1986 Le Mans 24 Hours
- Saturday, May 31, 1986
- 24 heures du Mans
- World Sports-Prototype Championship
The list of achievements goes further, for this was Porsche’s 11th victory since 1970 — Ferrari is the next most successful marque, with nine wins — and Bell and Holbert also won the Daytona 24-Hours in February, a rare double. It was not all plain sailing, though, because for 12 hours the number 1 works Porsche had duelled ferociously with the Joest Porsche 956 driven by Klaus Ludwig, Paolo Barilla and John Winter, exchanging the lead repeatedly.
It became a personal duel between Bell and Ludwig during the night, slipstreaming on the Mulsanne Straight with rarely more than a couple of seconds between them across the finishing line. The nine-hour bulletin, for instance, had Bell leading Ludwig by 0.4 sec. On the 10-hour bulletin the Englishman was 0.2 sec ahead, and the German would complain that things were getting rough out there, his car peppered with stones and debris as Bell slid wide out of the corners. It was more like a 10-lapper at Brands Hatch! Bell said that his screen was covered in oil: “When they cleaned it at a pit stop, it was like having another pair of lights.”
This Titanic duel came to an end when Jo Gartner, the likeable Austrian driver, crashed the Kremer brothers’ Kenwood sponsored Porsche 962C on the Mulsanne Straight and died immediately of a broken neck. The black car, making up places after a rear suspension rebuild, suddenly veered left at a speed approaching 200 mph, just before Hunaudiere, and hurtled from the barrier across the track, catching fire on the right after felling a concrete telegraph pole.
Le Mans, Pays de la Loire
Temporary road course
Klaus Ludwig (Porsche 956B), 3m23.3, 148.852 mph, Sports Cars, 1986
First Race1911 Unofficial French Grand Prix