1981 24 Hours of Le Mans

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1981 24 Hours of Le Mans
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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.

Pre-race[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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

Statistics[edit]

  • 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[edit]

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