LE MANS 24 HOURS 1974

15th - 16th June

49 starters 20 classified finishers

No works Ferraris, the Scuderia being represented by just a few Daytonas, a single 312 P Spyder of 1969 vintage entered by NART and a rear - engined 3 litre V8 Dino. As Alfa Romeo, quickest in the April tests, again withdrew at the last minute, the race looked like a Matra walk - overor and true to form, the team managed by Jean - Luc Lagardere gained its third successive victory as did Henri Pescarolo equalling the feat of Woolf Bamato and Olivier Gendebien. For Larrousse too it was his second consecutive win on the Sarthe circuit. It was not an untroubled success as the 670Bs with re - designed suspension and the completely new water - cooled 680 with twin side radiators instead of the single frontal one, met several problems. Their domination was strongly challenged by Porsche which re - introduced supercharging in the shape of the 2 works RSRs with turbo - charged 2.142litre engines (2999 ccs in corrected figures) that bore little resemblance to the 15 catalogue models entered in the Grand Touring category. This was won for the third consecutive year by a Daytona, both Chevrolet and De Tomaso never being in a challenging position. Only one of the 2 litre cars, driven by a 100% ladies' team("Christine" - Fontaine - Laurent), finished, a long way down the field. No works cars in the Special Touring category, just a couple of private BMWs and a Ford Capri, the Bavarian make triumphing. The start was given by Mr. Olivier Guichard, the minister for industry.

CIRCUIT :

Unchanged 13.640 km layout.

REGUIATIONS :

Qualification minima for everybody : 133% of the average speed of the 3 fastest drivers of the 3 quickest cars of 3 different makes. New qua!ification procedure required : starting with a full fuel tank, 20 laps of the circuit had to be covered.

STARTERS :

49 cars 6 nations 14 makes

France : 1 Grac, 2 Ugiers, 4 Matras. Germany : 2 B. M. W. s, 22 Porsches.

Great Britain : 2 Chevrons, 1 de Cadenet, 2 Mirages, 2 Lolas.

Italy : 1 De Tomaso, 7 Ferraris.

Japan : 1 Sigma.

United States of America : 1 Chevrolet, 1 Ford

SUMMARY:

A broken arm put Alain de Cadenet out of action even before scrutineering began! Thus, the De Cadenet, in fact the re - named and reinvigorated Duckhams, was entrusted to Chris Craft and John Nicholson. The MS 680 Matra had a new cooling circuit with two side - mounted water radiators instead of the single one at the front. The 670s had new rear suspension. This race saw the debut of the 3 litre V8 Dino with a rear - mounted engine. Henri Pescarolo, quickest in practice, took a lead at flag - fall he was never to lose. As the Mirages ran into trouble with Schuppan stopping almost ímmediately everything pointed to a Matra triumph. However, the first hiccup in the French camp came at 19h30 when the ever impetuous Jarier hit a Porsche in the pitlane. Then at midnight, the second - placed Matra of Jabouille - Wollek retired just 6 minutes before the Jarier - Beltoise entry. In both cases the V12 overheated and the same malady struck the 670B of Jabouille and Migault putting the Matra camp in a state of acute constemation. Up front, Pescarolo and Larrousse had an 11 lap lead on Sunday morning when suddenly the 1972/73 winner found himself stranded on Les Hunaudieres with broken synchromesh in the gearbox. Pesca managed to bring no. 7 back to the pits where it lost three - quarters of an hour for repairs. Thus, the blue car's lead over the van Lennep - Muller Porsche turbo had shrunk to just 3 minutes. Fortunately for French hopes the German car ran into steering, transmission and gearbox troubles and at the chequered flag, the gap had stretched out to 6 lap so It was a fitting end to Matra's Le Mans participation. In the GT category, a Daytona won for the third year running thanks to the Ferrari France entry of Grandet - "Bardini" which in addition, headed the Thermal Efficiency Index. The twinrotor Mazda still installed in the Sigma did a little better by making it to the finish but was non - classified due to insufficient distance covered.

RECORDS :

None as the Matra drivers were never really challenged. Thus Pescarolo and Larrousse covered fewer kilometres in 1974 than the winning Matra in 1972 Jarier's fastest lap in 3'42"7 was just over 3 seconds slower than Cevert's effort in 1973 (3'39"6).Author: ArchitectPage