Gulf Mirage

The 24 Hours of le Mans

 

The Mirage Lightweight Racing Car was a family of race cars built by J.W. Automotive Engineereing (JWAE) at Slough in England, initially to compete in international sports car races in the colours of the Gulf Oil Corporation.

In all, from 1974 to 1978, the Mirages never finished outside of the top-ten positions at Le Mans, posting a first, two seconds, a third, a fourth, a fifth, and a tenth. Mirage race cars were the first to wear the legendary powder blue and marigold livery of Gulf Oil, the first to post race wins for Gulf Oil, and the last to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall for Gulf Oil.

M1
For the 1967 season, JWAE built and raced the M1, a Sports prototype based on the Ford GT40. The M1 used the standard Ford GT40 V8 engine in various capacities up to 5.7 litres. The highlight of the M1's short racing career was without doubt the victory by Jacky Ickx and Dick Thompson in chassis M.1003 in the 1967 Spa-Francorchamps 1000 km.

M2, M3
The M2 was built in 1968 for the new 3 Litre Group 6 Prototype class, but the BRM V12 powered cars were rarely raced and met with no success. The revised and roofless M3 of 1969 was powered by the Ford Cosworth DFV V8 but again this model saw little use, JWA having largely concentrated on racing Ford GT40s during these two years.

M4, M5
The M4 was a roadster conceived between the end of 1969 and the beginning of 1970 coupling M3 chassis with a 5-liter Ford GT40 engine, but development of this particular car was stopped once JWAE signed the agreement with Porsche to use their 917 for the 1970 season, while in 1969 M5, a Formula Ford single seater, was built, and raced during 1970 British F.Ford season under Willment Group banner. Many fans got confused about M4-M5 denomination due to John Horsmann calling M5 the roadster and M4 the single seater.

M6
After competing with Porsche 917s during the 1970 & 1971 seasons, JWAE developed the new Ford Cosworth powered M6 model to race as a Group 5 Sports Car in the new World Championship for Makes from 1972.

At the end of the 1971 season big "5 liter sportcars" like Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 were banned, leaving the scene to nimbler "3 liter prototypes" and JWAE was ready with a new project from Len Bailey: the M6. The M6 consisted of a steel reinforced riveted aluminium chassis coupled with a detuned 3 liter Cosworth DFV Formula 1 engine as a stressed member, and covered by open fiberglass bodywork with a large rear wing: the first chassis was completed in March 1972 and raced at 12 Hours of Sebring, the second car was completed halfway into the season, and the third was used to test Weslake V12 engine. While heavier, the Weslake V12 was expected to be smoother and more powerful than the Cosworth, whose strong vibrations caused many reliability issues. Again the only victory was at Spa, in the 1973 Spa-Francorchamps 1000 km. Apart from this win, the 1973 season was less than successful. Most of the teams resources were dedicated to Weslake V12 engine development, which did not prove better than the Cosworth, and led to the end of the program with four chassis out of five rebuilt as GR7.

GR7
The GR7 model was renamed to Gulf GR7 for 1974, reflecting the sponsorship involvement of Gulf Oil which dated from 1967. "Gulf Ford" placed second in the 1974 World Championship for Makes.

Gulf GR8
In 1975 the team obtained its last victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the GR8 driven by Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell. The other car finished third with Vern Schuppan and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud. The race was excluded from the World Championship for Makes by the CSI because of new fuel consumption rules introduced for the race in the wake of the oil crisis.

1967        
Ford Mirage M1        
Starter; Gulf Mirage; 1968 24h Le Mans DSQ; Elford & Mitter; RN32        
1974        
Solido 611; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1974 24h Le Mans; Schuppan & Wisell; RN12        
Solido 611; Gulf Mirage GR7; 1974 24h Le Mans; Schuppan & Wisell; RN12        
1975        
Kit Built; Mirage M8; 1975 24h Le Mans 3rd; Schuppan & Jaussaud; RN10 Spark STME01; Mirage GR8; 1975 24h Le Mans 1st; Ickx & Bell; RN11 DeAgostini; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1975 24h Le Mans 1st; Ickx & Bell; RN11 Solido 38; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1975 24h Le Mans 1st; Ickx & Bell; RN11 IXO LM1975; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1975 24h Le Mans 1st; Ickx & Bell; RN11
Kit Built; Mirage M8; 1975 24h Le Mans 3rd; Schuppan & Jaussaud; RN10 Spark STME01; Mirage GR8; 1975 24h Le Mans 1st; Ickx & Bell; RN11 DeAgostini; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1975 24h Le Mans 1st; Ickx & Bell; RN11 Solido 38; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1975 24h Le Mans 1st; Ickx & Bell; RN11 IXO LM1975; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1975 24h Le Mans 1st; Ickx & Bell; RN11
1976     1977  
Kit Built; Mirage M8; 1976 24h Le Mans 2nd; Lafosse & Migault; RN10 Solido 7171; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1976 24h Le Mans 2nd; Lafosse & Migault; RN10   IXO; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1977 24h Le Mans 2nd; Schuppan & Jarier; RN10  
Kit Built; Mirage M8; 1976 24h Le Mans 2nd; Lafosse & Migault; RN10 Solido 7171; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1976 24h Le Mans 2nd; Lafosse & Migault; RN10   IXO; Gulf Mirage GR8; 1977 24h Le Mans 2nd; Schuppan & Jarier; RN10  
1979        
Mini Racing 0037; Mirage 802 M10; 1979 24h Le Mans DSQ; Schuppan, Jaussaud, Hobbs; RN10        
Mini Racing 0037; Mirage 802 M10; 1979 24h Le Mans DSQ; Schuppan, Jaussaud, Hobbs; RN10        

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Last Edit: 05/05/2022   Page Added 30/04/2022