LE MANS 24 HOURS 1976

12th - 13th June

55 starters 24 classified finishers

Having absorbed the lessons of the previous year's setback, the A C. O widened the event's appeal to runners from many different horizons including IMSA and NASCAR. Porsche however were firm favourites for victory in Groups 5 and 6. In contrast, the singleton Alpine - Renault (also turbocharged) was there on a reconnaissance mission. Van Lennep's and Ickx's experience laid the foundations of Porsche's victory, the Belgian's second consecutive success putting him in the triple winners' category with Barnato, Chinetti, Phil Hill and Henri Pescarolo. Cosworth power in the shape of Mirage and Lola respectively filled the runner - up placings. BMW disappointed while bolh Inalteras, a new French make, team - managed by Jean Rondeau saw the chequered flag. Porsche again dominated all the categories where the make was represented. A sad sign of the times was the absence for the first year sínce 1949 of Ferrari. Guest of honour, Bill France Jr, Race Director of Daytona and son of the NASCAR founder, gave the start.

CIRCUIT :

13.640 layout. Scrutineering was transferred back to the Place des Jacobins in the centre of the town of Le Mans.

REGULATIONS :

Fuel consumption liberalised. 7 types of car allowed to start. The two - seater Group VI cars had a maximum cubic capacity of 3 or 5 litres depending on whether their engine was considered as a purpose - built radng unit or derived from series production. The special production cars (Group V), the grand touring models (Group IV), IMSA GTs and NASCAR vehicles had to comply with their respective American race regulations ; Production Grand Touring cars with theirs, and Grand Touring Prototypes with specifications defined by the A C. O. The qualifying minima were reduced from 133 to 125%. AlI repairs were allowed except changing the block, cylinderheads, the sump or parts of the gearbox casing. 16 laps minimum between oil changes. Creation of 4 general intermediary classifications every 6 hours. Organisation of the Le Mans Daytona challenge.

 

STARTERS

55 cars 7 nations 16 makes

France : 2 lnalteras, 1 Renault - Alpine, 1 W. M.

Germany: 7 BMWs, 26 Porsches.

Great Britain : 3 Chevrons, 1 De Cadenet, 1

Lenharn, 4 Lolas, 2 Mirages.                                      .

Italy : 1 Landa.

Japan: 1 Datsun.

Switzerland : 1 Cheetah.

United States : 2 Chevrolets, 1 Dodge, 1 Ford.

SUMMARY :

The Alpine - Renault, fastest in practice, took an early lead Ihat was destined to be short lived as soon the Porsche 936s of Ickx - van Lennep and Joest -,Barth took up the running. The American contingent was almost immediately in trouble wilh the Dodge Charger stopping at Mulsanne on the first lap while the Chevrolet Monza retired at the end of the third hour. The beautifully painted Greenwood Corvette was the next American to go. Tragedy struck when the Frenchman, Andre Haller, lost his life on the exit from the Les Hunaudieres kink. Up front, the Porsches continued on their merry way until at 7H00 on Sunday morning the Barth - Joest car carne into the pits for a terminal stop. As the Alpine - Renault had already gone out just before half - distance, Mirage was the only tearn capable of profiting from German misfortune. They too were in trouble from the excessive vibrations of the V8 Cosworth. De Cadenet and Craft's efforts at the wheel of the dark - green Lola were rewarded by a place on the last rung of the rostrum, only a little over a lap behind Ihe second - placed Mirage which lost its bonnet a few minutes from the end. Porsche domination ensured Ihat the 1976 race did not leave any imperishable traces in the spectators memories. Finally, another name Ihat was to become closely assodated with Le Mans made its debut, the W. M with V6 Peugeot power.

RECORDS :

Given the lack of a real struggle for victory, the 1973 figures were not beaten. Fastest lap fell to Jabouille in 3'43"0, a speed of 220, 197 km/h. Over Ihe 24 hours the winning 936 covered 4769, 923 kms, some 84, 022 fewer than \!he victorious Matra in 1973.

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Author: ArchitectPage