Armed with a Tipo 61, Frank Stippler made up almost a minute on his main rivals to be a Le Mans Classic winner
Former DTM and GT racer Frank Stippler’s victory in the unique Maserati Tipo 61 streamliner was one of many highlights of the fifth Le Mans Classic in July. More than 400 cars split into six eras turned up for the historic extravaganza, many of which are rarely seen on race tracks.
Stippler shared with owner Willi Balz in the ﬁrst of three races for cars built between 1957-61. Balz fell to ﬁfth in race one and decided to let Stippler drive the remaining races solo.
Gregor Fisken’s Ferrari 246S Dino won race one on the road before being dropped to fourth with a penalty for a pitstop infringement, and then retired from the second encounter. That left Stippler and the Lotus 15 of Roger Wills/Joe Twyman to ﬁght it out for aggregate honours.
Stippler won race two, but still needed to make up 54 seconds in the ﬁnale. The 3-litre Maserati, which was a front-runner at the 1960 Le Mans, charged off into the lead. A slow stop for the Lotus increased Stippler’s advantage and, despite a late push from Twyman, the Maserati took overall victory by four seconds.
Le Mans winners Richard Attwood and Vern Schuppan teamed up to drive the Porsche 917 that ﬁnished second in the 1971 24 Hours, but took a while to get up to speed. While they did so the Jacques Nicolet/Jean-Marc Luco Ligier JS3 and Bobby Verdon-Roe’s beautifully driven Ferrari P3 set the pace in the 1966-71 split.
After ﬁnishing one-two in race one, both hit trouble in the second leg, leaving the Lola T70 of Bernard Thuner to win. Schuppan was on the pace by race three and took the lead before the pitstops. But Attwood couldn’t hold off Thuner, who secured victory and the win on aggregate.
Nicolet/Luco bounced back in the 1972-79 section, scoring three wins in their Porsche 936. Nicolet saw off the challenge of Ludovic Caron’s Chevron B21 in race two, while Luco was tested by the Lola T280 of Jonathan Baker, which set the fastest lap of the weekend, in race three.
Albert Otten’s BMW 328 overcame an impressive onslaught of ex-works Talbots to win the pre-war class. The Talbot 105 of Gareth Burnett and Alex Ames was the fastest car in the split, winning race one comfortably and ﬁnishing on the BMW’s tail in the night race.
Burnett was leading race three when the 105 expired. The Alfa Romeo of Nicolas D’Ieteren/Jean-Pierre Lecou won on the road but was then handed a pitstop penalty. Victory therefore fell to Julian Bronson’s Talbot, while Otten secured his overall success with second.
Christian Glasel dominated the 1962-65 era, winning all three races in his Ford GT40, while 1949-56 honours went to the Jaguar D-type of Peter Neumark and James Baxter, despite the fact they didn’t win any of the three legs.