9th - 10th June
55 starters 21 classified finishers
Several detllil improvements to the 13.640 km layout and creation of a new spectator zone at Maison Blanche.
No reserve list as the A. C. O preferred to choose its last "guests" from among the best performances in the Le Mans 4 Hour race which finished off the April test weekend.
55 cars 6 nations 13 makes
France : 3 Ligiers, 4 Matras.
Germany: 2 BMWs, 15 Porsches.
Great Britllin : 4 Chevrons, 1 Duckhams, 3 Lolas, 2 Mirages.
ltaly : 1 Alfa Romeo, 12 Ferraris.
Japan : 1 Sigma
United States 01 America : 3 Chevrolets, 3 Fords.
Makes, first appearance :
Drivers, first appearance :
The Merzario - Pace 312 PB Ferrari confirmed its pole position by leading lor Ihe first 2 hours belore letting Matra ahead because 01 a fuel leak problem. British hopes were quickly dampened as the Duckhams stopped after 2 laps with Ihe bodywork breaking away from its mountings, a problem that was to haunt the car until its retirement some 13 hours later. Also in the first hour Hailwood carne in with a clutch problem on the Mirage which lost him a lap. A worse blow to the Mirage team carne just belore the end of the second hour, when Bel! pitted in no. 8 to report Ihat he had no gears except fifth. The whole box had to be rebuilt which took over 3 hours. The Scuderia suffered anolher blow when Pace carne into the pits with a split seat fuel tank which took 6 laps to repajr. Up front, Beltoise - Cevert then Depailler-Wollek kept the shrieking Matras in the lead before being slowed by engine problems allied to thrown tyre treads. The French tearn then had a major setback when the Depailler - Wollek 670 retired just after 22H00 wilh a seized engine. This allowed Italy in the form of the Reutemann - Schenken Ferrari to take up the running again. Just after midnight, the Mirage team lost their leading runner when the third placed Watson - Hailwood - Schuppan car crashed wilh the Australian at the wheel. An early morning engine failure put paid to Ihe leading 312 PB's chances and soon afterwards Beltoise hit the guardrail on Les Hunaudieres due to tyre lailure putting him out of the race. When morning broke over the Sarthe another Ferrari driven by Ickx and Redman was in front ahead of the Pescarolo - Larrousse Matra. There was more suspense to come as around 11H00, exhaust problems brought the Ferrari into the pits allowing the Matra ahead. French cheers soon turned to groans as a blocked starter on the French car an hour later, allowed the Ferrari to catch right up. Fate however, had not deaIt her final card and at 14H27, the screarn of fhe Ferrari was suddenly silenced when the engine gave up the ghost opening the way for a French victory. In the GT category, Ballot - Lena the 1972 winner overcame the Porsches of which one of the Martini entries with sports bodywork finished lourth. There were no survivors in the 2 litre sports category while the Hezemans - Quester BMW was the only touring car to make it to the chequered flag.
RECORDS :The lastest lap was set by Francois Cevert in 3'39"6, a speed of 223, 607 km/h, almost 8 seconds quicker than the 1972 figure. Thanks to the dry conditions, the winning Matra covered 162 kms more than in 1972 setting new speed and distance records for the circuit, 4853.945 kms and 202.247 km/h, respectively.
Sports Car Races