15th -16th June49 starters 13 classified finishers
Tiumph for Ferrari with 6 cars in the first 6 places, victory in the GT category and Index of Performance. First ever success of a 100% Italian carl driver combination and first ever victory of a rear - engined car in the Le Mans 24 Hour race. First appearance of a turbine at Le Mans in the form of the Rover powered B. R. M . In it, Graham Hill and Richie Ginther, the B.R.M. Fl works drivers, covered 572, 900 kilo metres more than the 3600 kms set by the AC O. thus winning a bonus of 25. 000 francs. The car carried the number 00 and was not included in the general classification due to non - regulation fuel tanks to cope with its excessive thirst. Its performance was equivalent to a seventh place. The beautifully - made GT Lola powered by the 4.7 litre Ford engine (as were the 2 A C. Cobras) prefigured the coming assault of the American giant from Dearborn. One of the two A. C. s entered, no. 3, had Stirling Moss as team manager. French honour was saved by the victory of the Rene Bonnet in the Thermal Efficiency Index. The 215, 390 km gap between first and second was a record for the post - war period. Both Ferrari and Lotus (under 2litres) came away with maximum points in the World Championship GT categories. A race marked by many accidents one of them fatal. The start was given by Count Adelin de Liedekerke - Beaufort, President of the Automobile Club de France.
CIRCUIT :13:461 km layout.
Minimum weight of the experimental cars varied according to cubic capacity which was now unlimited. Coefficient for supercharged cars increased from 1. 2 to 1. 4. Starting positions now allocated according to practice times rather than cubic capacity. Water and oil refuelling allowed separately but the 25 lap minimum was still maintained. Rollbar height increased from 80 to 85 cms. Index of Performance calculations changed. Wearing of seat belts recommended.
49 cars 4 nations 19 makes
France: 3 Alpines, 1 C. D. , 5 Rene Bonnets. Germany: 4 Porsches.
Great Britain: 2 A. C Cobras, 4 Aston Martins, 1 Austin Healey, 1 Deep Sanderson, 3 Jaguars, 1 Lister, 1 Lola, 2 Lotuses, 1 M. G., 1 Rover B. R. M, 2 Sunbeams.
Italy: 3 Alfa Romeos, , 11 Ferraris, 2 Fiat Abarths, 1 Maserati. Makes,firstappearance:Drivers, first appearance:
Leniency was the A. C. O. 's watchword at scrutineering in order to have the maximum number of cars at the start. The Lola Ford GT was delayed by bad weather in the channel, and did not arrive at Le Mans until Thursday morning for scrutineering which had officially closed at 18HOO on Wednesday. Never the less, it was examined but was found illegal on many points notably obstructed rear vision due to the carburettor intakes cover. This had to be cut down and intakes made in each side of the body. The work was done in the paddock by Lola mechanics under the eagle eyes of the scrutineers. The 3 works 250 P Ferraris all carried wire netting in the passenger's seat in case they went into the sand banks.
However, it was Pedro Rodriguez in an older front - engined TR 330 who set pole position time in practice. He was passed by Andre Simon on the first lap and the French entered Maserati led for 2 hours before falling victim to transmission problems. The Surtees - Mairesse Ferrari then took up the running, the race resolving itself into a duel between the Scuderia's drivers. The 215 prototype Aston Martin went out towards the end of the second hour, and another Aston, McLaren's DB 4, had its engine explode in the kink on Les Hunaudieres at 21HOO bathing the surface in oil. Off the track went Kerguen (Aston Martin), Salvadori Jaguar), Manzon (Rene Bonnet) and Heinz who was burned to death in his Alpine. Shortly afterwards, Penske's Ferrari (in third place), Tavono (Ferrari GTO), and Bonnier Porsche (718/8) crashed. In addition, Bob Olthoff (Austin Healey Sprite) went off at Maison Blanche injuring himself quite seriously. At midnight, there were 5 Ferraris in the first 5 places. The remaining DB 4 GT Aston Martin of Kimberley - Schlesser which had been running as high as third retired during the eleventh hour with a blown engine. The Lola Ford crashed out in the Esses in the early hours of the morning after occupying eight place for 2 hours in spite of a deficient dynamo. The accident was caused by gearbox problems. The course of the race was modified by another accident at 10hOO on Sunday morning. Just after refuelling the leading Ferrari crashed when fuel leaked from an - over filled tank and the car caught fire.Burned on the forearm Mairesse went off at Tertre Rouge. This left Scarfiotti and Bandini with a lead of more than 200 kms over their nearest challenger, a 250 GTO, while the first non - Ferrari, an A. C Cobra, had conceded almost double that figure. There were class wins for both Jaguar and Lotus.
RECORDS:Ferrari shattered all the existing ones, distance 4561, 710 kms, average speed 190.071 , and fastest lap, John Surtees in 3'53"3, 207, 714 km/h some 3 seconds quicker than Phil Hill the previous year.
Sports Car Races