1977 24 Hours of Le Mans
|1977 24 Hours of Le Mans|
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|Index: Races | Winners|
The 1977 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 45th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 11 and 12 June 1977.
The Porsche 936 won again in 1977 against the Renault and Mirage Renault, with extraordinary driving efforts by Jacky Ickx. His #3 car, the chassis 002 that had won in the previous year, broke down in the early running, so Ickx joined Hurley Haywood and Jürgen Barth in the team's #4 sister chassis 001 which had its woes, too. Ickx pushed hard and took the lead again, taking advantage of the fragile Renault challenge, to score his 4th victory. But Porsche were lucky too; a broken engine nearly halted the Porsche 936/77 in the last hour. The mechanics removed the ignition and injection of the failed cylinder, and the smoking car limped around the track to finish after 24 hours while running, as required.
The biggest rule change was the cancellation of restrictions for consumption: Up to now was not required to travel at least twenty laps between two refueling, but the maximum capacity of the tanks was limited to 160 liters and the number of Octane was elevated to 100, like in Formula 1 (and after the protest of Renault). He was also granted the greatest freedom in repairs: the only things that could not be replaced were the engine block, chassis and body.
Before moving on to Formula 1, Renault was decided to win the race and for 1977 had spent all their energy to achieve that goal. 4 cars of the Renault Alpine A442 type were entered for Jabouille / Bell, Depailler / Laffite, Jaussaud / Tambay and Pironi / Arnoux / Fréquelin crew. Long practice sessions were held by the French team at Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet during the months of January, February and April.
After its thorough preparation, the official Renault team was considered a pre-race favourite.
Porsche entered two 936, driven by Ickx / Pescarolo (they had already won 6 editions) and Barth / Haywood, the latter having recently achieved his third victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona after driving his Porsche Carrera RSR all night long.
For this edition the Mirage GR8 left the usual Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3 liters, to adopt the Renault V6 Turbo engine, the same of the Alpine. Drivers were Schuppan/Jarier and Posey/Leclère, with Jarier called at last minute to replace Jean-Louis Lafosse, who will quote in court the team . After long tests at Indianapolis where no failure happened, the Mirage linked on their reliability as slower and heavier than official cars Renault.
The participants in Group 6 "3 liters", with the Ford Cosworth DFV, were the de Cadenet-Lola, with the British team-owner sharing the car with Chris Craft, the French Inaltera with its second participation at Le Mans with two cars for Beltoise/Holbert and "Christine"/Lombardi, and another car in the GTP category and the Lola T286 driven by Perrier/Lapeyre.
In Group 5 ("Silhouette"), only Porsche was present with the 935, the works car of "Martini Racing" for Stommelen/Schurti, and customer cars for Ballot-Léna/Gregg, Schenken/Hezemans/Hayer/Ludwig (Gelo Racing Team) and Edwards/Faure (Kremer Racing. There was also a Ferrari 365 BB fielded by NART and Aston Martin DBS V8 of a small privateer team.
- Pole Position - #9 Renault Sport (Jean-Pierre Jabouille) - 3:31.07
- Fastest Lap - #4 Martini Racing Porsche System (Jacky Ickx) - 3:36.50
- Distance - 4671.83 km
- Average Speed - 194.651 km/h
- Index of Thermal Efficiency - #26 Sté. Racing Organisation Course (ROC)