LE MANS 24 HOURS 1926

12th - 13th June

41 starters 13 finishers

This year, pits, race control etc were back on their original site of Les Raineries. Peugeot's debut compensated for the absence of the Chenard et Walckers. More Americans in the shape of a Willys - Knight and 2 Overlands (only one of which started). The O. M. s were again present and W. O Bentley had added a short chassis Super Sport to his 2 Speed Six models.

Right from the start which was given by Emile Coquille, the race developed into a battle between Peugeot, Bentley and Lorraine Dietrich with Boillot setting the pace. When the time came to lower the hoods the order was Boillot in his Peugeot followed by Bloch, Lorraine Dietrich and Clment, Bentley all on the sarne lap. Clement attacked and passed his 2 rivals, but ended up in the sand at Mulsanne. In the early morning, decimation'amomg the leaders as the Duff - Clement Bentley retired (blown valve) while the BoIllot - Rigal Peugeot was disqualified (defective windscreen pillar). The public mared their disapproval of this.

The second Peugeot of Wagner - Dauvergne also went out (broken starter) and with Laly's Aries also gone, there remained but a single Bentley to contest the Lorraine Dietrich supremacy. Alas, at 15h30 on Sunday afternoon, Davis with no brakes left skated into the sand at Mulsanne leaving the way open for a French treble. While the De Courcelles - Rossignol car was the overall distance winner, 8 months were to elapse before the victor of the Index of Performance would be known. It was an O. M by a tiny margin.

CIRCUIT :

17, 262 kms. The national 158 which formed the "Les Hunaudieres" straight was resurfaced, and the local county council took advantage of this to experiment with 3 different sorts of coatings. An agreement was found with the residents and the pit installations, race control etc returned to Les Raineries (where they remain to this day). Concrete tribunes were erected : the pits were extended and public spectator endosures equipped with water hydrants were created. The capacity of the car parks was increased to 3000 places. The pit area now had permanent lighting between 20HOO and 6HOO.

REGUlATIONS:

Average speeds and set distances increased. Creation of an Equivalence class called 'Index of Performance"

STARTERS:

41 cars 4 nations 17 makes

France : 4 Aries, 1 Bignan, 3 Corre la Licomes, 3 E. H. P. s (Ets Henri Pedoux), 2 Georges Irats, 2 J oussets, 3 Lorraine Dietrichs, 2 Peugeots, 3 Ravels, 3 Rolland Pilains, 3 Salmsons, 2 S. A. R A. s (Ste des Aurtomobiles a Refroidissement par Air), 2 Theo - Schneiders.

Great Britain : 3 Bentleys

ItaIy : 3 O. M. s (Officine Mecanische) United States of America : 1 Overland, 1 WilIys Knight.

Makes, first appearance :

Drivers, first appearance :

SUMMARY:

Withdrawal of one of the Overlands following a practice accident. Also absent was the Chenard et Walcker team which had gone to race in pastures new (Belgium and Spain). First appearance of sleeveless valve engines (Peugeot and Willys Knight). In spite of the track resurfacing, the stones Jousset : pierced radiator, Corre la Licorne : pierced sump) , the mud (accident of a Rolland Pilain) and above all the protective sand (delay and then elimination of 2 Bentleys) helped to decimate a field already hit by retirements due to the increased rigour of the Stewards. After the 2 Peugeots, an O. M was also disqualified for carrying out repairs in a forbidden zone (Les Hunaudieres). Because of not wearing protective helmets both Duller and Mongin had to pay a 200 franc fine. The Aries team was also in the wars with a fire eliminating the Flohot - Duray car, a blocked starter the Laly - Chassagne model and an accident for Delano - Closset. The only finisher was the veteran pairing of Gabriel - Paris but in last place! The Willys Knight, the largest cubic capacity car entered, was eliminated on the second lap by a ruptured fuel line. Its future associate, the 2.8 litre Overland, was the last of the debutants to retire going out on Sunday afternoon. The O. M. s again demonstrated their reliability finishing in fifth and sixth places as in 1925! However, in 12 months they improved the distances covered by 267, 168 and 201, 887 kms respectively. Thus, they sandwiched the Lorraine in the Index of Performance.

RECORDS:

Second consecutive victory for Lorraine Dietrich and Andre Rossignol. First treble in the history of the race for the 6 cylinder Lorraine Dietrichs all 3 of which averaged more than 100 km/h. First Boillot, then Laly shattered the lap record but de Courcelles in his Lorraine had the final say with a lap in 9'03", a speed of 114, 444 km/h. Seven out of the 13 classified finishers exceeded the 2000 km mark.

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Author: ArchitectPage