Claude Ballot-Lena

Born:
4th August 1936
Paris, Ile-de-France
Died:
9th November 1999 (Aged 63)
Paris, Ile-de-France, cancer
Nationality:
French
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

Claude Ballot-Léna was virtually a permanent fixture in the Le Mans 24 Hours from 1966 to 1989. He competed 23 times during which time he won his class on seven occasions although overall victory proved elusive. Above all, he was popular for his positive outlook and charming demeanour – Ballot-Léna epitomised the phrase “joie de vivre”.

Background and early competition career

After completing his national service in 1960, Ballot-Léna worked for the family road construction business. He also started racing and earned a strong reputation that decade in both French saloons and rallying. His first success came with a Renault Dauphine in the 1963 Prix de Paris touring car race.

Having failed to qualify in 1965, Ballot-Léna made his Le Mans debut in 1966 for Marcos and finished 15th. But it was in Europe’s other 24 hour race that he made his international breakthrough by winning the 1969 Spa 24 Hours. The works Mercedes team had withdrawn on race morning and when some faster cars retired, Ballot-Léna’s Porsche 911 scored a comfortable victory with Guy Chasseuil as co-driver.

24-hour success at Le Mans and Daytona

His best finish at Le Mans was third in 1977 when partnering Peter Gregg in the JMS Racing Porsche 935. But his next move was a surprise NASCAR debut and he started six events for G.C.Spencer in 1978 and 1979. He enjoyed one further international victory – benefiting from co-driver Bob Wollek’s brilliant comeback drive in Preston Henn’s Porsche 935 to win the 1983 Daytona 24 Hours.

The 1989 season was Ballot-Léna’s last and he finished sixth at Le Mans in a Joest Porsche 962 shared with Jean-Louis Ricci and fellow veteran Henri Pescarolo. The 53 year old Parisian finally hung up his helmet after that year’s Spa 1000Kms.

Ballot-Léna continued to manage an industrial cleaning company and was co-owner of two restaurants. But he was diagnosed with cancer from which he died when only 63 years old.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1989 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Joest Racing
France Prototeam
7 0 0 0 41st 4
1988 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Chamberlain Engineering
11 0 0 0 42nd 19
1987 World Touring Car Championship
JMS Racing Team
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1986 World Sports-Prototype Championship
Porsche
1 0 0 0 60th 4
1985 World Endurance Championship
Group 44 Racing
1 0 0 0 0
1984 World Endurance Championship
Group 44 Racing
1 0 0 0 0
1983 World Endurance Championship
John Fitzpatrick Racing
1 0 0 0 93rd 1
1983 IMSA Camel GT Championship
Preston Henn
1 1 1 1 0
1982 World Endurance Championship
Charles Pozzi Ferrari France
1 0 0 0 0
1981 World Endurance Championship
Charles Pozzi SA
2 0 0 0 143rd 17
1980 World Championship of Makes
Charles Pozzi JMS Racing
2 0 0 0 0
1979 Winston Cup Grand National 87th 152
1979 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1978 World Championship of Makes
Henri Cachia
Brumos Porsche
4 0 0 0 11
1978 Winston Cup Grand National 55th 316
1977 World Championship of Makes
JMS Racing Team
Brumos Porsche
4 0 1 0 21
1976 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1975 World Championship of Makes
Ecurie Robert Buchet
4 0 0 0 11
1974 World Championship of Makes
Robert Buchet
1 0 0 0 0
1973 World Championship of Makes
Pozzi-France
1 0 0 0 6
1973 European GT Championship 1st -
1972 World Championship of Makes
Automobiles Charles Pozzi
1 0 0 0 8
1971 International Championship of Makes
Auguste Veuillet
2 0 0 0 2
1970 International Championship of Makes
Sonauto
1 0 0 0 1
1969 International Championship of Makes
Auguste Veuillet
1 0 0 0 0
1968 International Championship of Makes
Auguste Veuillet
1 0 0 0 0
1967 International Championship of Makes
Automobiles CD
1 0 0 0 0
1966 International Championship of Makes
JL Marnat
1 0 0 0 0
1965 International Championship of Makes
Abarth France
0 (1) 0 0 0 0