25th - 26th June
49 starters 19 classified finishers49 cars came under starters orders for the first post - war 24 Hour race. The car industry in general and motor sport in particular, benefitted from patronage at the highest level. Thankfully so, as, due to the decade lost, the field was made up of well tried and tested vehicles and some new models. And it was the new which finally triumphed as the V12 Ferrari won its first major international victory. There was glory for Frazer Nash in the form of Culpan and Hadington's third place, but tragedy for Aston Martin with the death of Pierre Marechal just one hour from the chequered flag when he was battling for second position. The honour of the French motor industry was saved by the Delages which came home in second ~and fourth places. Just a single lady driver at the start, the pilot Vivianne Elder (Simca). All the pre - war records remained unbeaten! Christian Pineau, the transport and public works minister, gave the start while Vincent Auriol, the President of the Republic, was there for the finish.
13, 492 kms. Layout unchanged but stands (5 in number), pits, administration buildings, hospitality village, track surface were all new.
Published on 29th December 1948. Accepted just about everything that moved on four wheels including "Exceptionally, and in order to contribute to a quicker revival of car construction, any prototype provided that it has been checked by the "Service des Mines" for any French constructor or corresponding foreign equivalent" (article 5 - para. 6)
Simultaneous refuelling in water, oil and fuel with a minimum interval of 25 laps. Fuels allowed: petrol complying with touring car requirements (octane index of 68), diesel complying with the ministerial decree of 5th February 1947 and ternary fuel made up of 60% of pure super, 25% ethanol and 15% h benzol 90. Priority given to competitors/ constructors qualified in 1939 for the 15th Rudge Whitworth Biennial Cup which allowed in thirteen cars, 3 for Amedee Gordini and 1 for Lagonda Automobiles, JP Wimille, Ecurie Watney, Lord Selsdon, Mrs Trevelyan, Count Haden, Ecurie du Lapin Blanc, R. Hitchens, ]. Chotard and A. W. Jones.
49 cars 4 nations 14 makes
France: 4 Delages, 7 Delahayes, 1 Delettrez, 2 D. B. s, 2 Monopoles, 1 Renault, 9 Simcas, 3 Talbots.
Great Britain: 6 Aston Martins, 1 Alvis, 1 Bentley, 1 Frazer Nash, 3 H. R. G. s, 1 Healey, 1 M. G. , 1 Riley, 1 Singer.
Italy: 2 Ferraris.
Czech slovakia : 2 Aero - Minors.
Makes, first appearance:
Drivers, first appearance:
SUMMARY:The majority of the entries were private ones including the Deletrez powered by a diesel engine, the first ever appearance of this type of propulsion at Le Mans. the Aero - Minors
had twin cylinder 745 cc engines. Le Mans debut for Ferrari with the two V12 166 MMs. Renault, in spite of the opposition of its management. also made its debut as Camille Hardy, a miller from the Beauce region, entered his own private 4 CV, also the first ever rear - engined car to compete in the race. Another innovation was the car/pit radio liaison in the Mahe - Crovetto Simca 8.
The entries of the three 1500 cc Simcas prepared by Amedee Gordini which arrived by road just a few seconds before the start, were refused. The Delahaye domination lasted only 4 hours as Chaboud's 4. 5 litre version caught fire at Mulsanne while the engine in Simon's ran out of steam. Ferrari then took up the running but the Dreyfus Lucas car did not fully profit from their position as leader as Pierre - Louis Dreyfus overturned his 166 MM just before 22hOO near Maison Blanche. Vallee - Mairesse then took the lead briefly but Luigi Chinetti who had not had himself relayed since the start quickly went into the lead in his Ferrari. He stayed behind the wheel until 04-26 in the morning before handing over to his team mate, Lord Selsdon, who finished his one and only stint at 5H38! A little later he hit the brushwood fencing to avoid the Morel Chambas Talbot coupe. The chassis, lighting and coachwork had to be repaired but even so, the quick Italian car managed to conserve a lap's advantage over the Louveau - Jover Delage which was slowed in the closing laps by plug problems. This was Ferrari's first major international victory and the Italian, car did the double on its first Le Mans appearance as it also won the Index of Performance, a feat the make was to repeat twice more (1963 and 1964). Both of the little twin cylinder 745 cc Aero - Minors saw the chequered flag.
Fastest lap: Simon (Delahaye) in 5'12"5 : (155, 427 km/h). This just failed to beat the circuit record set in 1939 by Mazaud (Delahaye) in 5'12"1, a speed of 155, 627 km/h.No new distance record either as Chinetti -Selsdon covered 3178, 299 kms as opposed to the 3354, 760 kms of Wimille - Veyron (Bugatti) in 1939.
Sports Car Races