1966 24 Hours of Le Mans
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|1966 24 Hours of Le Mans|
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|Index: Races | Winners|
The 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 34th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 18 and 19 June 1966. It was also the seventh round of the 1966 World Sportscar Championship season. It was the first time that Henri Pescarolo entered the race, a driver who went on to set the record for the most starts.
In 1966, the Ford GT40 Mk. II had become reliable. Shelby test driver Ken Miles managed to win at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring with the big block Ford. Ford sent no less than eight Mark IIs to La Sarthe, entered by three teams: Shelby, Holman & Moody and Alan Mann Racing.
The two works P3s were involved in an accident. At 01:45 the P2s had already exhausted their engine in trying to keep contact with the Mk. II and the last Ferrari prototype, the Pedro Rodríguez/Richie Ginther NART P3 retired with overheating. The race was won for Ford. For the first time in history an American car had won Le Mans.
At the last pit stop, three Mark IIs were in front. Ken Miles and Denny Hulme were leading, followed by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon in the same lap. Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson were third, but twelve laps behind.
At the finish, Ford decided to stage publicity photo between Miles/Hulme and McLaren/Amon with the No. 5 following, too. According to witnesses, McLaren left a small margin to Miles and it was expected than Miles/Hulme will be declared winner after the examination of the photo finish. But the ACO declared the McLaren/Amon car had won the race, having covered more distance in 24 hours, as it had started the race several places behind the Miles/Hulme car. The ACO estimated the difference to 8 meters. This was a terrible disappointment for Ken Miles, who expected the triple crown Daytona-Sebring-Le Mans as a reward for his investment in the GT40 development. The finish remains the closest in Le Mans history.
Did Not Finish
- Pole Position - #3 Shelby-American Inc. - 3:30.6
- Fastest Lap - #3 Shelby-American Inc. - 3:30.6
- Distance - 4843.09 km
- Average Speed - 210.795 km/h
- Index of Performance - #30 Porsche System Engineering
- Index of Thermal Efficiency - #33 Ecurie Savin-Calberson
- Motor Sport, July 1966, Pages 596-597.