In France, the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race was won today (13 June) by a West German Porsche driven by Belgian Jacky Ickx and Gijs Van Lennep.
In France, the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race was won today (13 June) by a West German Porsche driven by Belgian Jacky Ickx and Gijs Van Lennep. On Saturday (12 June), an estimated 100,000 people turned up to see the start of the race.
SYNOPSIS: Temperatures were soaring into the 90's fahrenheit as the twice Le Mans-winner, Jacky Ickx, came to the gird for the start of the race. Strong contenders were Frenchmen Jean-Louis Lafosse and Francois Migault in a Mirage. And in car 12, Alain de Cadenet and Chris Craft of Britain.
Fifty-four cars sped away at the start, with 26 Porches dominating the field. The sweltering weather was expected to take a heavy toll of the high speed cars, particularly the turbo-powered models. West Germans, Reinhold Jost and Jurgen Barth in car number 17, a Porsche 936, held second place as the race developed.
But for car number 73, the Le Mans brought tragedy. French driver, Andre Haller lost control of his Japanese Datsun on a tight bend at the end of the circuit's longest straight. The car spun, crashed into a guard rail and burst into flames. Haller was pulled clear after the fire was extinguished, but he died shortly after reaching hospital from burns and chest injuries.
The American challenge fared badly during the race. A monster seven litre Chevrolet Corvette capable of 100 mph (160 kph) in first gear was among the early leaders. But after 29 laps it stopped out on the circuit, and more than an hour later it limped into the pits for repairs. The fastest car in practice, a French Alpine Renault, withdrew form the race in the 135th lap with a broken piston, leaving Jacky Ickx to go on to win the Le Mans in his Porsche.