1981 24 Hours of Le Mans

 

The 1981 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 49th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 13 and 14 June 1981. It was also the eighth round of the World Endurance Championship of Drivers, and the fifth round of the World Championship for Makes.

Defending champions Rondeau entered a strong 5-car team. The Porsche works team challenged them with the final development of their 936, now fitted with the 2.65-litre turbo engine from the abandoned Indianapolis project. The prospect was sufficient to entice Jacky Ickx out of retirement again, teamed up with Derek Bell with whom he had already won the race in 1975. From the start, Ickx took the lead which he held until the first pit-stops. Soon after, the race was interrupted by two serious accidents on the Mulsanne Straight killing French driver Jean-Louis Lafosse and a track marshal. These events saw the first deployment at Le Mans of the pace-car system to slow the race, as repairs and medical attention were carried out.

When racing resumed Reinhold Joest's own 936 replica was now leading, but soon pitted with a cracked turbo-fan giving the lead to the 935 of the Kremer team. However, Bell soon overhauled it to re-take the lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the race, as the car never missed a beat. The gap continued to grow through the night, eventually becoming 14 laps by the end – the largest winning margin in over a decade. The race had a surprising number of car problems in the first few hours for the leading teams, which strung out the field. The second Porsche had sparkplug issues as early as the first lap, but the pair ran 1-2 through the night, until its clutch failed at 7am. It fell to the two GTP-class Rondeaux to mount the pursuit, finishing second and third. Fourth was the Charles Ivey team 935, winning the Group 5 class after the more fancied teams fell away, while the Charles Pozzi Ferrari 512 BB, finishing fifth, won the IMSA-GTX class and gave that marque its best result for eight years.

The significant change to the rules this year was in the qualifying system, which had proven so problematic for the previous year's race. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) therefore reverted to its two days of qualifying, with four hours each on the Wednesday and Thursday. Engine changes were allowed again between qualifying and the race.

The class-by-class quota was also discarded so it would be the 55 fastest cars that would be on the grid and, finally, it would be each car's single fastest lap that would decide its grid position. Every car had to qualify within 110% of the average of the times of the three fastest cars in their class. Each car, and every driver, also had to qualify within 130% of the average of the three fastest cars overall.

The circuit had been widened at the approach to the Esses, adding a grass runoff after the Dunlop Curve. With an eye on improving safety measures further, this year saw the introduction of Mercedes "safety cars". Following the process used in American racing, they would be introduced to gather the field to slow it down in the event of a serious event on the circuit. Owing to the length of the circuit, three would be used to keep the field spread more evenly.

Where we have not had a model of the car through the business as raced I've added another example of the car as an illustration (where I have one)

Pos   No. Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps Reason
1 Porsche 936 11  Porsche System  Jacky Ickx
 Derek Bell
Porsche 936/81 Porsche 935/82 2.6L F6turbo 355 N/A
2 Rondeau M379C 8  Jean Rondeau  Jean-Louis Schlesser
 Philippe Streiff
 Jacky Haran
Rondeau M379C Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8 341 N/A
3 Rondeau M379C

(example)

7  Jean Rondeau
 
 Gordon Spice
 François Migault
Rondeau M379C
 
Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8
 
336
 
N/A
4 Kremer Porsche 935 K3

(example)

55  C. Bourgoignie
 Charles Ivey Racing
(private entrant)
 John Cooper
 Dudley Wood
 Claude Bourgoignie
Porsche 935-K3/79 Porsche 930 3.1L F6 turbo 331 N/A
5 Ferrari 512 BB 47  Charles Pozzi S.A.  Claude Ballot-Léna
 Jean-Claude Andruet
Ferrari 512BB/LM Ferrari 4.9L F12 329 N/A
6 Porsche 935 42  Cooke-Woods Racing  Bob Garretson
 Ralph Kent-Cooke
 Anne-Charlotte Verney
Porsche 935-K3/80 Porsche 930 3.2L F6 twin-turbo 328 N/A
7 Porsche 944 Coupe(example) 1  Porsche System  Jürgen Barth
 Walter Röhrl
Porsche 944 LM Porsche 2.5L S4 turbo 324 N/A
8 Lancia Beta Monte Carlo

(example)

65  Martini Racing  Michele Alboreto
 Eddie Cheever
 Carlo Facetti
Lancia Montecarlo Turbo Lancia 1425cc S4 turbo 323 N/A
9 Ferrari 512 BB

(example)

46  Rennod Racing  Pierre Dieudonné
 Jean Xhenceval
 Jean-Paul Libert
Ferrari 512BB/LM Ferrari 4.9L F12 321 N/A
10 Porsche 935 60  Vegla Racing Team  Dieter Schornstein
 Harald Grohs
 Götz von Tschirnhaus
Porsche 935J Porsche 930 3.0L F6 twin-turbo 321 N/A
11 Porsche 924 36  Porsche System  Manfred Schurti
 Andy Rouse
Porsche 924 Carrera GTR Porsche 2.0L S4 turbo 316 N/A
12 Porsche 936 12  Porsche System  Jochen Mass
 Vern Schuppan
 Hurley Haywood
Porsche 936/81 Porsche 935/82 2.6L F6turbo 313 N/A
13 Peugeot WM P76

(example)

4  WM AEREM  Denis Morin
 Charles Mendez
 Xavier Mathiot
WM P79/80 Peugeot PRV ZNS4 2.7L
V6 twin-turbo
308 N/A
14 Lancia Beta Monte Carlo 68  Jolly Club  Martino Finotto
 Giorgio Pianta
 Giorgio Schön
Lancia Montecarlo Turbo Lancia 1425cc S4 turbo 293 N/A
15 Still Looking 18  GRID Team Lola  Emilio de Villota
 Guy Edwards
 Juan Fernández
Lola T600 Cosworth DFL 3.3 L V8 288 N/A
16 BMW M1 Coupe 51  ORECA
 BMW Italie-France
 Philippe Alliot
 Bernard Darniche
 Johnny Cecotto
BMW M1 BMW M88 3.5L S6 278 N/A
17 Porsche 935

(example)

70  T. Perrier
(private entrant)
 Thierry Perrier
 Valentin Bertapelle
 Bernard Salam
Porsche 934 Porsche 3.0L F6 turbo
(Ethanol)
275

 
N/A
18 Lola T296

(example)

31  J.-P. Grand
(private entrant)
 Jean-Philippe Grand
 Yves Courage
Lola T298 BMW M12 2.0L S4 273 N/A
N/C* Lola T296

(example)

33  Compagnie Primagaz
(private entrant)
 Pierre Yver
 Michel Dubois
 Jacques Heuclin
Lola T298 BMW M12 2.0L S4 204

 
N/A
N/C* Still Looking 32  Écurie Renard-Delmas  Louis Descartes
 Hervé Bayard
Renard-Delmas D1 Simca-ROC 2.0L S4 188 N/A
DNF Kremer Porsche 935 K3

(example)

43  Bob Akin Motor Racing  Bob Akin
 Paul Miller
 Craig Siebert
Porsche 935-K3/80 Porsche 930 3.0L F6 turbo 320 Electrics
(24hr)
DNF Porsche 935

(example)

57  C. Haldi
(private entrant)
 Claude Haldi
 Mark Thatcher
 Hervé Poulain
Porsche 934/5 Porsche 930 3.0L F6 turbo 260 Accident
damage
(22hr)
DNF Ferrari 512 BB

(example)

49  North American Racing Team  Alain Cudini
 Philippe Gurdjian
 John Morton
Ferrari 512BB/LM Ferrari 4.9L F12 247 Accident
(20hr)
DNF BMW M1 Coupe

(example)

53  EMKA Productions  Steve O'Rourke
 David Hobbs
 Eddie Jordan
BMW M1 BMW M88 3.5L S6 236 Engine
(22hr)
DNF BMW M1 Coupe 72  BMW Zol'Auto  François Sérvanin
 Laurent Ferrier
 Pierre-François Rousselot
BMW M1 BMW M88 3.5L S6 212 Engine
(21hr)
DNF Still Looking 20  A. de Cadenet
(private entrant)
 Alain de Cadenet
 Jean-Michel Martin
 Philippe Martin
DeCadenet-Lola LM78 Cosworth DFL 3.3 L V8 210 Engine
(19hr)
DNF BMW M1 Coupe 52  Würth-Lubrifilm Team Sauber  Dieter Quester
 Marc Surer
 David Deacon
BMW M1 BMW M88 3.5L S6 207 Engine
(20hr)
DNF Lancia Beta Monte Carlo 66  Martini Racing  Riccardo Patrese
 Hans Heyer
 Piercarlo Ghinzani
Lancia Montecarlo Turbo Lancia 1425cc S4 turbo 186 Engine
(16hr)
DNF Still Looking 21  Dorset Racing Associates
 A. de Cadenet
(private entrant)
 Martin Birrane
 Nick Faure
 Vivian Candy
DeCadenet-Lola LM76 Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8 171 Transmission
(19hr)
DNF 1978 Dome Zero

(example)

23  Dome Co. Ltd  Chris Craft
 Bob Evans
Dome Zero RL80 Cosworth DFV 3.0L V8 154 Engine
(15hr)
DNF Kremer Porsche 935 K3

(example)

40  Joest Racing  Günther Steckkönig
 Mauricio de Narváez
 Kenper Miller
Porsche 935J Porsche 930 2.8L F6 turbo 152 Fire
(13hr)
DNF Ferrari 512 BB 48  S. Phillips
(private entrant)
 Simon Phillips
 Mike Salmon
 Steve Earle
Ferrari 512BB/LM Ferrari 4.9L F12 140 Transmission
(12hr)
DNF Ferrari 512 BB

(example)

45  Scuderia Supercar
Bellancauto
 Fabrizio Violati
 Maurizio Flammini
 Duilio Truffo
Ferrari 512BBB Ferrari 4.9L F12 118 Transmission
(15hr)
DNF Still Looking 22  André Chevalley Racing
(private entrant)
 André Chevalley
 Patrick Gaillard
 Bruno Sotty
ACR 80B Cosworth DFV 3.0L V8 114 Clutch
(11hr)
DNF Mazda RX7

(example)

37  Mazdaspeed
 Tom Walkinshaw Racing
 Tetsu Ikuzawa
 Tom Walkinshaw
 Peter Lovett
Mazda RX-7 253i Mazda 13B 1308cc
twin-rotary
107 Clutch
(12hr)
DNF Lola T296

(example)

30  J.-M. Lemerle
(private entrant)
 Jean-Marie Lemerle
 Max Cohen-Olivar
 Alain Levié
Lola T298 BMW M12 2.0L S4 104 Electrics
(18hr)
DNF Still Looking 27  I. Bracey
(private entrant)
 Tiff Needell
 Tony Trimmer
Ibec P6 Cosworth DFV 3.0L V8 95 Engine
(15hr)
DNF Porsche 917 Kremer 10  Porsche Kremer Racing  Bob Wollek
 Xavier Lapeyre
 Guy Chasseuil
Porsche 917K/81 Porsche 4.9L F12 82 Engine
(8hr)
DNF Porsche 908 14  Joest Racing  Reinhold Joest
 Dale Whittington
 Klaus Niedzwiedz
Porsche 908/J80 Porsche 911/78 2.1L
F6 turbo
80 Accident
(6hr)
DNF Rondeau M379C

(example)

24  Jean Rondeau  Jean Rondeau
 Jean-Pierre Jaussaud
Rondeau M379C Cosworth DFL 3.3 L V8 58 Accident
damage
(10hr)
DNF BMW M1 Coupe

(example)

50  BASF Cassetten
Team GS Sport
 Hans-Joachim Stuck
 Jean-Pierre Jarier
 Helmut Henzler
BMW M1 BMW M88 3.5L S6 57 Accident
damage
(5hr)
DNF Kremer Porsche 935 K3

(example)

59  Porsche Kremer Racing
 Interscope Racing
 Ted Field
 Bill Whittington
 Don Whittington
Porsche 935-K3/80 Porsche 930 3.2L F6 turbo 57 Engine
(5hr)
 
DNF Peugeot WM P76

(example)

83  WM AEREM  Marcel "Max" Mamers
 Jean-Daniel Raulet
WM P81 Peugeot PRV ZNS4 2.7L
V6 twin-turbo
50 Accident
damage
(5hr)
DNF Kremer Porsche 935 K3 69  Tuff-Kote Dinol Racing
(private entrant)
 Jan Lundgårdh
 Axel Plankenhorn
 Mike Wilds
Porsche 935-K3/ L1 Porsche 1425cc F6 turbo 49 Engine
(6hr)
DNF BMW M1 Coupe 71  Marko RSM
(private entrant)
 Christian Danner
 Peter Oberndofer
 Prinz Leopold von Bayern
BMW M1 BMW M88 3.5L S6 49 Engine
(8hr)
DNF Kremer Porsche 935 K3 61  Weralit Racing Team  Edgar Dören
 Jürgen Lässig
 Gerhard Holup
Porsche 935-K3/79 Porsche 930 3.0L F6 turbo 48 Engine
(8hr)
DNF Lancia Beta Monte Carlo 67  Martini Racing  Beppe Gabbiani
 Emanuele Pirro
Lancia Montecarlo Turbo Lancia 1425cc S4 turbo 47 Accident
(5hr)
DNF Peugeot WM P76

(example)

5  WM AEREM  Guy Fréquelin
 Roger Dorchy
 Xavier Mathiot
WM P79/80 Peugeot PRV ZNS4 2.7L
V6 twin-turbo
46 Engine
fire (4hr)
DNF Kremer Porsche 935 K3 41  Thunderbird Swap Shop
(private entrant)
 Preston Henn
 Mike Chandler
 Marcel Mignot
Porsche 935-K3/80 Porsche 930 3.0L F6 turbo 45 Engine
(6hr)
DNF Rondeau M379C

(example)

26  Jean Rondeau  Henri Pescarolo
 Patrick Tambay
Rondeau M379C Cosworth DFL 3.3 L V8 41 Fuel pump
(8hr)
DNF Porsche 924

(example)

73  Eminence Racing Team
(private entrant)
 Jacques Alméras
 Jean-Marie Alméras
Porsche 924 Carrera GTR Porsche 2.0L S4 turbo 30 Engine
(6hr)
DNF Rondeau M379C

(example)

25  Jean Rondeau  Jean Ragnotti
 Jean-Louis Lafosse
Rondeau M379C Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8 28 Fatal accident
(3hr)
DNF Mazda RX7

(example)

38  Mazdaspeed
 Tom Walkinshaw Racing
 Yojiro Terada
 Hiroshi Fushida
 Win Percy
Mazda RX-7 253i Mazda 13B 1308cc
twin-rotary
25 Transmission
(4hr)
DNF Peugeot WM P76

(example)

82  WM AEREM  Thierry Boutsen
 Serge Saulnier
 Michel Pignard
WM P81 Peugeot PRV ZNS4 2.7L
V6 twin-turbo
15 Accident
(3hr)
DNF Chevrolet Camaro

(example)

35  Stratagraph Inc.  Cale Yarborough
 Billy Hagan
 Bill Cooper
Chevrolet Camaro Chevrolet 6.4L V8 13 Accident
(2hr)
DNQ Still Looking 16  M. Sardou
(private entrant)
 Patrick Perrier
 Michel Lateste
Ardex S80 BMW M88 3.5L S6 0 Did not qualify
DNQ Still Looking 17  Cooke-Woods Racing  Brian Redman
 Bobby Rahal
Lola T600 Porsche 930/72 3.0L
F6 turbo
0 Did not qualify
RES Mazda RX7

(example)

39  Z & W Enterprises Inc.  Fred Stiff
 Dirk Vermeersch
 Ray Ratcliff
Mazda RX-7 Mazda 12A 1146cc
twin-rotary
0 Did not qualify
DNQ Kremer Porsche 935 K3

(example)

62  "Ségolen"
(private entrant)
 "Ségolen" (André Gahinet)
 Jacques Guérin
 Christian Bussi
Porsche 935 Porsche 3.0L F6 turbo 0 Did not qualify
RES Porsche 924

(example)

74  Porsche Cars Australia  Peter Brock
 Jim Richards
 Colin Bond
Porsche 924 Carrera GTR Porsche 2.0L S4 turbo 0 Did not qualify
RES Porsche 924

(example)

75  Porsche System Canon  Richard Lloyd
 Tony Dron
Porsche 924 Carrera GTR Porsche 2.0L S4 turbo 0 Did not qualify
DNQ Still Looking 90  Z & W Enterprises Inc.  Hervé Regout
 Michel Elkoubi
McLaren M12/6B GT Chevrolet 5.7L V8 0 Did not qualify
DNA Peugeot WM P76

(example)

6  WM AEREM  Denis Morin
 Charles Mendez
WM P79/80 Peugeot PRV ZNS4 2.7L
V6 twin-turbo
0 Converted to
Group C

 


1980 24 Hours of Le Mans Home Site Home 1982
  Last Edit: 07/05/2022 Page Created 07/052022