50 starters 19 classified finishers
The Porsche works team came to the Sarthe to take their revenge on Joest who had beaten them 12 months previously, and also to prove that the Jaguar victory at Silverstone in early May was not a sign of a chink in the armour of the "Stuttgart stearnroller". In fact, the days of the 962 were numbered but the 1986 Le Mans 24 Hour race gave no indication of this. The private/works Porsche battle held its promise in part at least as by 1H00 on Sunday morning, a mere 4/10" separated the eventual winners from the Ludwig - Barilla - 'Winter' 956 of Joest Racing, the average speed being over 223 km/h! The pace had been too much for two of the works 962s as the Schuppan - Olsen car had gone out after only 4 hours with broken transmission and the Mass - Wollek - Schuppan entry had crashed. Two of the XJR 6 Jaguars had also vanished, the Redman - Heyer - Haywood car mnning out of fuel after 5 hours with the German at the wheel, and the Brancatelli - Percy - Haywood no. 53 with broken transmission after 10 hours. The remaining Jaguar was still running but it had been slowed by a battery change. The Joest Porsche then over - heated its engine during the pace car intervention following Gartner's fatal accident, and the last threat to Porsche domination vanished at 8H30 on Sunday morning when Schlesser had a tyre blow on Les Hunaudieres at over 350 km/h in the surviving XJR 6. Luckily, he managed to keep it on the island but it was a very white - faced Frenchman who stepped out of the car in the pits. Thus Stuck, Bell and Holbert came home to an unchallenged victory giving Porsche their sixth consecutive win and eleventh success at Le Mans. It was Derek Bell's fourth Le Mans triumph equalling the score of Olivier Gendebien, and Holbert's second. Finally, 7 Porsches filled the lirst 7 places. The start was given by Sir John Egan, the Jaguar chairman, in the presence of Mr. Christian Bergelin, the state secretary in charge of youth and sports.
13.528 kms. The construction of a roundabout at the entry to Mulsanne necessitated a new circuit modifications which reduced its total length by 98 metres. This new layout was inaugurated on 9th May when the once traditional test day was revived. There was also a 360 km race won by the W ollek - Mass Porsche 962 ahead of the Katayama - Terada Mazda.
The total fuel allocation increased from 2210 to 2550 litres for the Cl and IMSA cars and from 1430 to 1650 litres for the C2s. The fuel flow was also increased from 50 to 60 litres per minute, a gain of some 20 seconds during each refuelling stop.
50 cars 6 nations 21 makes
France ; 1 ALD, 1 Cougar, 3 Rondeaus, 2 WMs.
Germany ; 1 B. M. W, 2 Gebhardts, 2 Kouros - Mercedes, 16 Porsches, 1 URD.
Great Britain ; 1 Argo, 1 Bardon, 2 Ecosses, 3 Jaguars, 2 Marches, 1 Spice, 3 Tigas.
ltaly ; 1 Alba.
Japan ; 2 Mazdas, 2 Nissans, 2 Toyotas. Switzerland ; 1 Sauber.
*Tbe Kouros - Mercedes were built by Sauber.
The 54th Le Mans 24 Hour race was marked by the official retum of Jaguar, 30 years after the last appearance of a car entered by the factory. These were pukka Group C cars with a 6 litre V 12 engine putting out close on 700 bhp, installed in a real monocoque chassis the work of Tony Southgate. They had nothing in common with the IMSA entries of 1984 and 1985. Zytek supplied the engine management system and Dunlop the tyres, while the rear end bodywork was more streamlined than on the sprint version and the wing was set lower. Another semi - official retum was that of Mercedes - Benz as the factory had provided considerable help to Peter Sauber the car's constructor. The cars were still suffering from teething troubles and never mixed it with the front runners. Nissan also made its first appearance in the Sarthe with ambitions which were perhaps over - optimistic given its lack of Le Mans experience. One car down in sixteenth spot did however make it to the chequered flag. Technically speaking, Porsche provided the main novelties with the 4 wheel - drive 961 derived from the Paris - Dakar winning 959. It was the first - ever participation of a 4 wheel - drive vehicle in the 24 Hour race. In addition, the no.3 Porsche was equipped with the PDK automatic gearbox, a brave gamble on the part of the Stuttgart firm. A shadow was cast over the race by the death of Jo Gartner, the Austrian driver, killed instantly when his Kremer entered Porsche 962 went off on the entry to Les Hunaudieres at 3H15 on Sunday moming for reasons unknown. This brought out the pace car for almost two and a half hours providing an extra fuel bonus for the turbocharged cars.
RECORDS :New layout equalled new records. The Bell - Stuck - Holbert Porsche 962 covered 4972.730 kms at an average speed of 207.197 km/h and fastest lap fell to the Joest Porsche in 3'23"3, an average speed of 239, 551 km/h. Fastest lap in practice went to Jochen Mass in his 962 C (the PDK car but without the PDK system) in 3'15"99, a speed of 248.486 km/h. The fastest on Les Hunaudieres all weekend was the Joest Porsche no. 7 at almost 380 km/h.
Sports Car Races