From Spa to Le Mans: Olivier Gendebien's Triumphs on the Racing Circuit

Ferrari’s greatest sports car driver enjoyed remarkable success in his short career. Damien Smith examines the record of Olivier Gendebien

Olivier Gendebien

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Taken from Motor sport online September 2020

Before there was Jacky Ickx, there was Olivier Gendebien. Which of Belgium’s most successful racing drivers was the best? The easy answer is to jump straight to the younger man and his six Le Mans wins and eight grand prix victories. But even Ickx wasn’t as prolifically successful in sports cars as 2020 Motor Sport Hall of Fame nominee Gendebien managed in an astonishing run of success between 1957 and ’62.

In his infamous book ‘My Terrible Joys’, Enzo Ferrari described his greatest sports car driver as “A gentleman who never forgets that noblesse oblige and, when he is at the wheel, he translates this code of behaviour into an elegant and discerning forcefulness.” Gendebien was a natural gentleman and an artist.