The French Matra Simca, driven by Henri Pescarolo and Gerard Larrousse, came back after a bout of severe mechanical trouble to win the Le Mans 24-hour sports car race on Sunday (16 June).
The French Matra Simca, driven by Henri Pescarolo and Gerard Larrousse, came back after a bout of severe mechanical trouble to win the Le Mans 24-hour sports car race on Sunday (16 June). The win was the third in as many years by the Matra team.
Pescarolo-Larrousse covered 2878 miles (4606 kilometres) at an average speed of 119 mile an hour (191 kph). Second was a Porsche Carrera Turbo, driven by Holland's Gijs Van Lennep and Herbert Muller of switzerland. Another Matra, driven by Frenchmen Francois Migault and Jean-Pierre Jabouille, was third.
The Matra streaked to the lead at the start of the race on Saturday (15 June) - featured in this film. They were chased by two German Porsches, but managed to pull away and take a commanding lead. The start was watched by a crowd of about 200,000 fans.
However, the competitors were plagued by mechanical problems. Matra's chief rivals, the two-British-American Gulf Fords, were early victims. And the Matras themselves didn't escape incident-free. For the first few hours, they held the first four places, but soon after they lost their stranglehold on the race when two encountered problems and withdrew.
The Pescarolo-Larrousse Matra had trouble too. It lost an hour in the pits, while mechanics worked furiously to virtually rebuild a damaged gearbox. The Migault Matra was hampered by a leaking radiator, which slowed it down considerably.
With six hours of the race still to go 23 of the 49 starters were still on the circuit - but the Pescarolo-Larrousse Matra was roaring toward its third successive win.