LE MANS 24 HOURS 1984

16th-17th June

53 starters 22 classified finishers

Thanks to yet another set of F1SA backward somersaults conceming the regulations (scrapping of the 15% fuel reduction and opening of the world championship to cars complying with the IMSA regs, while Group C cars raced to the 1982/83 fuel specifications), the Porsche works team decided to boycott Le Mans. It was the first time since 1951 (with the exception of 1975) that there were no works cars from Stuttgart. However, that wily old privateer, Reinhold Joest, gave Porsche their ninth win equalling the Ferrari record. Henri Pescarolo scored his fourth victory exactly 10 years after his third success putting him level with Olivier Gendebien. In addition, after a 20 year absence another famous name was making a welcome returo to the Sarthe, Jaguar in the shape of Bob Tullius's Group 44 team with the Lee Dykstra designed XJR 5s. And indeed the green and white car actually led for almost a lap! Finally, there was a beautifully prepared 512 BB Ferrari with heavily modified aerodynamics, the last appearance of a prancing horse emblazoned car to this day.

The start was given by Franz Stalder, the ADAC (Gerrnany) President.

CIRCUIT :

13.626 kms layout with no changes. A rostrum was erected on the pits straight before the start and used to present the teams seated in open cars.

REGULATIONS :

Same fuel allocation as in 1982 and 1983 with the scheduled 15% reduction being postponed. The introduction of sealed fuel counters meant that the number of refuelling stops was no longer limited thus reducing the risk of cars running out of fuel. This measure also allowed the use of the full fuel allocation meaning 100 to 150 litres more. A 50 kilo weight increase for the Group C cars (850 as opposed to 800 kgs). Returo of IMSA GTP, GTX and GTO cars provided that they complied with the fuel consumption regs. The C Junior category was re - named C2 and the cars were allowed to have full 100 litre fuel tanks.

 

STARTERS :

53 cars 5 nations 19 makes

France : 1 Cougar, 4 Rondeaus, 1 Sthemo, 2 WMs.

Gerrnany: 2 BMWs, 22 Porsches.

Great Britain : 1 ADA, 1 Ecosse, 1 Grid, 2 Jaguars, 3 Lolas, 1 March, 2 Nimrods, 1 Tiga.

Italy : 2 Albas, 1 Ferrari, 3 Lancias.

Japan: 1 Dome, 2 Mazdas.

SUMMARY :

Once again the main opposition to Porsche was provided by the 3 new LC 3 works Lancias complete with 3 litre turbocharged engines. Backing up fth 956s was a 962/956 model in Skoal Bandit colours for Edwards - Keegan and Moreno as well as a Buick engined March, the first appearance of the American manufacturer at Le Mans. Sarthe debut for the 1981 Fl World Champion, Alan Jones (Porsche 956) and retun of 1970 winner, Dickie Attwood, (Nimrod). The start was given at 15h00 because of fue European Elections, and for the first time since 1977, there were no Porsches on the front row as both Wollek and Baldi had wheeled their Lancias round the circuit quicker than all their Stuttgart rivals. Also for the first time in its history a WM actually led the race for a lap. It was quickly overtaken by the Wollek- - Nannini Lancia and indeed the Italian cars surprised everybody (including themselves) by holding first and second positions after 11 hours. The eventual winners had their fair share of drama as, after only 11 minutes, Pescarolo was in the pits twice to check fluctuating fuel pressure rejoining fue race in last place! Unlike the majority of Porsche owners, Joest did not use the Motronic engine management system preferring instead mechanical injection. Three hours later Ludwig was back in the pits for 14 minutes while his mechanics repaired the left - hand front suspension. In the 6th hour they were in the top 10 and just after 7H00 on Sunday morning they went into the lead. In the seventh hour a huge accident in the kink on Les Hunaudieres eliminated both Nimrod Aston Martins when John Sheldon lost control of his car and was hit by his team mate, Drake Olsen. Sheldon was badly burned, a marshal was killed, and another seriously injured by flying debris. This accident led to a 61 minute neutralization of the race. Back to Lancia which lost first place at 7H07 on Sunday moming when the Wollek - Nannini car stripped fifth gear like their team - mates Baldi - Barilla - Heyer had done just over 4 hours earlier. An eighth place finish and the fastest lap was a poor reward for the Italian team. The run to the finish for the Joest car was not without suspense as it suffered a couple of suspension breakages in the seventeenth hour. Both Jaguars went out (accident for no. 40 and gearbox problems for no. 44) after running in the top 6 for several hours. All 4 Mazda engined cars finished with a C2 victory to boot, while in Group B victory fell to a BMW Mk 1 ending 8 years of Porsche domination.

RECORDS:

Fastest lap went to Alessandro Nannini in his Lancia LC 3 in 3'28"9, a speed of 234.018 km/h, a new record. The pace car intervention put paid to any chances of breaking the distance record established the previous year. Fastest in practice was Bob Wollek's Lancia in 3'17"11, a speed of 248.864 km/h.

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Author: ArchitectPage