1959 24 Hours of Le Mans

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1959 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Index: Races | Winners

The 24 Heures du Mans was the 27th 24 Hours of Le Mans, Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 21 and 22 June 1959, on Circuit de la Sarthe. It was also the fourth round of the F.I.A. World Sports Car Championship. Some 150,000 spectators had gathered for Europe’s classic sports car race, around an 8.38-mile course. The prospect of an exciting duel between Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche was enough to draw large crowds to the 24 Hours race.

Le Mans in 1959

Report[edit]

Entry[edit]

A grand total 97 racing cars were registered for this event, of which only 54 when allowed to practice, trying to qualify for the 54 places for the race. The number of starters was fixed at 54 following some regulations changes prior to the 1957 event.[1]

Aston Martin, fresh from their triumph on the 1000km of Nürburgring with their DBR1/300, arrived at Le Sarthe with an incredibly strong driver line-up in order to give themselves chance of victory. David Brown Racing Dept. brought along three cars, to be driven by Stirling Moss/Jack Fairman, Roy Salvadori/Carroll Shelby and Maurice Trintignant/Paul Frère.[2][3]

Up against the English team would be no fewer than six Ferrari 250 TRs, entered by numerous teams including Scuderia Ferrari and North American Racing Team. The works squad of drivers included 1958 winners, Phil Hill/Olivier Gendebien, and they were joined by Jean Behra/Dan Gurney and Hermano da Silva Ramos/Cliff Allison. In addition to the Ferraris, there would be a pair of Listers and five Porsches, just raring to go for overall victory.[4]

Qualifying[edit]

Qualifying was held over two sessions for a total of 540 minutes over the 17 and 18 June, a few days prior to the race.[5]

Race[edit]

When the French tricolour fell at 16:00, it was Moss who would make the best getaway, and lead the field around the Dunlop curve and over the hill toward the esses. By the end of the lap, Moss was leading from the chasing Ferraris. For lap after lap, the red cars appeared to be on the hunt, chasing Moss. The Astons were considered to be the long-shots for race victory. They would have to have a proper strategy for the entire race and pray that providence would see their cars through to the end, at the head of the field.[6][7]

Prior to the race, the management at David Brown Racing Dept., who ran the Aston Martins decided to send Moss and Fairman out as hares, to try an induce the Ferraris to chase them. And chased them, they did as the plan worked brilliantly. Moss and Fairman lead the way and the Ferraris were obliged to follow. This was torture for the No.4 car, trying to maintain such a pace, and after 70 laps, the car suffered engine failure and the English pairing were out of the race, but the tactic had worked. The pace wouldn’t just take its toll on the Ferraris, as the sole Jaguar D-Type of Innes Ireland and Masten Gregory retired on the same lap as the Aston. In all, by lap 100, twenty-three cars would be out of the race.[8][9]

However, unfortunately for Aston Martin, the vast majority of the Ferraris were still running, and in the hunt. Nonetheless, the Aston Martin pairing of Salvadori and Shelby were prepared to take the fight to the Ferraris and would even have the lead as the race headed into the night-time hours. But as the dawn gave way to late morning, they were running the stronger of the surviving Astons, with their teammates, Frère and Trintignant right behind them. At 4am, the English cars had been running down in fifth and sixth place, following a chunk of tread had come off the Salvadori/Shelby car that caused some vibration issues. By noon, they managed to move through the field, to run first and second.[10][11]

Lap after lap, the two Astons would continue to hold onto the top spots. And then, finally, the race would be in final moments, with Salvadori back behind the wheel, now enjoying a full lap advantage over Trintignant. Finally, Salvadori and Brown’s Aston Martin had done it, securing victory for the English marque. In the case of Shelby, he was fighting a bout of dysentery and the side effect associated with it. Shortly after the race, the Texan would collapse and sleep for hours afterwards.[12][13]

The winning partnership, averaged a speed of 112.569 mph, and their winning margin over the second placed crew was over a lap adrift, as Trintignant finished almost behind Salvadori. Such was the pace of the Aston Martin, the third car home was 26 laps behind the winners. That car was the GT Ferrari 250 GT LWB of ”Beurlys” and ”Eldé. In the end, only 13 cars out of the 54 starters were able to complete the race, and actually just 12 could be classified as having covered the official distance.[14][15]

Official Classification[edit]

Class Winners are in Bold text.

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1st S3.0 5 United Kingdom David Brown Racing Dept. United Kingdom Roy Salvadori
United States Carroll Shelby
Aston Martin DBR1/300 Aston Martin 3.0L I6 323
2nd S3.0 6 United Kingdom David Brown Racing Dept. France Maurice Trintignant
Belgium Paul Frère
Aston Martin DBR1/300 Aston Martin 3.0L I6 322
3rd GT3.0 11 Belgium Equipe Nationale Belge Belgium ”Beurlys”
Belgium ”Eldé
Ferrari 250 GT LWB Ferrari 3.0L V12 297
4th GT3.0 18 United States North American Racing Team Belgium André Pilette
United States George Arents
Ferrari 250 GT Interim Ferrari 3.0L V12 296
5th GT3.0 16 France Fernand Tavano
United States North American Racing Team
United States Bob Grossman
France Fernand Tavano
Ferrari 250 GT California Ferrari 3.0L V12 294
6th GT3.0 20 Venezuela Lino Fayen Venezuela Lino Fayen
Italy Gino Munaron
Ferrari 250 GT LWB Interim Ferrari 3.0L V12 293
7th GT2.0 29 United Kingdom Rudd Racing Ltd. United Kingdom Ted Whiteaway
United Kingdom John Turner
AC Ace Bristol 2.0L I6 273
8th GT1.5 41 United Kingdom William S. Frost United Kingdom Peter Lumsden
United Kingdom Peter Riley
Lotus Elite Coventry Climax 1.2L I4 270
9th GT750 46 France Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet France Louis Cornet
France René Cotton
D.B. HBR4 Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 258
10th GT1.5 42 United Kingdom Border Reivers United Kingdom John Whitmore
United Kingdom Jim Clark
Lotus Elite Coventry Climax 1.2L I4 257
11th GT750 45 France Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet France Paul Armagnac
France Bernard Consten
D.B. HBR4 Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 247
12th GT750 44 Sweden Sture Nottorp Sweden Sture Nottorp
Sweden Gunnar Bengtsson
Saab 93 Saab 0.7L I3 (2-Stroke) 232

Not Classified[edit]

Failed to complete 70% of winner's distance (226 laps)

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
13th S750 55 Italy Automobili Stanguellini France Roger Delageneste
France Paul Guiraud
Stanguellini S750 Bialbero Stanguellini 0.7L I4 220

Did Not Finish[edit]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps Reason
14th S3.0 14 Italy Scuderia Ferrari Belgium Olivier Gendebien
United States Phil Hill
Ferrari 250 TR 59 Ferrari 3.0L V12 263 Overheating
15th GT2.0 25 United Kingdom Standard Triumph United Kingdom Peter Jopp
United Kingdom Dickie Stoop
Triumph TR3S Triumph 2.0L I4 245 Overheating
16th S1.5 37 United States Ed Hugus United States Ed Hugus
United States Ernie Erickson
Porsche 718 RSK Porsche 1.50L Flat-4 240 Engine
17th S1.5 35 France Jean Kerguen France Jean Kerguen
Morocco Robert La Caze
Porsche 550 RS Porsche 1.50L Flat-4 229 Clutch
18th S1.5 36 Netherlands Carel Godin de Beaufort Netherlands Carel Godin de Beaufort
Brazil Christian Heins
Porsche 718 RSK Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 186 Engine
19th GT2.0 33 United Kingdom F.W.R. Lund United Kingdom Ted Lund
United Kingdom Colin Escott
MG A Twin Cam BMC 1.6L I-4 185 Gearbox
20th S2.0 31 West Germany Porsche KG Sweden Jo Bonnier
West Germany Wolfgang von Trips
Porsche 718 RSK Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 182 Clutch
21st S1.1 49 France Roger Masson France Roger Masson
France Jean Vinatier
DB HBR 5 Panhard 0.9L Flat-2 179 Clutch
22nd S750 48 France Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet France René Bartholoni
France François Jaeger
DB HBR 5 Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 169 Clutch
23th S1.5 34 West Germany Porsche KG East Germany Edgar Barth
West Germany Wolfgang Seidel
Porsche 718 RSK Porsche 1.5L Flat-4 168 Gearbox
24th S750 53 United Kingdom Team Lotus Engineering United Kingdom Alan Stacey
United Kingdom Keith Greene
Lotus 17 Coventry Climax 0.7L I4 156 Head gasket
25th S3.0 8 United Kingdom Ecurie Ecosse United Kingdom Ron Flockhart
United Kingdom Jock Lawrence
Tojeiro Jaguar 3.0L I6 137 Overheating - Engine
26th S3.0 12 Italy Scuderia Ferrari France Jean Behra
United States Dan Gurney
Ferrari 250 TR 59 Ferrari 3.0L V12 129 Gearbox
27th S3.0 1 United Kingdom Brian Lister United Kingdom Ivor Bueb
United Kingdom Bruce Halford
Lister Costin-LM Jaguar 3.0L I6 121 Engine
28th S2.0 30 United Kingdom Team Lotus Engineering United Kingdom Graham Hill
Australia Derek Jolly
Lotus 15 Coventry Climax 2.0L I4 119 Engine
29th GT2.0 27 United Kingdom Standard Triumph United Kingdom Ninian Sanderson
Belgium Claude Dubois
Triumph TR3S Triumph 2.0L I4 114 Radiator
30th S3.0 19 United States Edwin D. Martin United States E.D. Martin
United States William Kimberly
Ferrari 250 TR 58 Ferrari 3.0L V-12 108 Gearbox
31st GT1.5 38 France Equipe Los Amigos France Jean-Claude Vidilles
France Jean-François Malle
Lotus Elite Coventry Climax 1.2L I4 105 Fire
32nd S750 52 Italy Osca Automobili France Jean Laroche
Monaco André Testut
Osca S750 Osca 0.7L I4 88 Gearbox
33rd S2.0 24 United Kingdom Cooper Car Company United Kingdom Jim Russell
New Zealand Bruce McLaren
Cooper Monaco T49 Coventry Climax 2.0L I4 79 Accident
34th S2.0 32 West Germany Porsche KG West Germany Hans Herrmann
Italy Umberto Maglioli
Porsche 718 RSK Porsche 1.6L Flat-4 78 Ignition
35th S3.0 3 United Kingdom Ecurie Ecosse United Kingdom Innes Ireland
United States Masten Gregory
Jaguar D-Type Jaguar 3.0L I6 78 Engine
36th S3.0 4 United Kingdom David Brown Racing Dept. United Kingdom Stirling Moss
United Kingdom Jack Fairman
Aston Martin DBR1/300 Aston Martin 3.0L I6 70 Engine
37th S2.0 23 Italy Scuderia Ferrari ItalyGiorgio Scarlatti
Italy Giulio Cabianca
Ferrari Dino 196 S Ferrari 1.9L V-6 63 Out of fuel
38th GT750 50 Argentina Alejandro de Tomaso United Kingdom Colin Davis
Argentina Alejandro de Tomaso
D.B. Barquette Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 63 Gearbox
39th S750 62 France Société E.F.A.C. France René Philippe Faure
France Georges Guyot
Stanguellini Efac SP5601 Fiat 0.7L I4 58 Accident
40th GT1.1 59 France Jacques Faucher France Gérard Leffargue
France Jacques Faucher
D.B. HBR4 Panhard 0.9L Flat-2 53 Engine
41st S3.0 2 United Kingdom Brian Lister United States Walt Hansgen
United Kingdom Peter Blond
Lister Costin-LM Jaguar 3.0L I6 52 Engine
42nd S3.0 7 United Kingdom A.G. Whitehead United Kingdom Graham Whitehead
United Kingdom Brian Naylor
Aston Martin DBR1/300 Aston Martin 3.0.L I6 52 Accident
43rd S3.0 10 Belgium Equipe Nationale Belga Belgium Lucien Bianchi
Belgium Alain de Changy
Ferrari 250 TR58 Ferrari 3.0L V12 47 Fuel feed
44th S3.0 15 Italy Scuderia Ferrari Brazil Hermano da Silva Ramos
United Kingdom Cliff Allison
Ferrari 250 TR59 Ferrari 3.0L V12 41 Gearbox
45th S750 56 Italy Automobili Stanguellini France René Révillon
France Joseph Dieu
Stanguellini S750 Bialbero Stanguellini 0.7L I4 47 Out of fuel
46th GT2.0 26 United Kingdom Standard Triumph United Kingdom Peter Bolton
United Kingdom Mike Rothschild
Triumph TR3S Triumph 2.0L I4 35 Holed radiator
47th GT750 43 United Kingdom Sydney A. Hurrell United Kingdom Sid Hurrell
United Kingdom Roy North
Saab 93 Saab 0.7L I3 (2-stroke) 35 Engine
48th S750 51 Italy Osca Automobili Mexico Pedro Rodríguez
Mexico Ricardo Rodríguez
Osca S187 Osca 0.7L I7 32 Water pump
49th GT2.0 60 United Kingdom John Dashwood United Kingdom Bill Wilks
United Kingdom John Dashwood
Frasr Nash Le Mans Replica Bristol 2.0L I6 35 Accident
50th S750 54 United Kingdom Team Lotus Engineering United Kingdom Mike Taylor
United Kingdom Jonathan Sieff
Lotus 17 Coventry Climax 0.7L I4 23 Ignition
51st S3.0 17 United States North American Racing Team United States Rod Carveth
United States Gilbert Geitner
Ferrari 250 TR 58 Ferrari 3.0L V12 21 Gearbox
52nd GT3.0 21 Switzerland Écurie Trois Chevrons Switzerland Hubert Patthey
Switzerland Renaud Calderari
Aston Martin DB4 GT Aston Martin 3.0L I6 21 Engine
53nd GT750 47 France Automobiles Deutsch et Bonnet France Gérard Laureau
France Pierre Chancel
D.B. Barquette Panhard 0.7L Flat-2 9 Engine

Did Not Start[edit]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps Reason
54th GT1.5 58 United Kingdom J.R. Stoop United Kingdom Douglas Graham
United Kingdom Mike McKee
Lotus Elite Coventry Climax 1.2L I4 Road Accident

[16][17][18]

Class Winners[edit]

Class Winners
Sports 3000 5 Aston Martin DBR1/300 Salvadori / Shelby
Sports 2000 No finishers
Sports 1500 No finishers
Sports 1100 No finishers
Sports 750 No classified finishers
Grand Touring 5000 No finishers
Grand Touring 3000 11 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta “Beurlys” / “Eldé”
Grand Touring 2000 29 AC Ace Whiteaway / Turner
Grand Touring 1500 41 Lotus Elite Lumsden / Riley
Grand Touring 1100 No finishers
Grand Touring 750 46 D.B. Barquette Cornet / Cotton
Biennial Cup 46 D.B. Barquette Cornet / Cotton
Index of Performance 46 D.B. Barquette Cornet / Cotton
Index of Thermal Efficiency 45 D.B. HBR4 Armagnac / Consten

[20]

Standings after the race[edit]

Pos Championship Points
1 Italy Ferrari 18
2 United Kingdom Aston Martin 16
3 West Germany Porsche 15
4 Italy Maserati 2
5 Italy Alfa Romeo 1
  • 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 3 results out of the 5 races could be retained by each manufacturer. Points earned but not counted towards the championship totals are listed within brackets in the above table.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Quentin Spurring. Le Mans 24 Hours: The Official History of the World’s Greatest Motor Race 1949-59. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 978-1844255375
  • Brian Laban. Le Mans 24 Hours: The Complete Story of World’s Most Famous Motor Race. Haynes Publishing. ISBN 978-1852270629


World Sportscar Championship
Previous race:
1000km of Nürburgring
1959 season Next race:
RAC Tourist Trophy