Here is the start of the 50th 24 Heures du Mans, held on June 19-20, 1982. It marked the beginning of the Group C years. The traditional run-to-your-cars Le Mans start ended after the 1969 race and in 1971 a rolling start was adopted. Nevertheless, there was still a big risk with a large crowd standing right by the edge of the track at pit out.
As the field charges into the Dunlop Curve at the start of the 24 Hours up front are two Rothmans Porsche 956s. Car n. 1 was on pole with Belgian Jacky Ickx and Englishman Derek Bell and had a relatively uneventful race to win by 41 km from the n. 2 Porsche 956 which was driven by Jochen Mass and Vern Shuppan. Third place went to a third Rothmans Porsche, carrying n. 3 and assigned to Hurley Haywood, Al Holbert and Jürgen Barth. The new Porsche 956 destroyed the opposition. The Cosworth V8-engined cars, such as the new Ford C100 and some of the very quick Rondeaus and Lolas were expected to give Porsche some real competition, but the German team from Stuttgart had them covered and the Cosworths failed to last.
Jackie Ickx and Derek Bell were both great Le Mans endurance drivers with a combined total of 11 wins, standing second and third on the list of multiple Le Mans winners behind Tom Kristensen’s astounding nine wins. That is one record that should stand for many years.
Photo by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com