1953 24 Hours of Le Mans
|1953 24 Hours of Le Mans|
|Previous: 1952||Next: 1954|
|Index: Races | Winners|
The 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 21st Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 13 and 14 June 1953, at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans (France). It was also the third round of the F.I.A. World Sports Car Championship. 
Following the 1952 débâcle at la Sarthe, Jaguar was anxious to make amends. And this time it boasted an innovation which worked – disc brakes. The inclusion of these at the expense of the traditional drum gave the Coventry outfit and their drivers, a crucial advantage, allowing them to brake later into corners. The team, which won in 1951 with Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead, entered three works C-Types – to be driven by Walker and Stirling Moss, Whitehead and Ian Stewart, and, as reserves Tony Rolt and Duncan Hamilton. The later pair would only be able to race if one of the 60 accepted starters dropped out beforehand. Rolt and Hamilton waited more in hope, but by Friday evening nobody had withdrawn. They were duly informed that their services would not be required. 
Following an accident during practice, Juan Jover suffered very serious leg injuries to his left leg when he crashed his Pegaso Z-102. Jover misjudged his speed while approaching the corner after the Dunlop bridge and hit the barriers, Jover was expelled from the car. This resulted in Pegaso withdrawing both their entries. Whilst this was going on Rolt and Hamilton did what more sportsman do in their circumstances – they went out and got drunk… very drunk. It was in the early hours of Saturday morning, that Jaguar team manager, Lofty England caught up the pair and informed them that they were racing after all. The news that in 12 hours’ time they would be racing at 100mph should have an instant sobering effect, but they were still feeling decidedly the worse for wear on the afternoon. As neither driver relished the prospect of taking the start, they tossed a coin to decide who would not start. Rolt lost. 
The major Italian teams, Scuderia Ferrari, S.P.A. Alfa Romeo and Scuderia Lancia had built new cars for this race: powerful V12s, in-line sixes and supercharged V6s. With their bulging bodywork, scoops and vents, they looked purposeful. Ferrari’s hope were defended by a Ferrari 340 MM Berlinetta with a 4.5 litre engine for Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, backed up by three 4.1 litre 340 MMs. Lancia entered four D20 Coupés, fitted with 2.7 litre supercharged engines as well as twin overhead camshafts per bank of cylinders. 
On the driver front, they boasted every World Champion and every Grand Prix winner to date with the exception of Luigi Fagioli: Ferrari had Ascari and Giuseppe Farina, Piero Taruffi and José Froilán González were with Lancia. Juan Manuel Fangio was at Alfa Romeo. 
A new 2.5 litre Gordini debuted and the Talbots had modified bodywork, was the best hope for the French teams. Fresh from their Sebring victory, Briggs Cunningham arrived from Florida, with a new Cunningham C5-R with a 310bhp Chrysler engine under its streamlined bonnet, while Allards had their trusty V8 Cadillac fitted into a new chassic, J2R. Meanwhile, Aston Martin entered three of their DB3S. The entry suggested that this was always going to be a Sarthe classic, with 19 marques officially represented adding up to 50 works cars out of the 60 starters. 
At 4:00pm on the Saturday, the flag fell and the race was on. At the end of the first lap, the Allard led the field, which was closely bunched behind. The first few laps at Le Mans means very little and it was not until after the 30 minutes that the true picture really become close. Rolt had already put in a lap record at 96.48mph, while Moss led the way, closely followed by Villoresi, Tom Cole, Rolt, John Fitch, with Karl Kling rounding out the top six. Sydney Allard early lead lasted hardly any time, and by lap four he had to retire with a collapsed rear suspension that severed a brake pipe. Moss was also in trouble. Although he had smoothly pilled away from the chasing pack, until a misfire set in. His subsequent unplanned pitstop for spark plugs, plus another later to the eventual cure – removal of a clogged fuel filter. At least Jaguar remembered the pit regulations. Ferrari topped up the brake system on Mike Hawthorn’s 340 MM before the specified 28 laps had been completed, thereby Hawthorn/Farina were disqualified. Whilst all this was going on, Villoresi had taken the lead. 
By 5:00pm, the order had settled down, and it became clear that the Jaguars, Ferraris and Alfa Romeos were the forces to be reckoned with. The Lancias and Talbots were quite outclassed, as was the Aston Martins. Consalvo Sanesi in his Alfa Romeo 6C, continued to lower the fastest lap, with Rolt moving into the lead for Jaguar. Just before 6:00pm, Fangio retired with engine troubles in his Alfa Romeo. The pace continued at a fantastic pace and now it was Jaguar setting it. At the three hour mark, Rolt/Hamilton led from Ascari/Villoresi, followed by Cole and his partner, Luigi Chinetti, Sanesi with Piero Carini, and the Germans of Kling and Fritz Riess. Already these five cars had pull out a two lap advantage over the rest of the field. 
As darkness fell, the Ferrari-Jaguar battle continued unabated, between Ascari/Villeoresi and Rolt/Hamilton, with the Alfa Romeos close behind. During the early hours of the morning, Rolt/Hamilton contined to lead with no sign of tiring, while Ascari/Villoresi was now losing ground. By 3:00am, the rear suspension on Sanesi/Carini car has collapsed, and they were out, along with George Abecassis and Roy Salvadori as oil was getting into their Aston Martin’s clutch. 
Although the Ascari and Villeroesi still was taking the fight to the Jaguars, the car was lame, for it was suffering from a sticking clutch and drinking a lot of water. However, the Italians, in a win-or-burst attempt were driving flat out at all times, but it had no effect on Rolt and Hamilton. Their Jaguar now had a lap lead over the Ferrari. 
Despite the night being very clear and fine, dawn approached a certain amount of mist in the air, making driving conditions very tiring. The windscreen on the leading Jaguar had been smashed early in the race, and as result Rolt and Hamilton were suffering from wind buffering, but the pair kept up the pace, nevertheless, with an average speed of well over 105mph. By the time the mist had cleared, Rolt and Hamilton still lead by a lap ahead of the Ascari and Villoresi’s lame Ferrari. Third place was over three adrift was the Cunningham of Fitch/Walters. A lap further back was the fast Jaguars of Moss/Walker and Whitehead/Stewart. It was during this period, when disaster struck at Maison Blanche, when Cole crashed his Ferrari and was killed instantly. 
Shortly after 8:30am, the leading Jaguar and Ferrari both made routine refuelling stops at the same time, while Moss moved up to third when the Cunningham came for its stop. At 9:00am, the lame Ferrari was dropping back, and was now back in fifth place, following clutch issues. Rolt and Hamilton were now clear up front, but they could not rest as the American of Fitch/Waters started to challenge the Moss/Walker Jaguar for second place. 
The lame Ferrari retired at 11:00am having dropped down the order to sixth place. This left only the Marzotto car to challenge the Jaguars and the lead Cunningham. It could not do it and raced to finish in fifth, keeping the Gordini of Maurice Trintignant and Harry Schell behind them. 
With three hours to ago, the Jaguars were still lapping at over 105mph, however the pace had slackened a little. In the closing stages the order did not change, as Hamilton took over from Rolt to complete the last stage of the race, they were followed home by Moss, Fitch, Stewart, Giannino Marzotto, and Trintignant. 
Rolt and Hamilton driving their British license plated Jaguar C-Type, to victory covering a distance of 2,555.04 miles (4,088.064km), over 304 laps, averaging a speed of 106.46mph (170.336km/h). Their team-mates, Moss and Walker were four lap adrift at the finish, in second place was their C-Type. The podium was completed by Walters and Fitch, in their Cunningham-Chrysler C5-R. The third works Jaguar finished fourth, two laps behind the Americans. The fourth Jaguar, entered by Ecurie Francorchamps for Roger Laurent and Charles de Tornaco, although supported the works team, with a standard C-Type, but still finished in ninth place. 
Not Classified if failed to cover 70% of winner's distance (213 laps)
Class Winners are in Bold text.
|Sport +8000||no finishers|
|Sports 8000||2||Cunningham-Chrysler C5-R||Walters / Fitch|
|Sports 5000||18||Jaguar C-Type||Rolt / Hamilton|
|Sports 3000||35||Gordini T24S||Trintignant / Schell|
|Sports 2000||39||Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupé||Wharton / Mitchell|
|Sports 1500||45||Porsche 550 Coupé||von Frankenberg / Frère|
|Sports 1100||48||O.S.C.A. MT4 1100||Damonte / “Moynet”|
|Sports 750||57||DB HBR||Bonnet / Moynet|
|Sport 500||no starters|
|Biennial Cup||61||Panhard X88||Chancel / Chancel|
|Index of Performance||61||Panhard X88||Chancel / Chancel|
Standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included in this set of standings.
Championship points were awarded for the first six places in each race in the order of 8-6-4-3-2-1. Manufacturers were only awarded points for their highest finishing car with no points awarded for positions filled by additional cars. Only the best 4 results out of the 7 races could be retained by each manufacturer. Points earned but not counted towards the championship totals are listed within brackets in the above table.
- "Le Mans 24 Hours 1953". Racing Sports Cars. 1953-06-14. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
- Geoff Tibballs, “Motor-Racing’s Strangest Races" (Robson Books, ISBN 1 86105 411 4, 2001)
- "8W - What? - Milano". 8w.forix.com. 1950-10-29. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
- "le mans 1953". Sportscars.tv. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
- "Le Mans 1953: Jaguar's gigantic leap - History, Le Mans". Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
- "1953 Le Mans 24 Hours report - History, Le Mans". Motor Sport Magazine. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
- "1953 24 Hours of Le Mans Results and Competitors". Experiencelemans.com. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
- 8/26/10 12:30pm 8/26/10 12:30pm. "1953 24 Hours of Le Mans: Night of the Disc Brakes". Jalopnik.com. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
- "1953 Le Mans 24 Hrs". Teamdan.com. 1953-06-14. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
|World Sportscar Championship|
|1953 season||Next race:
Spa 24 Hours