Breakthrough at Le Mans
A resounding British success at Le Mans! Thanks to Williams Lyons for building the new Type ‘C’ XK120 Jaguar, to Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead for driving one to a brilliant victory, and to Stirling Moss for taking the lap record in another of these Jaguars in the early stages of the world’s most important sportscar race and thus breaking up the Talbot opposition.
The conquering Jaguar covered 2243.9 miles in the two rounds of the clock, a speed of 93.49mph, 3.76mph faster than the Talbot record win last year. They finished, to British cheers, nine laps ahead of a 4.5-litre Talbot driven by Meyrat and Mairesse.
Moss’ 105.1mph lap record beat the 1950 Talbot record by 2.26mph.
100mph mark passed in 1953
The Le Mans 24-hour race carries with it more tradition and history than any other event in the minds of most people, and the occasion of the XXIst Grand Prix d’Endurance, on June 13/14, not only continued this position, but celebrated its 21st birthday by being the first occasion when over 100mph has been achieved for the whole 24 hours. This wonderful achievement was recorded by APR Rolt and J Duncan Hamilton driving a worksentered XK120C Jaguar, and they averaged over 105.5mph. So fast was the pace set by the leaders that the first seven finishers all averaged over the 100mph mark.
Four XK120C Jaguars started and four finished, whereas the teams of exotic continental cars built specifically to win races such as this — Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia, Pegaso, Talbot — melted away when the time came.
Under these circumstances, the Jaguar victory is the more creditable. The XK120C, in 1951 form but with reformation of power curve obtained by a change to Weber carburettors and other modifications, is, we venture to suggest, more closely related to Jaguar’s other productions than are the sports/racing cars they beat so convincingly. So Britain is in the desirable position of having won the most important sportscar race of the year with cars closely related to the Jaguar production models from Coventry.
Le Mans 1953 was a great British occasion, as befits Coronation year.