LE MANS 24 HOURS 1985

16th-17th June

49 starters 24 classified finishers

Porsche scored a historic tenth win on the Sarthe circuit (and fourth consecutive victory for the 956) thanks to Reinhold Joest whose no. 7, chassis no. 956 - 117 became only the second car ever to win Le Mans 2 years running, the other being of course, the famous J. W Automotive Ford GT 40 - 1075 in 1968/69. None of the works 962s could match the pace and economy of the yellow car which had some 222 litres of fuel left over at the finish in spite of setting a new distance record. The clue to its speed was a slippery aerodynamic underbody allied to highly disciplined management and driving on the part of Ludwig (14 stints), Barilla (11 stints) and "Winter" (1 stint ). Second place also went to another private 956, the Canon car of Richard Lloyd Racing. Debut of local boy, Yves Courage's Cougar with Porsche power as well as that of Toyota. Another famous name retumed to Le Mans, Mercedes - Benz in a Sauber chassis but the car did not get beyond practice as John Neilson looped the loop on Les Hunaudieres with it.

The start, again at 15H00, was given by Mr. Alain Calmat, minister of youth and sports.

CIRCUIT :

13.626 kms unchanged.

REGULATIONS :

The 15% reduction in the fuel allowance gave a total of 2210 litres for the C1 cars and 1430 litres for the C2 models.

STARTERS :

49 cars 6 nations 20 makes

France : 1 ALD, 1 Cougar, 5 Rondeaus, 3 WMs.

Germany : 3 BMW s, 2 Gebhardts, 13 Porsches, 1 URD.

Great Britain : 1 Chevron, 1 Ecosse, 1 Emka, 2 Jaguars, 1 March, 4 TIgas. .

Italy: 2 Albas, 2 Landas.

Japan : 2 Mazdas, 2 Toyotas.

Switzerland : 1 Cheetah, 1 Sauber.

SUMMARY:

Again the race was Porsche dominated with 8 cars from Stuttgart in the first 10 places. However, the retum of the works team to the Sarthe was not lo be blessed with success thanks to Joest. As opposed to the client cars 8 of which had 17" wheels all round, the works 962Cs had 17" diameter front wheels and 19" rears and look some time to dial out initial handling problems. On paper at least the main opposition to the Porsches carne from the Martíni Lancias which again flattered only to deceive even if the Wollek - Nannini - Cesario car led early on. They did at least finish in 6th and 7th places. The Ickx - Mass - Bell Porsche was delayed with gearbox problems, the Holbert - Schuppan - Watson car ran strongly (up to second) but succumbed to engine failure and the third place of Bell - Stuck and lekx was the best the factory could do. In fact, the Ludwig - Barilla - Winter car led for almost 90% of the race (347 out of Ihe 373 laps) being pursued for a good part of the 24 hours by the Canon 956 driven by Palmer - Weaver and Lloyd. With no mechanical problems to speak of and fuel in hand (lhis year Joest used the Motronic system) , the yellow 956 cruised home to a relatively (in Le Mans terms) easy win.

On lap 16, there was a Tiff Needell driven Emka Aston Martín in the lead, something not seen since 1962 when Graham Hill had finished lap 1 ahead of the field in the DP 212. This was due to the car only taking on a half fuel load on its first stop! Elevenlh place and first non - turbo finisher was the Emka's final reward. The Group 44 Jaguars were back and although outpaced by the Porsches and the Aston, the Tullius - Robinson - Ballot Lena car won the GTP Group. Group B victory again fell to BMW while the Spice Bellm - Gavin Tiga won the C2 category in addition to Ihe C2 Championship wilh 5 wins from 8 races. Finally, in the category of lucky escapes, in addition to Neilsen, were Joel Gouhier, Jean - Claude Andruet, Carlo Facetti and Dudley Wood all of whom crashed on Les Hunaudieres, with a broken leg for Wood being the most serious injury.

RECORDS :

In his attempt to make up for lost time Jacky lckx wheeled the 962 round the 13.626 km circuit in 3'25"1, a speed of 239.169 km/h, over 3 seconds faster than the 1984 record of Nannini. New records also for distance and average speed as the Ludwig - Barilla - Winter Porsche 956 covered 5088.507 kms at 212. 021 km/h beating the 1983 figures of 5047.934 kms and 210.330 km/h. In practice Hans Stuck set pole - position time in 3'14"80, a speed of 251,815 km/h, the fastest ever lap at Le Mans for any circuit. The Joest Porsche was the fastest on Les Hunaudieres being timed at 372 km/h during practice.

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Author: ArchitectPage