LE MANS 24 HOURS 1971

12th - 13th June

49 starters 13 classified finishers

No works Ferraris and a further demonstration of what a fabulous winning machine the 917 was as Marko and van Lennep broke all the existing records in spite of taking over the lead in the 13th hour only! Thirty - three Porsches among the 49 starters. The sports protos disappointed being beaten by a GT, the 365 GTB 4 Ferrari making its debut with a certain Luigi Chinetti Jr at the wheel. Mane Claude Beaumont became the first lady driver to start since Mrs Haig and Mrs Simon in 1951. The single Matra Simca managed to get as high as second before retiring. The JS 3 Ligier set some kind of record by spending 4 hours in the pits replacing a gearbox bearing Steve MacQueen, whose film on Le Mans had just come out and second in the 1971 Sebring race was the President of Honour, the start being given by the US ambassador in France, Mr. Watson.

CIRCUIT :

13.469 km layout. All the wattle fencing had now disappeared. The pit lane was separated from the track by a concrete wall necessitating a different type of start.

REGULATIONS :

New flying start procedure with the cars doing a lap behind the Clerk of the Course's car. Women again allowed, Mane Claude Beaumont being the only one to take advantage of this liberalisation.

STARTERS

49 cars 5 nations 6 makes France : 1 Ligier, 1 Matra. Gerrnany : 33 Porsches

Great Britain : 2 Lolas

ltaly: 10 Ferrans

United States of America : 2 Chevrolets Makes, first appearance

SUMMARY :

In the April test session (17/18 April) , ]ackie Oliver in the long - tailed Gulf 917 got round in 3'13"6, a speed of 250, 408 km/h hitting 382 km/h on Les Hunaudieres. Out of the eight 512 M Ferraris that started only the Penske - entered car in its beautiful dark blue livery was able to match the 917's speed, and managed to get as high as second before retiring at 21H00 with a blown engine. The race then tumed into a Martini/Gulf battIe with the initial advantage going to the latter. The first signs of trouble for the Gulf cars came when the Siffert - Bell long - tailed 917 which had led briefly, had the control box for the illuminated racing numbers fall off damaging the wiring. This was repaired but after 6 hours the left - hand rear hub bearings failed requiring repairs lasting more than an hour . The car tinally retired after 17 hours with a cracked crankcase. Exactly the same malady hit no. 18 driven by Rodriguez and Oliver which led for the tirst 11 hours. This time repairs took only 22 minutes but the car retired an hour later when an oil line burst wrecking the engine. Out during the night went the celebrated 917/20 known as the "Pink Pig" and the long - tailed Martini version of the 917 driven by Larrousse - Elford. The Juncadella - Vaccarella yellow 512 M Ferrari led briefly in the early morning before it suffered gearbox trouble. Thus, 2 short - tailed 917s fought it out for the rest of the race. At the 11 hour mark , the Gulf car of Muller and Attwood was ahead of Marko and van Lennep in the Martini 917 but Muller then carne into the pit with no gears entailing a gearbox rebuild. The car got going again after 37 minutes and was actually catching the eventual winners but ran out of time. Thus, the Martini 917 which had a special magnesium chassis gave Porsche their second Le Mans victory. After the retirement of the Matra MS 660 of Beltoise and Amon at 09hOO on Sunday moming, the classitication of the tirst 5 did not change. In the tinallaps, the 911 S ofToumoul- "Anselme" passed the only remaining sports prototype still running, the Swiss - entered 907 of Brun and Mattli. Apart from 3 Ferraris, all the tinishers were from Stuttgart. The tirst 2 in the overall classitication also tinished in that order in the Index of Performance. Both British cars retired early on.

RECORDS:

Jackie Oliver, with a lap in 3'18"4, a speed of 244.387 became the fastest man ever to lap the Le Mans circuit in the race itself up to that date. Helmut Marko's and Gij van Lennep's 5335.313 kms and 222.304 km/h remain the outright distance and speed records for any Le Mans circuit to this day.

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Author: ArchitectPage