LE MANS 24 HOURS 1981

13th - 14th June

55 starters 18 classified tinishers

Porsehe's sixth win, after a late entry, on a sun - drenehed Le Mans circuit was a more than appropriate birthday present to celebrate tbe thirtietb anniversary of their participation in the Le Mans 24 Hour race as well as the fiftieth of the creation of the eompany. It was also the start oí a Porsche domination that would last until 1988 Ickx's fifth Le Mans win gave him the title of victory recordman while Derek Bell increased his score to two. Second and third places were the best that the 1980 winner Jean Rondeau could do. The start was given by Jean - Marle Balestre, the FlSA President.

CIRCUIT : 13.626 layout.

REGULATIONS :

Creation of a new group, the C - 82 category, in anticipation of the regs in force from 1982 onwards. Group 6 cubic capacity was no longer limited to 3000 ccs. The IMSA Category was sub - divided into 4 groups, GTI, GTO, GTU and GTIC. There was a new type of selection with the 55 quickest cars in practice being chosen provided that they attained 130% of the average speed of the 3 fastest cars overall as well as 110% of tbe 3 quickest cars in their group. Fuel tanks limited to 120 litres.

STARTERS :

55 cars 7 nations 14 makes

Franee : 1 Renard Delmas, 5 Rondeaus, 4 WMs.

Germany: 6 BMWs, 18 Porsehes.

Great Britain : 2 De Cadenets, 1 Ibec, 4 Lolas.

Italy : 5 Ferraris, 4 Lancias.

Japan : 1 Dome, 2 Mazdas.

Switzerland : 1 ACR.

United States of Ameriea : 1 Chevrolet.

SUMMARY :

Return of a Porsehe 917 ten years after its last win the Sarthe. It was in fact a replica built by the Kremer Brotbers who bet on tbe relative sobriety of the 4.9 litre V12 engine as well as hoping that the legendary name would attraet sponsors. Notable driver debuts were those of Rally Champion, Walter Rohrl, triple NASCAR Champion, Cale Yarborough and Johnny Cecotto famous for his exploits on 2 wheels. Three Whittinotons Bill. Don and newcomer Dale.

The Renault turbo cup race was a historie curtain - raiser before the main event started at 15h00 due to elections. Another first was the neutralization of the race when Boulsen crashed his WM in the kink on Les Hunaudieres, an accident which cost tbe life of a marshal and injured 2 others. Tragedy struek again when lean - Louis Lafosse went off on tbe entry to Les Hunaudieres killing himself and injuring 2 marshals. Just after 18H00 the pace car was back out again after a collision between a Lancia and a WM. Up fronl tbe Ickx - Bell Porsehe 936/81 sailed on to an untroubled victory in spite of an engine that had never been tried in racing conditions before. It had originally been destined for tbe 1979 Indianapolis 500. This was not the case for the otber 936 of Mass - Haywood - Schuppan which met all kinds of problems and finished well down the field. The second and third places of tbe 2 Rondeaus and a GTI win (the third) were some compensation for tbe Freneh constructor who had hoped for a repeat of his 1980 exploit. In fact, tbe gap of 186 kms between lckx and Bell and the second - placed car of Haran - Streiff - Schlesser was tbe third largest in the race's history. Porsehe's success was rounded off by wins in Groups 4 and 5 as well as in IMSA GTO while Lancia won tbe Group 5 eategory consolidating their lead in the world championship. Afine fifth place and win in the IMSA GTIC category fell to tbe Andruet - Ballot Lena Ferrari. Finally, Guy Edwards managed to bring his Lola T 600 home in a lowly 15th spot, the only other Group 6 finisher.

RECORDS :

Hurley Haywood Porsehe 936/81 set a new lap record in 3'34"0, 229, 231 km/h while Jacky lckx and Derek Bell set new distanee and average speed reeords with 4825.348 kms at 201.065 km/h. In practice, the Belgian got round in 3'29"44, a speed of 234.213 km/h, a new unofficial lap record for this circuit.

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Author: ArchitectPage