LE MANS 24 HOURS 1973

9th - 10th June

55 starters 21 classified finishers

A Gala atmosphere prevailed in Ihe Sarthe to celebrate Ihe 501h anniversary of the creation of the Le Mans 24 Hour race, wilh the prospect of a sumptuous duel between Matra and the works Ferraris. Alfa Romeo cried off at the last moment but was represented by the Scuderia Brescia Corse 33 TT12. Four Matras, three 670Bs with modified bodywork and a 1972 type 670, were lined up against three long - tailed 312 PBs. The outsiders consisted of the two M6 Mirages and the T 282 Lola of Scuderia Filipinetti all powered by the faithful 3 litre V8 Cosworth. The race lived up to its promise and kept the large crowd on tetherhooks as the winner was not decided until only 90 minutes from the end. lt was a double for French drivers and for Henri Pescarolo. lt was also the first time that a 100% Japanese car was at the start, a Sigma powered by a twin rotor Mazda engine. Ferrari's honour was saved through victory in the GT category by one of the 2 Daytonas entered by the French Ferrari importer, Charles Pozzi, while B. M. W snatched victory in the Touring Car category from Ford. The start was given by Mr. Sylvajn Floriat, the Matra chairman.

CIRCUIT :

Several detllil improvements to the 13.640 km layout and creation of a new spectator zone at Maison Blanche.

REGULATIONS :

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.

STARTERS

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 :

SUMMARY:

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.

back to index

Sports Car Races

Targa Florio 1963

Sebring 1966

Stardust GP 1968

Le Mans 1930

Le Mans 1949

Le Mans 1950

Le Mans 1951

Le Mans 1952

Le Mans 1953

Le Mans 1954

Le Mans 1955

Le Mans 1956

Le Mans 1957

Le Mans 1958

Le Mans 1959

Le Mans 1960

Le Mans 1961

Le Mans 1962

Le Mans 1963

Le Mans 1964

Author: ArchitectPage