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Jacques Bernard "Jacky" Ickx (last name pronounced "Ix" or "Icks") (born 1 January 1945 in Brussels) is a Belgian former racing driver who won the highly prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans six times, and he also achieved eight wins and 25 podium finishes in Formula One, and is a former winner of the Dakar Rally.
- 1 Racing career
- 2 Awards
- 3 In popular culture
- 4 Personal life
- 5 See also
- 6 Racing record
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Jacky Ickx was introduced to the sport when he was taken by his father, motoring journalist Jacques Ickx, to races which he covered. Despite this family background, Jacky had limited interest in the sport until his father bought him a 50 cc Zundapp motorcycle. Soon afterwards, Ickx won 8 of 13 races at the first season and the European 50 cc trials title. He took another two titles before he moved to racing a Lotus Cortina in touring car racing, taking his national saloon car championship in 1965, as well as winning the Spa 24 Hours race in 1966 driving a BMW 2000TI. He also competed in sports car races where he had already significant experience from taking part in the 1000 km races at the Nürburgring.
Ickx entered his first Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in 1967, driving a Matra Formula Two (F2) car. Despite the greater power of the Formula One (F1) cars, only two F1 drivers qualified with a faster time than he did: Denny Hulme and Jim Clark. As Ickx was racing in the separate F2 class, he started the race behind all of the F1 cars, but within four laps of the 28 km circuit he was up to fifth place, having overtaken 12 F1 cars. His front suspension broke and he was forced to retire after 12 laps, but he had made a strong impression on the F1 team managers.
At Monza, he made his F1 debut in a Cooper-Maserati, finishing sixth. In 1968 Ickx drove an F1 car for Ferrari. He retired from his first two races, but at his home race at Spa-Francorchamps he started from the front row and finished 3rd. At the French Grand Prix at Rouen he took his first win, in heavy rain. Ickx also finished third at Brands Hatch and fourth at the Nürburgring after driving almost the entire race in heavy rain without his helmet visor. At Monza he finished the race in third position. In Canada he crashed and broke his left leg, which meant he could not compete for the two following Grand Prix.
In 1969, Ickx chose to drive for the Brabham team. His first results were poor, but after Brabham broke his foot in a testing accident, Ickx's results improved: Alan Henry suggests that Ickx performed better with the whole team focussed on him. Ickx finished third in France, second in Great Britain and won in Canada and in Germany at the Nürburgring, the last Formula One race there before 'The Ring' was made less bumpy and dangerous. In the 1969 Mexican Grand Prix Ickx finished second and became runner-up in the drivers' world championship. He returned to the Ferrari team for the 1970 season, a move he had been considering since the Italian Grand Prix.
As in 1969, he had a weak start to the 1970 season. During the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix he had a crash and his car caught fire. It took at least 20 seconds for him to leave the burning car and was hospitalized with severe burns. After 17 days he was back in his car at the Monaco Grand Prix, where he ran fifth before retiring with a driveshaft failure. The car started to improve and at the German Grand Prix (held at Hockenheimring as his favourite Nürburgring was boycotted for safety reasons) he fought with Jochen Rindt for the win, but finished a close second. At the Austrian Grand Prix it was Ickx that took the win. At Monza fate struck and Rindt lost his life during free practice. Ickx was the only driver with a chance to take the championship from Rindt who had already won five of nine races in that season, with four more to go. Monza saw a win by Ferrari team-mate Clay Regazzoni while Ickx's car broke down. The Belgian took the win at Canada but in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen he only finished fourth, with Emerson Fittipaldi scoring his first win for Lotus as well as the Championships for the team and his late team-mate. Despite winning the last race in Mexico, Ickx could not beat Rindt's points total. Ickx later stated in a 2010 article in the British magazine Motor Sport, that he was glad he didn't win the 1970 World Championship. He did not want to win against a man who could not defend his chances, referring to the stricken Rindt.
In 1971, Ickx and Ferrari started as favourites, but the championship went to Jackie Stewart with the new Tyrrell. Ferrari traditionally started the season with its full attention on the sports car championship rather than Formula One, a fact that had already caused John Surtees to leave in the middle of the 1966 season. Ickx won at Zandvoort in the rain with Firestone wet tyres, while Stewart had no chance with his Goodyear rubber. After that, he had a lot of retirements, while Stewart took one win after the other, despite Ickx giving him a good challenge on the Nürburgring once again, where both drivers shared victories from 1968 to 1973. That long and very challenging track was the favourite of Ickx, while Stewart had called it the 'Green Hell' as well as being a driving force behind the driver boycott of 1970 that urged the Germans to rework the layout of the track, which had been built in 1927. Stewart said the only thing that had changed since then were the trees growing bigger. As requested, those near the track were cut and replaced with a small run-off areas plus armco. So, the Scot and the Belgian not only fought on the track, but also off the track. Stewart was constantly fighting for more safety in Formula One, while Ickx thought by doing that the challenge was taken out of the sport.
In 1972, Ickx stayed at Ferrari and finished second in Spain and Monaco. After that the Ferrari only got noticed for its retirements. Yet, once again it was the Nürburgring where Ickx was eager to show it was his track, giving his great rival Stewart no chance at all. As for Stewart one year later, and other champions such as Juan Manuel Fangio in 1957, it turned out that the last Formula One win for Ickx came at Nürburgring, where superior driving skill could beat superior machinery.
In 1973, the Ferrari 312B3 was no longer competitive, and Ickx only managed one fourth place during the opening Grand Prix of the season. While being successful with their sports cars, which were driven to several wins by Ickx himself, the Formula One programme of the Italians was outclassed, and they even had to skip some races, notably at the Nürburgring. This was not acceptable to Ickx, who left the team halfway through the season. Instead, he raced the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in a McLaren, and scored a sterling third place behind the all-conquering Tyrrells of Stewart and François Cevert.
When Ickx signed with Team Lotus in 1974, a difficult period awaited. Lotus had problems replacing the successful but aging Lotus 72 (which debuted in 1970) with the troublesome Lotus 76 and, during the opening races of the championship, Ickx only managed a solitary third place in Brazil. Ickx demonstrated that he was still the Rain Master when he won the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch after having passed Niki Lauda by the outside at Paddock Bend. After the Brazilian Grand Prix his season went downwards with the results of the Lotus-Ford. However mid season Ickx, recovered some form, rising through the field in the British Grand Prix to finish a strong third. Even better was his drive in the German Grand Prix. For most of the race Ickx dueled for fourth place with his teammate Ronnie Peterson who was using a Lotus 76, which had been grafted to the back end of a Lotus 72, Mike Hailwood in an M23 McLaren and tyro Jochen Mass in a Surtees running on his home circuit on Firestone tyres well suited to the circuit. It was a classic duel on the daunting circuit, which still lacked armco around half the track in 1974. Two laps from the end Hailwood crashed badly ending his F1 career. On the last two laps Ickx was getting close to 3rd place Carlos Reutemann, but on the final lap, Ronnie Peterson slipstreamed past to claim 4th. In Austria, Ickx, this time in the Lotus 76, moved up the field but went off while attempting to take Depallier for second. In the last races of the year, tyre issues with Goodyears unsuitable for the Lotus 72 and 76 rendered Lotus hopelessly off the pace.
1975 was even more disastrous for Lotus and Ickx left the team halfway through the season, even though he managed a second place in the chaotic Grand Prix of Spain which was overshadowed by accidents and stopped before half distance. Ickx was generally qualifying about 0.8 seconds slower than the ultra-quick Peterson (Ickx was not the only driver to suffer from Peterson's blinding pace: Mario Andretti, running with just a four lap fuel load, could not get within 2 seconds of Peterson on a full tank in the same car(!) during practice for the British GP in 1978). Ickx was stood down after the 1975 French GP with the promise that Chapman might reemploy him when a competitive new Lotus was ready to race.
It seemed however if the end of his career was near. After Fittipaldi left McLaren, Ickx was favoured to get the drive, but tobacco company promoter John Hogan preferred Hunt. In 1976 Ickx signed with the new teams of Walter Wolf Racing, which had substantial financial backing from Wolf. Unfortunately, the car, essentially a re-badged Hesketh 308C, was awful, but at the Race of Champions, Ickx was challenging Hunt and Alan Jones for the lead, when Ickx's visor ripped off. Usually in the world championship races he failed to qualify, achieving a degree of respectability only with a 7th in Spain and a good drive to 10th out of 19 finishers in the French GP in a car which, in the estimate of James Hunt and Chris Amon, was worse than useless. Nevertheless for a large payment from Wolf, Amon agreed to swap drives with Ickx and Ickx raced the rest of the season in the fast and fragile Lotus styled Ensign N22, which Amon had suffered horrific breakages at Zolder and in the Swedish Gp Ensign. For most of the Dutch GP, Ickx moved through the field, running the third fastest lap and on most laps was the fastest car in the race. With a newer Cosworth, Ickx probably would have won, but the under-maintained engine expired ten laps from the end. In the Italian GP, Ickx drove at competitive pace in F1 for the last time, when he finished tenth, only 30 seconds behind winner Ronnie Peterson, hard on the tail of Carlos Reutemann in a works Ferrari 312T2 in ninth. After a bad crash at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen which he was lucky to have survived with only ankle injuries, Ickx never really tried again in F1, only competing sporadically. In 1979 he ended his career as a Grand Prix driver at Ligier, gaining a fifth and sixth, but finding the ground effect cars dangerous and disconcerting, ill suited to his precise style. Outside of Formula One, Ickx continued to win races in various sports car series, which he had decided to concentrate on exclusively.
In 1979, in the newly-reborn Can-Am series for rebodied covered wheel F5000 cars, Ickx won against strong opposition from Keke Rosberg, Elliot Forbes Robinson and Bobby Rahal. Formula One fledgling Rosberg drove his Can Am car with ferocity, but often went off the road trying to match the pace of Ickx, who won the series decisively at the season finale at Riverside. The previous weekend, on the dangerous and undulating Laguna Seca circuit at Monterey, Ickx elected to race conservatively rather than going after leaders Forbes Robertson and Rosberg, but film of the race indicates the brutal nature of this late generation of Can Am racing. Ickx did not return to defend his title the following season.
In 1969 Jacky Ickx raced in the 24 hours of Le Mans for the first time. This race also saw the first appearance of the Porsche 917 in Le Mans, which was regarded by far as the favourite. The Ford GT40 that Ickx drove with Jackie Oliver appeared at that time was an obsolete car, outperformed by the new Porsche 917 but also by the older Porsche 908 and the new generation of 3-litre prototypes from Ferrari, Matra and Alfa Romeo.
As Ickx was opposed to the traditional Le Mans start which he considered to be dangerous, he slowly walked across the track to his machine, instead of running. He locked the safety belt carefully and thus was the last to start the race, chasing the field. On lap one, a tragic event proved that Ickx was right: private driver John Woolfe, who had not taken time to belt himself in, had a fatal accident in his new and powerful 917.
During the race the Porsche 917 proved unreliable, and none was to finish. The last four hours of the race turned into a duel between the Porsche 908 of Hans Herrmann/Gérard Larrousse and the Ford GT-40 of Ickx/Oliver. In the last hour, Ickx and Herrmann continually leapfrogged each other, the Porsche being faster on the straights owing to having less aerodynamic drag, while being passed again under braking as the brake pads were worn and the team reckoned there was not enough time left to change them. Ickx won the race by the smallest of competitive margins ever, with less than 120 yards (110 m) between the two cars, despite having lost a bigger distance intentionally at the start. He also won his case for safety: from 1970, all drivers could start the race sitting in their cars with the belts tightened properly.
In later years, Ickx won a record six times at the 24h race at Le Mans, becoming known as "Monsieur Le Mans". Three of the wins were with Derek Bell: this would become one of the most legendary partnerships. In 2005, Tom Kristensen surpassed Ickx's record and as of 2013 has nine victories.
From 1976 on, he was a factory driver for Porsche and their new turbocharged race cars, the 935 and especially the 936 sports car, which he drove to wins in Le Mans three times. These drives, as well as the losing effort in 1978, often in the rain and at night, were some of the finest ever. Jacky Ickx considers the 1977 24 Hours of Le Mans race to be his favourite win of all time. Retiring earlier on in another Porsche 936, which he shared with Henri Pescarolo, the team transferred him to the car of Jürgen Barth and Hurley Haywood which was in 42nd place. Ickx made up for lost laps to lead the race by early morning, but suffered a mechanical problem which forced the car to pit. The mechanics resolved the issue by switching off one cylinder, and Ickx went on to win the race. The win in 1982 came with the new and superior 956 model, though, which carried him to two titles as world champion of endurance racing, in 1982 and 1983.
In 1983, Ickx was the team leader at Porsche, but a new teammate was faster than he was: young German Stefan Bellof set new lap records at the Nürburgring in the last ever sports car race held on the original configuration of Ickx's favourite track. As it turned out, Ickx and Bellof would become involved in controversial events later on.
In 1984, Ickx acted as Formula One race director in Monaco, and red-flagged the race because of rain, just as leader Alain Prost in a Porsche-powered McLaren was caught by a young Ayrton Senna. Also, Stefan Bellof had started from the back of the grid, as his underpowered Tyrrell-Cosworth could not provide extra boost in qualifying like the turbos of all others. Yet, in the wet race, he managed to pass many others and was on pace for catching both Senna and Prost when Ickx decided to stop the race. That saved the win for Prost, but owing to the short distance covered overall, only half the points for the win were awarded (4.5), less than for a second place in a full race (6). Prost subsequently lost the 1984 championship to Lauda by half a point.
In 1985, Ickx was involved with Bellof again, but with tragic consequences. Bellof raced a privateer Porsche while waiting to join the Ferrari F1 team in 1986, which had promised him a seat after his performance in Monaco, similar to what they had done for Lauda after he outclassed Ickx there in 1973. At Spa, Ickx's home track, the young German in the private Porsche 956 of Walter Brun tried to pass the experienced Belgian in the factory Porsche 962 for 1st place after being held up by Ickx for 3 laps. At Eau Rouge corner, Bellof attempted the pass with disastrous consequences, as Ickx closed the door and the cars collided and crashed, Bellof tragically dying an hour later, while Ickx was shaken but unharmed. He retired from professional circuit racing at the end of the season.
24 hours of Le Mans victories
- 1969 - Jacky Ickx / Jackie Oliver (Ford GT-40)
- 1975 - Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell (Mirage GR8)
- 1976 - Jacky Ickx / Gijs van Lennep (Porsche 936)
- 1977 - Jacky Ickx / Hurley Haywood / Jürgen Barth (Porsche 936)
- 1981 - Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell (Porsche 936)
- 1982 - Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell (Porsche 956)
Ickx also co-drove to victory with Allan Moffat at the 1977 Hardie-Ferodo 1000 in Australia, becoming the last debutant to win the race until 2011, when Nick Percat matched this feat parterning two time winner Garth Tander, became champion of Can-Am in 1979, and won the Rally Paris-Dakar in 1983 in a Mercedes-Benz G-Class. The victory at the Bathurst 1000 was in a Ford XC Falcon Group C Touring Car manufactured in Australia with limited modifications for racing. After only days practice in a car he had never driven before he was doing lap times the same or quicker than drivers who drove nothing else and who were familiar with the circuit.
One of his other Le Mans 24 hour victories in a non-driving capacity was when he consulted for the Oreca team who were running a Mazda 787B for Mazdaspeed in 1991. Ickx was also selected to participate in the 1978 and 1984 editions of the International Race of Champions.
After he retired from his professional racing career, he continued to compete in the Paris-Dakar Rally, even competing with daughter Vanina in recent years. Nowadays, he appears in historic events as a driver, such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Monterey Historics, usually on behalf of Porsche and Ferrari. He still acts as the Clerk of the Course for the Monaco Grand Prix and is still a resident of Brussels.
- Awarded the Honorary Citizen of Le Mans prior to the 2000 race, the first sports person to do so.
- Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2002.
In popular culture
- Jacky Ickx, Gilles Villeneuve or Jacques Laffite had been believed to be the unidentified driver in the 1976 short film C'était un rendez-vous, yet it turned out that director Claude Lelouch himself drove through Paris.
- Jacky often appears in the famous Belgian Comics Michel Vaillant, as one of the main characters
- The Chopard Company developed three limited edition Chopard Mille Miglia Jacky Ickx Men's watches dedicated to the legendary racer. The fourth Chopard watch honouring Jacky Ickx was designed with cooperation of the champion.
Complete Formula One World Championship results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results
|1966||Ret||Essex Wire Corporation||Ford GT40 Mk.I||S 5.0|
|1967||Ret||John Wyer Automotive Engineering||Mirage M1||P +5.0|
|1969||1||John Wyer Automotive Engineering||Ford GT40 Mk.I||S 5.0|
|1970||Ret||SpA Ferrari SEFAC||Ferrari 512S||S 5.0|
|1973||Ret||SpA Ferrari SEFAC||Ferrari 312PB||S 3.0|
|1975||1||Gulf Research Racing Co.||Mirage GR8||S 3.0|
|1976||1||Martini Racing Porsche System||Porsche 936||S 3.0|
|1977||1||Martini Racing Porsche System||Porsche 936/77||S +2.0|
|1978||2||Martini Racing Porsche System||Porsche 936/78||S +2.0|
|1979||Ret||Essex Motorsport Porsche||Porsche 936||S +2.0|
|1980||2||Equipe Liqui Moly - Martini Racing||Porsche 908/80||S +2.0|
|1981||1||Porsche System||Porsche 936||S +2.0|
|1982||1||Rothmans Porsche System||Porsche 956||C|
|1983||2||Rothmans Porsche||Porsche 956||C|
|1985||10||Rothmans Porsche||Porsche 962C||C1|
Complete European Formula Two Championship results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
|1967||Tyrrell Racing Organisation||Matra MS5 F2||Cosworth
- Henry (1985) p.85 "Interestingly, the somewhat unpredictable Belgian rose to the occasion in superb fashion and seemed able to produce more impressive form when the effort was concentrated on him exclusively rather than being shared with the boss."
- Henry (1985) p.89
- "Mercedes-Benz G-Class History". Edmunds. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- Chopard Company to Honor Jacky Ickx
- "Jacky Ickx and his wife Khadja Nin are sighted leaving the 'Hermitage' hotel to attend the Royal Wedding of Prince Albert II of Monaco to Charlene Wittstock in the main courtyard at on July 2, 2011 in Monaco, Monaco.".
- "DRIVER: Ickx, Jacky". Autocourse Grand prix Archive. Archived from the original on 2007-12-22. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- "Europe’s Mr Versatility". 8W. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- "Tribute to Jacky Ickx". Jacky-Ickx-Fan.net. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- "Drivers: Jacky Ickx". GrandPrix.com. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- "Jacky Ickx". Grand Prix Racing. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- "Chopard Company to Honor Jacky Ickx". Watches Channel Infoniac. Retrieved 2007-12-12.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jacky Ickx.|
- Official Jacky Ickx Website
- Jacky Ickx miniature book, hosted by the University of North Texas Libraries Digital Collections