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1981 24 Hours of Le Mans

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Title: 1981 24 Hours of Le Mans  
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Subject: 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jean-Louis Lafosse, Peter Schutz, Le Mans Classic, Porsche in motorsport
Collection: 1981 in French Motorsport, 1981 in Motorsport, 24 Hours of Le Mans Races
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1981 24 Hours of Le Mans

1981 24 Hours of Le Mans
Previous: 1980 Next: 1982
Index: Races | Winners

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 1981 World Endurance Championship of Drivers and the fifth round of the 1981 World Endurance Championship of Makes.

Contents

  • Pre-race 1
  • Race 2
  • Official results 3
  • Statistics 4
  • Trophy Winners 5

Pre-race

The circuit had been widened at the approach to the Esses, adding grass runoff after the Dunlop Curve.

Porsche had a new program for the future Group C regulations in 1982, and had persuaded Jacky Ickx out of retirement. The main reason for entering Le Mans was to test a new engine for the upcoming new car. This 2.6L engine was derived from an Indianapolis 500 engine which never raced. The new engines were fitted in a pair of 936 chassis. Ickx shared one of the updated 936s with Derek Bell; Jochen Mass, Vern Schuppan and Hurley Haywood drove the other.

Shortly after going into semi-retirement, NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough made his only start. This made Yarborough one of the few drivers in history to participate in the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Race

The race was run in very hot weather, but the engine test was successful: after the first hour, Ickx and Bell had built a large advance and remained at lead for the rest of the race. They won by an even greater margin than in 1976- 14 laps. Ickx had won Le Mans for the 5th time- surpassing a record set by fellow Belgian Olivier Gendebien in 1962.

The race was marred by the death of Jean-Louis Lafosse, who violently crashed his Rondeau in the early stages on the Hunaudieres while following the Lola T600 of de Villota/Edwards/Fernández. No cause has ever been determined although a piece of debris is seen flying away from the car just before the Rondeau suddenly steers to the right, along with pre-crash photographs showing evidence of damage from an off-track excursion, suggesting suspension failure as a possible cause.

Thierry Boutsen, who would go on to drive in Formula One, had earlier escaped a large accident in the second hour, destroying his WM-Peugeot but without causing injury to himself; race marshal Thierry Mabillat was fatally injured in the accident; and 2 of his colleagues, Claude Hertault and Serge David, were seriously injured but survived; the latter lost an arm.

Official results

Le Mans in 1981
Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Tyres Laps
Engine
1 S
+2.0
11 Porsche System Jacky Ickx
Derek Bell
Porsche 936 D 354
Porsche Type-935 2.6 L Turbo Flat-6
2 GTP
3.0
8 Jean Rondeau Jacky Haran
Jean-Louis Schlesser
Philippe Streiff
Rondeau M379 G 340
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8
3 GTP
3.0
7 Otis Jean Rondeau Gordon Spice
François Migault
Rondeau M379 G 335
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8
4 Gr.5 55 Claude Bourgoignie
Charles Ivey Racing
Claude Bourgoignie
John Cooper
Dudley Wood
Porsche 935 K3 D 330
Porsche Type-935 3.1 L Turbo Flat-6
5 IMSA
GTX
47 Charles Pozzi S.A. Jean-Claude Andruet
Claude Ballot-Léna
Hervé Regout
Ferrari 512BB/LM M 328
Ferrari 4.9 L Flat-12
6 IMSA
GTX
42 Cooke-Woods Racing Anne-Charlotte Verney
Bob Garretson
Ralph Kent-Cooke
Porsche 935 K3 G 327
Porsche Type-935 3.2 L Turbo Flat-6
7 GTP
+3.0
1 Porsche System Jürgen Barth
Walter Röhrl
Porsche 944 LM D 323
Porsche 2.5 L Turbo I4
8 Gr.5 65 Martini Racing Michele Alboreto
Eddie Cheever
Carlo Facetti
Lancia Beta Monte Carlo P 322
Lancia 1.4 L Turbo I4
9 IMSA
GTX
46 Rennod Racing Pierre Dieudonné
Jean Xhenceval
Jean-Paul Libert
Ferrari 512BB/LM G 320
Ferrari 4.9 L Flat-12
10 Gr.5 60 Vegla Racing Team Dieter Schornstein
Harald Grohs
Götz von Tschirnhaus
Porsche 935J D 320
Porsche Type-935 3.0 L Turbo Flat-6
11 IMSA
GTO
36 Porsche System Manfred Schurti
Andy Rouse
Porsche 924 Carrera GTR D 315
Porsche 2.0 L Turbo I4
12 S
+2.0
12 Porsche System Jochen Mass
Vern Schuppan
Hurley Haywood
Porsche 936 D 312
Porsche Type-935 2.6 L Turbo Flat-6
13 GTP
+3.0
4 WM A.E.R.E.M. Denis Morin
Charles Mendez
Xavier Mathiot
WM P79/80 M 307
Peugeot PRV 2.7 L Turbo V6
14 Gr.5 68 Jolly Club Martino Finotto
Giorgio Pianta
Giorgio Schön
Lancia Beta Monte Carlo P 292
Lancia 1.4 L Turbo I4
15 S
+2.0
18 Team Lola Emilio de Villota
Guy Edwards
Juan Fernández
Lola T600 G 287
Ford Cosworth DFL 3.3 L V8
16 Gr.5 51 BMW Italie-France Philippe Alliot
Bernard Darniche
Johnny Cecotto
BMW M1 Gr.5 D 277
BMW M88 3.5 L I6
17 GT 70 Thierry Perrier Thierry Perrier
Valentin Bertapelle
Bernard Salam
Porsche 934 M 274
Porsche 2.9 L Turbo Flat-6
18 S
2.0
31 Jean-Philippe Grand Jean-Philippe Grand
Yves Courage
Lola T298 G 272
BMW 2.0 L I4
19
NC
S
2.0
33 Compagnie Primagaz Pierre Yver
Michel Dubois
Jacques Heuclin
Lola T298 G 203
BMW 2.0 L I4
20
NC
S
2.0
32 Écurie Renard-Delmas Louis Descartes
Hervé Bayard
Renard-Delmas D1 G 187
ROC-Simca 2.0 L I4
21
DNF
IMSA
GTX
43 Bob Akin Motor Racing Bob Akin
Paul Miller
Craig Siebert
Porsche 935 K3 G 320
Porsche Type-935 3.0 L Turbo Flat-6
22
DNF
Gr.5 57 Claude Haldi
Charles Ivey Racing
Claude Haldi
Mark Thatcher
Hervé Poulain
Porsche 935 D 260
Porsche Type-935 3.0 L Turbo Flat-6
23
DNF
IMSA
GTX
49 NART Alain Cudini
Philippe Gurdjian
John Morton
Ferrari 512BB/LM M 247
Ferrari 4.9 L Flat-12
24
DNF
Gr.5 53 EMKA Productions Limited David Hobbs
Eddie Jordan
Steve O'Rourke
BMW M1 Gr.5 D 236
BMW M88 3.5 L I6
25
DNF
GT 72 BMW Zol'Auto Jean-François Rousselot
François Sérvanin
Laurent Ferrier
BMW M1 D 212
BMW M88 3.5 L I6
26
DNF
S
+2.0
20 Alain de Cadenet
Belga
Alain de Cadenet
Jean-Michel Martin
Philippe Martin
De Cadenet-Lola LM D 210
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8
27
DNF
Gr.5 52 Würth-Lubrifilm Team Sauber Dieter Quester
Marc Surer
David Deacon
BMW M1 Gr.5 D 207
BMW M88 3.5 L I6
28
DNF
Gr.5 66 Martini Racing Riccardo Patrese
Hans Heyer
Piercarlo Ghinzani
Lancia Beta Monte Carlo P 186
Lancia 1.4 L Turbo I4
29
DNF
S
+2.0
21 Alain de Cadenet
Dorset Racing Associates
Martin Birrane
Nick Faure
Vivian Candy
De Cadenet-Lola LM D 171
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8
30
DNF
S
+2.0
23 Dome Co. Ltd. Chris Craft
Bob Evans
Dome RL81 D 154
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8
31
DNF
IMSA
GTX
40 Joest Racing Mauricio de Narváez
Kenper Miller
Günther Steckkönig
Porsche 935J D 152
Porsche Type-935 2.8 L Turbo Flat-6
32
DNF
IMSA
GTX
48 Simon Phillips Simon Phillips
Mike Salmon
Steve Earle
Ferrari 512BB/LM M 140
Ferrari 4.9 L Flat-12
33
DNF
IMSA
GTX
45 Scuderia Supercar Bellancauto SRL Fabrizio Violati
Maurizio Flammini
Duilio Truffo
Ferrari 512BB/LM M 118
Ferrari 4.9L Flat-12
34
DNF
S
+2.0
22 André Chevalley Racing Patrick Gaillard
André Chevalley
Bruno Sotty
ACR 80B G 114
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8
35
DNF
IMSA
GTO
37 Mazdaspeed Co. Ltd. Tetsu Ikuzawa
Tom Walkinshaw
Peter Lovett
Mazda RX-7 D 107
Mazda 13B 1.3 L 2-Rotor
36
DNF
S
2.0
30 Jean-Marie Lemerle Jean-Marie Lemerle
Max Cohen-Olivar
Alain Levié
Lola T298 G 104
BMW 2.0 L I4
37
DNF
S
+2.0
27 Ian Bracey Tiff Needell
Tony Trimmer
Ibec-Hesketh 308LM D 95
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8
38
DNF
S
+2.0
10 Porsche Kremer Racing Bob Wollek
Xavier Lapeyre
Guy Chasseuil
Porsche 917K/81 D 82
Porsche 4.9 L Flat-12
39
DNF
S
+2.0
14 Joest Racing Reinhold Joest
Dale Whittington
Klaus Niedzwiedz
Porsche 908/80 D 80
Porsche 2.1 L Turbo Flat-6
40
DNF
S
+2.0
24 Otis Jean Rondeau Jean Rondeau
Jean-Pierre Jaussaud
Rondeau M379 G 58
Ford Cosworth DFL 3.3 L V8
41
DNF
Gr.5 59 Porsche Kremer Racing Ted Field
Bill Whittington
Don Whittington
Porsche 935 K3 G 57
Porsche Type-935 3.2 L Turbo Flat-6
42
DNF
IMSA
GTX
50 BASF Cassetten Team GS Sport Hans Joachim Stuck
Jean-Pierre Jarier
Helmut Henzler
BMW M1 Gr.5 D 57
BMW M88 3.5 L I6
43
DNF
C 83 WM A.E.R.E.M. Jean-Daniel Raulet
Marcel Mamers
WM P81 M 50
Peugeot PRV 2.7 L Turbo V6
44
DNF
Gr.5 69 Tuff-Kote Dinol Racing Jan Lundgårdh
Axel Plankenhorn
Mike Wilds
Porsche 935 L1 "Baby" D 49
Porsche 1.4 L Turbo Flat-6
45
DNF
GT 71 Helmut Marko RSM Christian Danner
Peter Oberndofer
Prince Leopold von Bayern
BMW M1 D 49
BMW M88 3.5 L I6
46
DNF
Gr.5 61 Weralit Racing Team Edgar Dören
Jürgen Lässig
Gerhard Holup
Porsche 935 K3 D 48
Porsche Type-935 3.0 L Turbo Flat-6
47
DNF
Gr.5 67 Martini Racing Beppe Gabbiani
Emanuele Pirro
Lancia Beta Monte Carlo P 47
Lancia 1.4 L Turbo I4
48
DNF
GTP
+3.0
5 WM A.E.R.E.M. Guy Fréquelin
Roger Dorchy
Xavier Mathiot
WM P79/80 M 46
Peugeot PRV 2.7vL Turbo V6
49
DNF
IMSA
GTX
41 Preston Henn Racing Preston Henn
Mike Chandler
Marcel Mignot
Porsche 935 K3 D 45
Porsche Type-935 3.0L Turbo Flat-6
50
DNF
S
+2.0
26 Oceanic Jean Rondeau Henri Pescarolo
Patrick Tambay
Rondeau M379 G 41
Ford Cosworth DFL 3.3 L V8
51
DNF
GT 73 Eminence Racing Team Jean-Marie Alméras
Jacques Alméras
Porsche 924 Carrera GTR M 30
Porsche 2.0 L Turbo I4
52
DNF
S
+2.0
25 Calberson Jean Rondeau Jean Ragnotti
Jean-Louis Lafosse
Rondeau M379 G 28
Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 L V8
53
DNF
IMSA
GTO
38 Mazdaspeed Co. Ltd. Yojiro Terada
Hiroshi Fushida
Win Percy
Mazda RX-7 D 25
Mazda 13B 1.3 L 2-Rotor
54
DNF
C 82 WM A.E.R.E.M. Thierry Boutsen
Serge Saulnier
Michel Pignard
WM P81 M 15
Peugeot PRV 2.7 L Turbo V6
55
DNF
IMSA
GTO
35 Stratagraph Inc. Cale Yarborough
Billy Hagan
Bill Cooper
Chevrolet Camaro G 13
Chevrolet 6.4 L V8

Statistics

  • Pole Position - #11 Porsche System - 3:29.44
  • Fastest Lap - #12 Porsche System - 3:34.00
  • Distance - 4825.348 km
  • Average Speed - 201.056 km/h

Trophy Winners

  • Index of Thermal Efficiency - #31 Jean-Philippe Grand
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