LE MANS 24 HOURS 1977

11th - 12th June

55 starters 20 finishers

This time the Porsche - Renault duellived up to its promise with no fewer than 7 Renault engined cars, 5 Alpines (including an A 310) and 2 Mirages, aligned against abrace of works 936s and a montrously powerful and thirsty 935. lf Porsche finally emerged victorious, the race bore no resemblance to that of 1976. Ickx's victory allowed him to equal the record of his fellow - countryman, Olivier Gendebien. In addition , he won with a car other than the one he started in. There were multiple upsets among the leaders and it was a very sick and smoky 936 that took the chequered flag. Renault's honour was saved by the second place of the Jarier - Schuppan Mirage while the Ballot - Lena - Gregg Porsche 935 won the Group 5 award. Fourth carne an Inaltera winning the GTP class. The start was given by Mr. Pierre Ugeux, President of the Commission Sportive Internationale (soon to become the FISA).

CIRCUIT :

13.640 km layout.

REGULATIONS :

The qualification minima went back to 133%. The interrnediary classifications were maintained and now christened 'Osears". The Therrnal Effleiency Index was resuscilated. The exclusion regulations were less severe. The GTP regulations were modified (fuel tank capacity, weight scale etc. .).

STARTERS :

55 cars 5 nations 15 makes

France : 3 Inalteras, 5 Renault - Alpines, 2 W. M.s.

Gerrnany: 4 BMWs, 25 Porsehes.

Great Britain : 1 Aston Martin, 3 Chevrons, 1 De Cadenet, 4 Lolas, 2 Mirages.

ltaly : 1 Ferrari, 1 Landa, 1 Osella. Switzerland : 1 Cheetah, 1 Sauber.

SUMMARY :

lf the main interest lay in the anticipated duel between the Regie RenauIt and Porsehe, a famous British name, Aston Martin, was making a return to the Sarthe. In fact, the car only got into the race thanks to the withdrawal of a Porsehe on Saturday morning. On the first lap Renault lost one of their ears when the Pironi - Arnoux A 442 caught fire. The opening laps saw the faetory 935 with Rolf Stommelen at the wheel carry the battle to the Freneh cars while the 936s played wait and see. Their hopes took a dive in the early evening whcn the Ickx - Pesearolo car went out with a broken conrod. Ickx was then commandered to help the Barth - Heywood 936 down in 49th place after ignition problems. Thus began one of the legendary Le Mans come - backs. In a series of consecutive night - time stints, shattering the lap record time after time, tbe Belgian brought the Porsche up to second place by 5h00 on Sunday morning right on the heels of the leading Alpine of Jabouille and Bell. Renault had lost 2 more contenders as both Tambay and Jassaud's A 442 and tbe Posey - Leclerc Mirage had gone out. Thus, in tbe first 5 positions were, Renault, Porsehe, Renault, Porsehe 935(private) and the Mirage Renault. More upsets were to come in a nailbiting final 8 hours. First out was Jabouille (with piston failure which eliminated 3 of the works cars) at around 9H30 followed by Depailler and Hezemans (porsehe 935), and then the leading 936 carne into the pits in the early afternoon with smoke billowing from its engine due to a blown piston. The Gerrnan engineers managed to block off the affected cylinder and with 17 laps lead , all the car had to do was to complete 2 laps as required by the regs. Thus at 15H55, the by now smoke - stained 936 went back out on to tbe track in the hands of Jurgen Barth and did the necessary to give Stuttgart their fourth vietory. Inaltera again triumphed in the GTP Category thanks to Jean Ragnotti and Jean Rondeau while the Aston Martin rumbled round to a 17th place finish and a class victory (over 5000 ccs). Chevron triumphed in the Therrnal Effleeney Index.

RECORDS :

Ickx completely shattered the lap record during the night, his final time of 3'36"5, a speed of 226.808 km/h, being just over 3 seconds faster than Cevert's 1973 figure. However, no changes in the distance and average speed figures as Ickx - Barth and Heywood were well down on those of the winning Matra in 1973.

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Author: ArchitectPage