they were delayed first by a door blowing open and then by a wheel bearing failure: when the bearing was replaced, they suffered further delay when it was found that the suspension had also been damaged. The Rondeau which led the initial stages went out of the race at 2.00 a.m. with electrical failure, a problem which had also affected the second Ford C100 of Ludwig and Surer which had succumbed after four hours. The Winkelhock /Niedzwiedz car went out when the engine blew up.

The Lancia team, which has had things much its own may in some recent races, were plagued with fuel feed trouble which led to engine failure and were never in the running. The Aston Martin engined Nimrods, on the other hand, gave a demonstration of their potential, the Needell, Evans and Lees works car leading Viscount Downe’s privately entered car in the early stages until tyre failure caused it to crash on the Mulsanne straight. The Dowse car, driven by Salmon, Phillips and Mallock rose to fourth place during the latter half of the race, but lost the chance of taking third place when valve failure reduced the operational cylinders to seven. Production schedules prevent us carrying a full report of this race in this issue — a review will appear next month.

Results

1st: J. Ickx/D. Bell (Porsche 956T) 359 laps (204.128 k.p.h.)
2nd: J. Mass/V. Schuppan (Porsche 956T) 356 laps
3rd: H. Haywood/A. Holbert/J. Barth (Porsche 956T) 340 laps
4th: J. Fitzpatrick/D. Hobbs (Porsche 956T) 329 laps
5th: D. Snobeck/F. Servanin/R. Metge (Porsche 956T) 325 laps
6th: P. Diedonne/C. Baird/ J. P. Libert (Ferrari 512BB) 322 laps
7th: R> Mallock/S. Phillips/M. Salmon (Aston Martin Nimrod) 317 laps
8th: J. Cooper/P. Smith/C. Bourgoignie (Porsche 856T)
9th: A. Cudini/J. Morton/J. Paul (Farrari 512BB) 306 laps
10th: P. Yver/B. Solty/L. Guitteny (Rondeau) 306 laps