Saturday 19 May 2018

1949 24 heures du Mans

The 1949 24 heures du Mans marked the return to racing at the Circuit de la Sarthe after World War II.

There were 49 starters for the race, driving Delages, Frazer Nashs, Bentleys, HRGs, Aston Martins, Healeys, Simcas, Talbot-Lagos, and for the very first time, Ferraris.

Two Ferrari 166 MMs were entered, one being driven by the team of Luigi Chinetti and Peter Mitchell-Thomson (Lord Selsdon) and the other by Jean Lucas and Pierre Louis-Dreyfus.

The Ferrari of Chinetti and Lord Selsdon kept a stead pace near the front while the Ferrari of Lucas and Louis-Dreyfus crashed out early on lap 53.

Lord Selsdon was feeling quite ill at the time, managing a total of only 72 minutes of racing, so Luigi Chinetti did the lion’s share of the driving for the race.

Eight hours in, Chinetti pushed the Ferrari into the lead, which he kept to the end, nursing the car with a slipping clutch.

Amazingly, it was Luigi Chinetti 3rd Le Mans win, having also won in 1932 with Raymond Sommer and in 1934 with Philippe Étancelin.

It was also a landmark win for the fledgling Ferrari company, and a hint of the future domination that Ferrari would have on the race through the 1950’s and the early 1960’s.

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