I wish to correct a caption in last month’s article on Jean-Pierre Jarier. The photo is of the two Renault-Mirages, not Alpines. These were the same Mirage chassis that, fitted with DFVs, finished first and third at Le Mans in 1975, and second and fifth in 76.
In 1977, we had an arrangement with Renault to use their engines and were fortunate to finish second again, with Vern Schuppan and J-P J, when all three Renault Alpines had engine failures.
The reason that we were able to get one car to the end of the race was that Renault had only made gear ratios for the Alpines on Michelin tyres. The Mirages, entered by Grand Touring Cars of Phoenix, were contracted to Goodyear, whose rear tyres were larger in diameter than Michelin’s. No alternative ratios were available, so the Mirages were overgeared all round the circuit, and particularly on the Mulsanne Straight where peak engine speed was reduced by about 500rpm. The cars were slower, therefore but avoided, by good luck only, the fate of broken pistons that befell all the Alpines.
I am, yours etc, John Horsman, Tucson, Arizona, USA