23rd - 24th June60 starters 29 classified finishers
Faced with the newly developed XK 120 C Jaguars the Talbots began to show their age. The English cars were powered by a 6 cylinder engine putting out over 200 bhp, specially prepared by Harry Weslake. In addition, it had a tubular chassis and a streamlined body designed by a recent Coventry recruit called Malcolm Sayer. If Gonzalez big Talbot led for the first 3 laps the Jaguars then went ahead with Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead finally winning at over 150 km/h, the first time that this figure had been exceeded on the Sarthe circuit (in spite of the rain! ). Indeed, the first 3 cars all beat the 1950 records. All the Aston Martins made it to the finish winning their class (2001 to 3000 ccs). First appearance of a name that was to become synonymous with Le Mans, Porsche, which also won its class (751 to 1100 ccs). The 614 cc Panhard powered Monopole of De Montremy - Hemard won the Index of Performance for the second year running. Three of the four works Renault 4 CVs were classified to the great joy of Pierre Lefaucheux, the boss of the R. N. U. R (Renault company). Disappointment for Cunningham as only one of the 5400 cc V8 Chrysler "Powerfire" engined C - 2R spyders made it to the chequered flag. The start was given by Viscount de Rohan, the C. S. I. President.
Unchanged in relation to the past 2 years
Creation of a list of 8 reserves to fill the gaps left by last - minute withdrawals. An attempt to make a few people happy as the reserves could always hope for a last minute miracle!
60 cars 6 nations 24 makes
Czechslovakia : 1 Aero Minor.
France: 1 Callista, 1 Delahaye, 1 Delettrez, 3 D. B. s, 1 Monopole, 1 Panhard, 6 Renaults, 4 Simcas, 6 Talbots.
Germany: 1 Porsche
Great Britain: 2 Allards, 5 Aston Martins, 1 Bentley, 2 Frazer Nashes, 4 Jaguars, 3 Jowetts, 1 Healey, 1 M. G. , 1 Riley.
Italy: 9 Ferraris, 1 Lancia.
U. S. A : 3 Cunninghams, 1 Crosley.
Makes, first appearance:
Drivers, first appearance:
SUMMARY:This year saw the real debut of the Cunninghams at Le Mans, the 3 C - 2R spyders being powered by a "Powerfire" 5400 cc V8 Chrysler engine said to give some 250 bhp. Allard on the other hand, remained faithful to the V8 Cadillac. In addition to Porsche, Lancia was making its first appearance in the shape of a 2 litre V6 model while the German car had a more modest air cooled flat 4 cylinder 1086 cc power unit. The Bonnet - Bayol D. B was fitted with a new flat - twin 851 cc engine. The 1500 cc Simcas of the Gordini team all had twin overhead camshafts. The DB 2 Aston Martins had been lightened and their power output had gone up to around 140 bhp, thanks in part to the use of Weber carburettors. Enveloping bodywork was fitted to the Jowett Jupiters. Also making their Le Mans debut were the 212 Export and 340 America Ferraris. The only MG present was fitted with streamlined bodywork specially designed for it by Sydney Enever. The Crosley excited a lot of curiosity and was indeed American but powered by a little 4 cylinder 726 cc engine. Finally, the six 4 CV Renaults were of the 1063 type (42 bhp engine). The race was hit by bad weather and the track, varying from damp to soaked, caused many problems for the competitors. The unfortunate Jean Lariviere was the victim of a fatal accident on the entry to Les Hunaudieres at 16h31. Gonzalez did not seem unduly bothered and took the lead at the wheel of his Talbot. Not for long however as Stirling Moss quickly hit the front at a speed that left his rivals breathless! By 20HOO the 3 Jaguars were in the first 3 places. Night saw the hopes of Fangio - Rosier and Gonzalez Marimon dashed and even if Jaguar lost the Moss - Fairman and Johnson - Biondetti cars (due to lack of oil pressure caused by a fractured copper delivery pipe in the sump), the Coventry marque scored the first of its 7 Le Mans victories. The only opposition came from the single - surviving Cunningham which held onto second for a long time before hitting trouble on Sunday morning and slipping down the field to 18th place. In spite of their out - dated design the Talbots managed to finish in second and fourth places but the Meyrat - Mairesse car, although much faster than that of the victorious Rosier family in 1950, still conceded 125 kms, almost an hour to the Walker - Whitehead XK 120 C. Four out of the 9 Ferraris made it to the chequered flag, one driven by Mrs Betty Haigh and Mrs Yvonne Simon marking the return of an all - ladies team to Le Mans. There were long faces in the Simca camp as all 4 cars retired putting an end to the association with Gordini.
RECORDS:In spite of 16 hours of rain all existing records were beaten. Stirling Moss took only 4'46"8 to cover the 13, 492 km circuit, an average speed of 169,356 km/h, some 6. 7 seconds fewer than Louis Rosier in 1950. At the chequered flag, Walker and Whitehead had exceeded the 3500 km and 150 km/h barriers (exactly 3611,193 kms, and 150, 466 km/h), and covered 146, 073 kms more than the winning Talbot in 1950.
Sports Car Races