Wednesday 1 April 2015

1975 24 Heures du Mans

In 1975, the oil crisis was in full swing, so rules promoting fuel efficiency were brought into play for the 1975 edition of the 24 Heures du Mans.

Englishman John Wyer was a veteran and successful race-team manager who’s team had won the 24 heures du Mans 3 times, first in 1959 for Aston Martin, and then in 1968 and 1969, racing the Gulf Racing GT-40’s.

Though he was looking at retirement, he could not resist the idea of trying one last time.

With the assistance of Gulf again, Wyer had two Mirage GR8’s developed for Le Mans, the only race that he and Gulf Racing chose to run in the season.

The international mix of drivers chosen for the task were Australian Vern Schuppan and Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jaussaud in car #10, and Englishman Derek Bell and Belgian Jacky Ickx teamed up in car #11.

The cars were powered by the famous Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0L V8, modified to run at lower RPM’s to conserve fuel.

The Bell/Ickx Gulf Mirage GR8 at the 1975 24 Heures du Mans
Pen&ink and markers on 12"x 12" light-blue archival paper ... I used no blue in this artwork.
© Paul Chenard 2015 - Original art available.

The Gulf research Racing Co. Mirage GR8’s were favoured to win, and they did not dispoint!

The Bell/Ickx #11 car covered the most distance in the 24 hours, and the Schuppan/Jaussaud #10 car finished 3rd behind the Lafosse/Chasseuil Ligier JS2.

It was Derek Bell’s first of 5 Le Mans (1975, 1981. 1982, 1986, 1987) wins and it was Jacky Ickx’s 2nd of 6 Le Mans (1969, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982) wins. Schuppan was to win later in 1983, and Jaussaud in 1978 and 1980.

For John Wyer, it was a lovely retirement gift!

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