1968 24 Hours of Le Mans

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1968 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Index: Races | Winners

The 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 36th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 28 and 29 September 1968 on the Circuit de la Sarthe, in Le Mans, France.

Originally scheduled for the weekend of 15 and 16 June, the race had to be delayed until September due to protests, strikes, and civil unrest in France during the summer of 1968. The rescheduled race increased the chances of the Prototypes against the Sports, as the new Prototype cars had matured during the season. It also increased the amount of darkness that drivers would be racing in compared to June, by about three hours: a total of 11 hours. Its new date made it the tenth and final round of the 1968 World Sportscar Championship of a tense and close championship between Ford and Porsche.

The winners were Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi, in the J.W. Automotive Gulf-Oil Ford GT40. Despite Porsche finishing second and third, the victory was enough to give Ford the manufacturer's title.

There were also two major accidents during the race ending the racing careers of Willy Mairesse and Mauro Bianchi (Lucien's younger brother), who both suffered severe burns in the crashes.

Le Mans in 1968

Regulations

Straight after the 1967 race, the CSI (Commission Sportive Internationale - the FIA’s regulatory body) convened to discuss ways to limit the increasingly dangerous speeds in Sports car racing, mindful of what led to the 1955 disaster.[1] It was decided to impose a 3-litre (120-litre fuel tank) on Group 6 Prototypes and a 5-litre limit (160-litre fuel tank) on Group 4 Sports. There remained no engine limit on the Group 3 GTs. It effectively banned the big-block Fords and Chaparral, as well as the big Ferraris and the new Mirage and Lola-Aston Martin and marked the end of an era. The theory was that manufacturers would turn to the use of 3-litre Formula One engines to save development costs.

However, it was the immediate implementation in the next year that caused much unrest with the companies. The CSI cited ‘safety concerns’ justifying the rapid action. Enzo Ferrari cancelled his Prototype program. He was not alone in believing a 5-litre Sports car would outperform a 3-litre Prototype, and that only the big manufacturers would be able to make the minimum 50 big-engined cars to get Group 4 homologation.[2]

Because the race was rescheduled and the longer period of darkness, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) permitted one battery change.[3] With high speed being such a talking point, Ford volunteered to sponsor a major road realignment on the main straight, installing a chicane just before the pitlane.[3] The changes added at least 10 seconds to a lap, as well as causing greater wear on tyres and brakes. Although the track had been widened and safety features of the track improved in the aftermath of the 1955 disaster, this was the first significant layout-change to the circuit since 1932. Diverting the racing away from the pits also significantly increased the safety of the pit-crews. Finally, in line with the global racing trend, commercial advertising was now allowed on cars.[2]

Entries

Although devoid of the big team entries from Ford and Ferrari there were still 94 applications for this year's race, and 58 cars arrived to qualify for the 54 starting places. Into that space the biggest entries were from Porsche and Alpine with 13 and 11 cars respectively. The new regulations did have a positive impact on redressing the imbalance of the Prototypes to the other two categories

Category Classes Prototype
Group 6
Sports
Group 4
GT
Group 3
Total
Entries
Large-engines >2.0L classes 12 (+2 reserves) 11 5 28 (+2 reserves)
Medium-engines 1.6 / 2.0L classes 11 (+2 reserves) 1 2 (+2 reserves) 14 (+4 reserves)
Small-engines 1.15 / 1.3L classes 6 (+1 reserve) 0 1 (+1 reserve) 7 (+2 reserves)
Total Cars 29 (+5 reserves) 12 8 (+3 reserves) 49 (+8 reserves)

With the withdrawal of the Ford factory teams, J.W. Automotive had bought the rights to racing the GT40 and took over the Ford Advanced Vehicles facility at Slough.[4] Backed by Gulf Oil and its distinctive light blue and orange livery. One of the previous year's Mirages was reverted to a GT40 while two new cars were built, this time all running a 5-litre V8, generating 415 bhp. The Gulf GT40s received some of the improvements of the Mirage, and a significant effort was made to reduce the weight of car using high-tech materials. A large part of the body was made of a very thin polyester sheet reinforced with carbon fibre. The cars were very competitive having already won four races. Wyer's two best drivers however weren’t present: Jacky Ickx and Brian Redman, winners at Brands Hatch and Spa, had both broken limbs from Formula 1 accidents (at Mosport and Spa respectively) Former Ferrari-stalwart Pedro Rodriguez, and Alfa Romeo team-driver Lucien Bianchi were brought in for the race. Paul Hawkins) / David Hobbs (race winners at Monza) had their regular car while Brian Muir / Jackie Oliver had the new chassis.[5]

There were also regular GT40 privateer entries, from Claude Dubois (with drivers Willy Mairesse/”Beurlys”), and Mike Salmon, having recovered from the burns he got in his Ford the previous year.

Ferrari was true to his word and boycotted Le Mans, which also left several of his customer teams stranded, like the Equipe Nationale Belge and British Maranello Concessionaires. Ferrari hopes therefore fell back onto the four-year old 275 LM in Group 4. The North American Racing Team (NART) entered three different Ferraris: 1965 race-winner Masten Gregory re-joining his winning 275LM car, a 275 GTB in the GT category and a 206 Dino in the 2-litre Prototype class. Similarly, Scuderia Filipinetti had several options and also settled on running a 275LM and a 275 GTB. The Swiss team also ran a pair of the latest 7-litre Corvette Stingrays in the GT division. There were two British privateer Ferraris. David Piper had done a major rebuild of his car, replacing most of its aluminium body with a polyester/fiberglass shell to reduce weight.

A number of manufacturers stepped up to fill the leading prototype positions vacated by Ford and Ferrari: Porsche's ongoing development program stepped up a notch with the new Porsche 908 fitted with a new 3-litre flat-8 producing 330 bhp and over 310 kp/h (190 mph), the first time Porsche competed in the largest engine class of the regulations.[4] Still quite unreliable, Porsche had to rely on their 907s to give them race victories early in the year, but the 908 came good at the Nürburgring race. Due to their low profile, the cars used small, but very bright quartz-iodine headlights, but this necessitated two alternators in each carrather than dynamos.[6] With 5 wins to Ford's 4, Porsche had a narrow lead in the Championship coming into this final round, looking for its first overall FIA Championship.[7]

So four 908s were prepared for the works team, in langheck (longtail) form for the long fast straights. Their top pair were Jo Siffert (4 wins) and Hans Herrmann (2 wins). Rising sports-car start Vic Elford (the other race winner) was with Gerhard Mitter, Porsche regulars Rolf Stommelen and Jochen Neerpasch had the third while the Americans Joe Buzzetta/Scooter Patrick the fourth. The company also supported three privateers running the reliable 907 'langheck': the new Swiss team Squadra Tartaruga of Rico Steinemann, Spaniard Alex Soler-Roig and Frenchman Philippe Farjon.[8]

The new Matra 3-litre V12 had its race debut simultaneously in May at the Monaco F1 GP and the Spa 1000 km. Capable of a powerful 380 bhp, the company was initially not going to run at Le Mans, however the deferred date allowed for more testing and a single MS630 longtail was prepared for team drivers Henri Pescarolo and Johnny Servoz-Gavin.[9]

French hopes for outright victory mainly rested on Alpine). A proven record in the smaller classes encouraged Jean Rédélé to move up to the main category. But the new Gordini-prepared Renault 3-litre V8 only produced 310 bhp for the new A220 design. After racing earlier in the year, the car now had a rear spoiler to try to correct a dangerous aerodynamic fault: at the Nürburgring the Alpine of Henri Grandsire had got airborne and done a 360˚ loop.[10] Jacques Cheinisse retired from racing to manage the racing team, and a big effort put eleven cars on the grid, second only to Porsche. The works team ran three A220s for Grandsire and Gérard Larrousse, Jean Guichet/Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Alpine engineer André de Cortanze/Jean Vinatier. Regular customer team Ecurie Savin-Calberson also entered one for Mauro Bianchi and Patrick Depailler and they also put an A210 in the 2-litre category. Alpine also ran the A210 in the 1300cc and 1150cc Prototype classes, including a debut for 30-race Le Mans veteran Bob Wollek. Finally, two of the homologated A110 were run in the GT category by French privateers.[10]

British entries were limited. The Lola T70 now had a 5-litre Chevrolet engine in the Sports category. John Woolfe commissioned Chevron to build a new car. The B12 was a one-off design with a fibreglass body and carrying a modified version of the 3-litre Formula 1 Repco V8 engine developing 330 bhp.[11][12] Austin-Healey, as well as their regular Le Mans Sprite entry, developed a new 2-litre prototype with the Coventry Climax FWM V8 engine that put out 240 bhp.[13] It was run by Healey's regular drivers Clive Baker and Andrew Hedges.

In line with the ACO's commitment to technological development, there were two turbine-powered Howmet TXs entered in the prototype class, following on from the Rover-BRM last run in 1965. Ray Heppenstall designed a car on a Group 7 Can-Am chassis, with an aluminium shell from Howmet Castings. The Continental turbine was from a helicopter and rated as an equivalent to 3-litres with 325 bhp. It was very light but thirsty on its paraffin fuel. After a 3rd place at Watkins Glen it had shown reliability. Heppenstall drove one with race-veteran Dick Thompson while Bob Tullius/Hugh Dibley had the other.[14]

For two years Autodelta, the racing division of Alfa Romeo, had had a difficult time developing a new sports prototype. Both Jean Rolland and Leo Cella had been killed in testing accidents. The Tipo 33/2 was the new evolution and its 2-litre V8 engine put out 260 bhp. Autodelta had four cars entered including works drivers Nino Vaccarella/Giancarlo Baghetti and ‘Nanni’ Galli/Ignazio Giunti. It also supported two cars entered by the Belgian VDS customer team.[15]

Practice

This year, for an unknown reason, the April test weekend coincided with the British round of the International Championship.[16] Jacky Ickx set the benchmark for JWA, with a 3:35.4 lap, then promptly left for Brands Hatch to win the endurance race. It was also the first appearance of the new Porsche 908, in the hands of Rolf Stommelen. It was found to need major aerodynamic refinement, but Stommelen eventually got a time of 3:44.1.[16]

On race-week, Jo Siffert matched Ickx's test time exactly with his Porsche 908 to take pole position. The next day Stommelen and Elford claimed the next places, ahead of Rodriguez's Ford and Servoz-Gavin's Matra. The best Alpine was Bianchi's 3:43.2 in 8th, Vaccarella got his Alfa in 14th while the Howmet clocked 20th with 3:56.0. The best Ferrari was Müller's down in 27th (4:01.8).[17] The Belgian Ford lost its oil through a faulty connection but was able to get a replacement engine from the JWA team.[18]

During the April test many drivers had complained about the layout of the new chicane, being too tight. By September it had been redesigned to greater satisfaction.[12][16]

Race

Start

This year the start time was moved forward to 3pm for the spectators’ sake due to the earlier onset of darkness.[3] The honorary starter was Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli .[19] Race-day was showery and most of the cars started on wet tyres with a heavy shower just ten minutes before the start.[18] Siffert, among a few others, started on pole with slicks however.[20]

In his rush to get away, Willy Mairesse did not shut his door properly. At the end of the Mulsanne Straight at a speed of over 150 mph it flew open. Trying to close it he lost control and the Ford careered off the track into the trees. Mairesse suffered broken bones and head injuries which left him in a coma for two weeks and ended his racing career.[21][20] At the end of the first lap, Porsches were in the top four places, with Stommelen in the lead. Siffert took the lead on the fourth lap (already lapping tailenders[18]), with the Fords running in 5-6-7. Johnny Servoz-Gavin bought the Matra in with a malfunctioning windscreen-wiper.[9]

The rain had stopped and the track was drying. Soon Hawkins and Rodriguez were in, with their wet-weather tyres ruined. Then on lap 12, the lap it was due in, the third Ford went off when Muir planted it in the sand at the Mulsanne corner. After three hours of digging he burned the clutch out in his departure.[5] By the end of two hours Siffert had lapped the field. Teammate Elford was second, with the two Gulf-Fords, Buzzetta's 908 and the Alpines of Guichet and Bianchi next. Eighth was the leading 2-litre car, Giunti's Alfa with the Matra and Piper's Ferrari filing out the top-10. Porsche then also started having problems as Stommelen and Elford both had electrical issues delaying them. Worse though was when the leading car's clutch broke just before 7pm, stranding Siffert out on the track unable to get back to the pits for repairs.[20]

Night

This left the two Gulf Fords of Rodriguez/Bianchi and Hawkins/Hobbs swapping the lead going into the night. Then at 9pm Hobbs came into the pits also with a faulty clutch and they lost nearly 2 hours repairing it. Although they got going again, the engine soon expired spectacularly at the end of the Mulsanne Straight, just after midnight.[5]

During the night the Guichet/Jabouille Alpine had pitted from 6th but lost three-quarters an hour getting a new starter motor fitted.[10] Approaching 9pm, with the Fords and Porsches now all back on the same lap, the order was changing as often as the pitstops took place. The four Alfas had a stranglehold on the Index of Performance.[18] Soon after, Henri Grandsire had another accident in the Alpine, when it got airborne over the hump at the end of the Mulsanne straight. Again, he was fortunate to be able to walk away uninjured.[10][18]

Then the Mitter/Elford Porsche snapped its alternator belt. When the officials found that the team had changed the alternator they were disqualified (much to the chagrin of team manager Huschke von Hanstein) as that was a part not permitted to be replaced during the course of a race. Just before 11pm another alternator problem took out the Buzzetta/Patrick team car too (from 4th) and Porsche's hopes of outright victory were gone.[8] Yet JWA could not be complacent, as they were also down to one competitive Ford with two-thirds of the race still to run.

Early in the second hour the second Howmet turbine had been in the pits for three hours fixing its rear suspension. Consequently, at 11pm it was disqualified for having not covered sufficient distance. The leading Howmet was also hobbled, running at 70% power, due to faulty fuel-control.[22] Around midnight Dick Thompson hit oil at the Indianapolis corner, lost control and rolled the car. The Howmets never raced again.[14][18]

The rain returned about 2.30am, got heavier and stayed for the rest of the night. Servoz-Gavin bought the Matra in with the windscreen-wiper faulty again. The Matra crew could not access the motor and were considering retiring until Henri Pescarolo angrily jumped in and took off.[9]

At the 3am halfway point, the Ford (177 laps) had a comfortable 4-lap lead over the surprising next pair: the new Matra was scrapping with the 2-litre Alfa Romeo of Giunti/Galli. Meanwhile, Stommelen's delayed Porsche 908 was back on song and closing in fourth (170 laps). Fifth, on the same lap, was the Swiss Porsche 907 of Squadra Tartaruga with the Bianchi/Depailler Alpine (169 laps - back after falling to 15th to fix their exhaust) leading the Alfas of Facetti/Dini and Casoni/Biscaldi. The Cortanze/Vinatier Alpine had moved up to 9th ahead of the three Ferrari 275s of David Piper, NART and Scuderia Filipinetti. There were still 30 cars classified as runners. The first two Alfas still led the Index of Performance, narrowly ahead of the Andruet/Nicolas Alpine and the Swiss Porsche.[18]

Soon after 5am Sylvain Garant aquaplaned and lost control of the big Corvette at the end of the pit straight in the rain.[23] It slammed into the track-walls on both the left and right sides, strewing metal, wood and earth across the track. The injured Garant was taken to hospital.[18] At 4.30am, the 3rd-place Alfa Romeo was delayed in the pits which gave Matra the chance to also pit, losing 3 laps and finally fix the wiper-motor.[9] Just before dawn the Guichet/Jabouille Alpine, that had been fighting back from the back of the field after its delay had almost made it back into the top-10 when an alternator failure stopped their charge.[10]

Morning

Dawn at 6.30am was gloomy and very wet, however the rain did eventually cease. The Ford now had a 7-lap lead over the Alfa Romeo and Matra, both on the same lap, delighting the French spectators. The Andruet/Nicolas Alpine had also now taken over the Index lead[18] Soon after 11am, with less than four hours left in the race, occurred the most serious accident of the race. Mauro Bianchi, running 6th, had recently left the pits when he crashed heavily approaching the Esses. The full fuel tank exploded in a fireball setting alight the car and the bordering straw bales.[24] Bianchi was lucky to survive, although he had severe burns to his face and arms.[10][12][25] Another casualty was the Matra which got a puncture going through the debris. Servoz-Gavin got back to the pits, losing a place.

Then with only 3 hours to go there was a sudden change at the top. The Alfa Romeo came into the pits with suspension failure losing 30 minutes, and 4 laps, getting it repaired.[15] Then more dramatically at 12.30, the pursuing Matra got another puncture.[12] In getting it back to the pits the disintegrating tyre damaged the battery, causing an electrical fire putting it out of the race.[9] The Swiss Porsche that had been running so reliably inherited second.

Finish and post-race

In the end it was a comfortable 5-lap victory to the GT40 of Rodríguez and Bianchi. For Pedro Rodríguez, it was only his second finish after 11 attempts. For Lucien Bianchi it was his 13th Le Mans. In an excellent run for the new Squadra Tartaruga team, Steinemann and Spoerry came in second just a lap ahead of the Stommelen/Neerpasch works car. The repaired Alfa Romeo of Giunti/Galli was fourth, leading a formation finish of their Autodelta teammates coming in 4-5-6, the three of them separated by seventeen laps.

Seventh was the green Ferrari of English privateer David Piper, delayed by overheating issues but surprisingly was the only Ferrari finisher this year. Eighth was the remaining 3-litre Alpine, driven by co-designer André de Cortanze and Jean Vinatier. It headed home three of the smaller Alpines, two of which (the Thérier/Tramont 1.3-litre A210 and the Andruet/Nicolas 1-litre works cars) won the two lucrative Index prizes.[10]

The leading GT car was the Belgian Porsche of Jean-Pierre Gaban, giving the 911 the first of many overall GT wins for the model. The final classified car, and the only British entry to finish, was the Austin-Healey Sprite in 15th.

The Matra board was very satisfied with its new car's promising performance and therefore decided to expand its racing programme.[9] Rico Steinemann, second-place winner and a former racing journalist went on, later in the year, to succeed Huschke von Hanstein as Porsche's Racing Manager.[8][26][27]

1968 would be a terrible year for racing accidents. As well as the career-ending injuries to Willy Mairesse and Mauro Bianchi at this race, a number of other Le Mans veterans were killed or seriously injured over the racing season. These included Ludovico Scarfiotti (Rossfeld hillclimb), Jo Schlesser (French GP), Brian Redman (Belgian GP), Mike Spence (Indianapolis), Chris Irwin (Nürburgring) and the great Jim Clark at Hockenheim. Circuit safety would become a greater and greater priority at Le Mans and in motor-racing in the next few years.

Official results

Finishers

Results taken from Quentin Spurring's book, officially licensed by the ACO[28] Class Winners are in Bold text.

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps
1 S
5.0
9 United Kingdom JW Automotive Engineering Mexico Pedro Rodriguez
Belgium Lucien Bianchi
Ford GT40 Ford 4.9L V8 331
2 P
3.0
66
(reserve)
Switzerland Squadra Tartaruga Switzerland Hans-Heinrich ‘Rico’ Steinemann
Switzerland Dieter Spoerry
Porsche 907LH Porsche 2.2L F8 326
3 P
3.0
33 Germany Porsche System Engineering West Germany Rolf Stommelen
West Germany Jochen Neerpasch
Porsche 908LH Porsche 3.0 L Flat-8 325
4 P
2.0
39 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Ignazio Giunti
Italy Giovanni ‘Nanni’ Galli
Alfa Romeo T33/2 Alfa Romeo 1996cc V8 322
5 P
2.0
38 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Carlo Facetti
Italy Spartaco Dini
Alfa Romeo T33/2 Alfa Romeo 1996cc V8 315
6 P
2.0
40 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Mario Casoni
Italy Giampiero Biscaldi
Alfa Romeo T33/2 Alfa Romeo 1996cc V8 305
7 S
5.0
21 United Kingdom D. Piper
(private entrant)
United Kingdom David Piper
United Kingdom Richard Attwood
Ferrari 275LM Ferrari 3.3L V12 302
8 P
3.0
30 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France André de Cortanze
France Jean Vinatier
Alpine A220 Renault-Gordini 3.0L V8 297
9 P
2.0
57
(reserve)
France Ecurie Savin-Calberson France Alain LeGuellec
France Alain Serpaggi
Alpine A210 Renault-Gordini 1470cc S4 289
10 P
1.3
52 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France Jean-Luc Thérier
France Bernard Tramont
Alpine A210 Renault-Gordini 1296cc S4 288
11 P
1.3
53 France Trophée Le Mans France Bob Wollek
France Christian Ethuin
Alpine A210 Renault-Gordini 1296cc S4 282
12 GT
2.0
43 Belgium J.-P. Gaban
(private entrant)
Belgium Jean-Pierre Gaban
Belgium Roger van der Schrick
Porsche 911 T Porsche 1991cc F6 281
13 GT
2.0
64
(reserve)
France C. Laurent
(private entrant)
France Claude Laurent
France Jean-Claude Ogier
Porsche 911 T Porsche 1991cc F6 276
14 P
1.15
55 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France Jean-Pierre Nicolas
France Jean-Claude Andruet
Alpine A210 Renault-Gordini 1005cc S4 272
15 P
1.3
50 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company United Kingdom Roger Enever
Republic of Ireland Alec Poole
Austin-Healey Sprite Le Mans BMC 1293cc S4 255
N/C * P
2.0
46 France Ecurie Fiat-Abarth France France Marcel Martin
France Jean Mésange
Fiat Dino Ferrari 1986cc V6 253
N/C * GT
1.3
61
(reserve)
France Ecurie Léopard France Jacques Bourdon
France Maurice Nussbaumer
Alpine A110 Renault-Gordini 1296cc S4 215
N/C * GT
1.3
51 France B. Collomb
(private entrant)
France Bernard Collomb
France François Laccarrau
Alpine A110 Renault-Gordini 1296cc S4 167
  • 'Note *: Not Classified because Insufficient distance covered.

Did Not Finish

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Laps Reason
DNF P
3.0
24 France Equipe Matra Sports France Johnny Servoz-Gavin
France Henri Pescarolo
Matra MS630 Matra 3.0L V12 283 Puncture/fire
(22hr)
DNF P
3.0
27 France Ecurie Savin-Calberson Belgium Mauro Bianchi
France Patrick Depailler
Alpine A220 Renault-Gordini 3.0L V8 257 Brakes/accident
(22hr)
DNF P
2.0
45 France J.-P. Hanrioud
(private entrant)
France Jean-Pierre Hanrioud
Switzerland André Wicky
Porsche 910 Porsche 1991cc F6 248 Rocker arm
(24hr)
DNF GT
2.0
44 France Auguste Veuillet France Guy Chasseuil
France Claude Ballot-Léna
Porsche 911 T Porsche 1991cc F6 224 Engine
(24hr)
DNF S
5.0
20 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti Switzerland Herbert Müller
United Kingdom Jonathan Williams
Ferrari 275LM Ferrari 3.3L V12 212 Wheel bearing
(18hr)
DNF S
5.0
14 United States North American Racing Team United States Masten Gregory
United States Charlie Kolb
Ferrari 275LM Ferrari 3.3L V12 209 Accident
(18hr)
DSQ S
2.0
42 France C. Poirot
(private entrant)
France Christian Poirot
France Pierre Maublanc
Porsche 906 Porsche 1991cc F6 202 Pit violation
(19hr)
DNF P
3.0
29 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France Jean Guichet
France Jean-Pierre Jabouille
Alpine A220 Renault-Gordini 3.0L V8 185 Electrics
(16hr)
DNF GT
+2.0
4 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti Switzerland Jean-Michel Giorgi
France Sylvain Garant
Chevrolet Corvette C3 Chevrolet 7.0L V8 157 Accident
(14hr)
DNF P
2.0
41 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Nino Vaccarella
Italy Giancarlo Baghetti
Alfa Romeo T33/2 Alfa Romeo 1996cc V8 150 Fuel pump
(12hr)
DNF P
3.0
35 Spain A. Soler-Roig
(private entrant)
Spain Alex Soler-Roig
Austria Rudi Lins
Porsche 907LH Porsche 2.2L F8 145 Oil leak/camshaft
(13hr)
DNF S5.0 6 United Kingdom J. Epstein
(private entrant)
United Kingdom Jackie Epstein
United Kingdom Edward Nelson
Lola T70 Mk. III Chevrolet 5.0L V8 143 Final drive/camshaft
(17hr)
DNF S
5.0
12 United Kingdom Strathaven Ltd United Kingdom Mike Salmon
United Kingdom Eric Liddell
Ford GT40 Ford 4.7L V8 131 Gearbox
(19hr)
DNF P
3.0
34 Germany Porsche System Engineering United States Joe Buzzetta
United States Scooter Patrick
Porsche 908 LH Porsche 3.0L F8 115 Alternator
(9hr)
DSQ P
3.0
32 Germany Porsche System Engineering West Germany Gerhard Mitter
United Kingdom Vic Elford
Porsche 908 LH Porsche 3.0L F8 111 Mechanical violation
(9hr)
DNF S
5.0
10 United Kingdom JW Automotive Engineering Australia Paul Hawkins
United Kingdom David Hobbs
Ford GT40 Ford 4.9L V8 107 Engine
(10hr)
DNF P
2.0
37 Belgium Racing Team VDS Belgium Teddy Pilette
Netherlands Rob Slotemaker
Alfa Romeo T33/2 Alfa Romeo 1996cc V8 104 Drive shaft
(9hr)
DSQ P
3.0
67
(reserve)
France P. Farjon France Robert Buchet
West Germany Herbert Linge
Porsche 907/8 Porsche 2.2L F6 102 Mechanical violation
(9hr)
DNF S
5.0
19 United Kingdom P. Vestey
(private entrant)
United Kingdom Paul Vestey
United States Roy Pike
Ferrari 275LM Ferrari 3.3L V12 99 Gearbox
(11hr)
DNF P
3.0
22 United States Howmet Corporation United States Ray Heppenstal
United States Dick Thompson
Howmet TX Continental Turbine (3.0L equiv) 84 Accident
(9hr)
DNF GT
+2.0
17 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti Switzerland Jacques Rey
Switzerland Claude Haldi
Ferrari 275 GTB
Competizione
Ferrari 3.3L V12 78 Accident
(8hr)
DNF P
1.15
56 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France Jean-Louis Marnat
France Jean-François Gerbault
Alpine A210 Renault-Gordini 1005cc S4 71 Ignition
(9hr)
DSQ P
3.0
23 United States Howmet Corporation United States Bob Tullius
United Kingdom Hugh Dibley
Howmet TX Continental Turbine (3.0L equiv) 60 Insufficient distance
(9hr)
DNF P
3.0
31 Germany Porsche System Engineering Switzerland Jo Siffert
West Germany Hans Herrmann
Porsche 908 Porsche 3.0L F8 59 Clutch
(5hr)
DNF P
3.0
28 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France Henri Grandsire
France Gérard Larrousse
Alpine A220 Renault-Gordini 3.0L V8 59 Brakes/ Accident
(7hr)
DNF P
2.0
36 United States North American Racing Team France François Chevalier
France Bernard Lagier de Giuseppe
Ferrari Dino 206 S Ferrari 1986cc V6 54 Engine
(7hr)
DNF GT
+2.0
3 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti Italy Umberto Maglioli
France Henri Greder
Chevrolet Corvette C3 Chevrolet 7.0L V8 53 Head gasket
(6hr)
DNF P
2.0
49 United Kingdom C. J. Lawrence
(private entrant)
United Kingdom Chris Lawrence
United Kingdom John Wingfield
Deep Sanderson 302 Ford 1598cc S4 35 Fuel injection
(6hr)
DNF GT
2.0
60
(reserve)
Switzerland Wicky Racing Team West Germany Willy Meier
France Jean de Mortemart
Porsche 911 T Porsche 1991cc F6 30 Accident
(3hr)
DNF P
3.0
25 United Kingdom J. Woolfe
(private entrant)
United Kingdom John Woolfe
United Kingdom Digby Martland
Chevron B12 Repco 3.0L V8 27 Head gasket
(3hr)
DNF P
2.0
47 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company United Kingdom Clive Baker
United Kingdom Andrew Hedges
Healey SR Coventry Climax 1968cc V8 20 Clutch
(3hr)
DNF S
5.0
11 United Kingdom JW Automotive Engineering Australia Brian Muir
United Kingdom Jackie Oliver
Ford GT40 Ford 4.9L V8 15 Accident/clutch
(5hr)
DSQ S
5.0
7 Sweden Sportscars Unlimited Sweden Ulf Norinder
Sweden Sten Axelsson
Lola T70 Mk. III Chevrolet 5.0 L V8 47 Abandoned car
(5hr)
DNF P
2.0
65
(reserve)
Belgium Racing Team VDS Belgium Serge Trosch
Austria Karl von Wendt
Alfa Romeo T33/2 Alfa Romeo 1996cc V8 7 Conrod
(2hr)
DNF P
1.3
54 France André Moynet
(private entrant)
France Max Jean
France René Ligonnet
Moynet XS Simca 1204cc S4 6 Oil pump
(3hr)
DNF S
5.0
8 Belgium C. Dubois
(private entrant)
Belgium Willy Mairesse
Belgium “Beurlys” (Jean Blaton)
Ford GT40 Ford 4.7L V8
used Ford 4.9L V8
0 Accident
(1hr)

Did Not Start

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Engine Reason
DNS GT
+2.0
5 Italy Scuderia Sant’Ambroeus Italy Giorgio Pianta
Italy Enrico Pinto
Iso Rivolta GT Chevrolet 5.4L V8 Practice accident
DNQ P
2.0
48 United Kingdom Marcos Racing Ltd. United Kingdom Jeremy ‘Jem’ Marsh
United Kingdom John Quick
Marcos GT Volvo B20 1998cc S4 Did not qualify
DNQ P
1.3
68
(reserve)
France H. Giraud
(private entrant)
France Patrick Champin
France Philippe Marchesi
Hrubon Renault 1296cc S4 Did not qualify
DNP GT
+2.0
15 United States North American Racing Team United States Bob Grossman
Switzerland Edgar Berney
Ferrari 275 GTB
Competizione
Ferrari 3.3L V12 Failed scrutineering
DNA GT
+2.0
1 United States Sunray DX Oil Company Chevrolet Corvette C3 Chevrolet 7.0L V8 Withdrawn
DNA GT
+2.0
2 United States Sunray DX Oil Company Chevrolet Corvette C3 Chevrolet 7.0L V8 Withdrawn
DNA S
5.0
16 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti Ferrari 275LM Ferrari 3.3L V12 Withdrawn
DNA S
5.0
18 Switzerland Scuderia Filipinetti Switzerland Edgar Berney
Portugal Francisco de Heredia
Ferrari 275LM Ferrari 3.3L V12 Withdrawn
DNA P
3.0
26 Italy Automobili Serenissima United Kingdom Jonathan Williams Serenissima Mk.168 ATS 3.0L V8 Withdrawn
DNA P
2.0
45 Netherlands B. Pon
(private entrant)
Netherlands Ben Pon
Netherlands Gijs van Lennep
Porsche 910 Porsche 1991cc F6 Withdrawn

Class Winners

Class Prototype
Winners
Class Sports
Winners
Class GT
Winners
Prototype
5000
#66 Porsche 907 LH Steinemann / Spoerry Sports
>2000
#9 Ford GT40 Rodriguez / Bianchi Grand Touring
>2000
no finishers
Prototype
2000
#39 Alfa Romeo T33/2 Giunti / Galli Sports
2000
no finishers Grand Touring
2000
#43 Porsche 911 T Gaban / Schrick
Prototype
1600
#57 Alpine A210 LeGuellec / Serpaggi Sports
1600
no entrants Grand Touring
1600
no entrants
Prototype
1300
#52 Alpine A210 Thérier / Tramont Sports
1300
no entrants Grand Touring
1300
no finishers
Prototype
1150
#55 Alpine A210 Nicolas / Andruet * Sports
1150
no entrants Grand Touring
1150
no entrants
  • Note: setting a new Distance Record.

Index of Thermal Efficiency

[29]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Score
1 P
1.3
52 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France Jean-Luc Thérier
France Bernard Tramont
Alpine A210 1.16
2 P
2.0
57 France Ecurie Savin-Calberson France Alain LeGuellec
France Alain Serpaggi
Alpine A210 1.07
3 P
1.3
53 France Trophée Le Mans France Bob Wollek
France Christian Ethuin
Alpine A210 1.06
4 S
5.0
9 United Kingdom JW Automotive Engineering Mexico Pedro Rodriguez
Belgium Lucien Bianchi
Ford GT40 1.04
5 P
1.15
55 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France Jean-Pierre Nicolas
France Jean-Claude Andruet
Alpine A210 0.94
6= P
1.3
50 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company United Kingdom Roger Enever
Republic of Ireland Alec Poole
Austin-Healey Sprite Le Mans 0.91
6= GT
2.0
64 France C. Laurent
(private entrant)
France Claude Laurent
France Jean-Claude Ogier
Porsche 911 T 0.91
8 P
2.0
39 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Ignazio Giunti
Italy Giovanni ‘Nanni’ Galli
Alfa Romeo T33/2 0.86
9= P
3.0
66 Switzerland Squadra Tartaruga Switzerland Hans-Heinrich ‘Rico’ Steinemann
Switzerland Dieter Spoerry
Porsche 907LH 0.82
9= P
3.0
33 Germany Porsche System Engineering West Germany Rolf Stommelen
West Germany Jochen Neerpasch
Porsche 908LH 0.82
  • Note: Only the top ten positions are included in this set of standings.

Index of Performance

Taken from Moity's book.[30]

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Score
1 P
1.15
55 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France Jean-Pierre Nicolas
France Jean-Claude Andruet
Alpine A210 1.197
2 P
2.0
39 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Ignazio Giunti
Italy Giovanni ‘Nanni’ Galli
Alfa Romeo T33/2 1.175
3 P
3.0
66 Switzerland Squadra Tartaruga Switzerland Hans-Heinrich ‘Rico’ Steinemann
Switzerland Dieter Spoerry
Porsche 907LH 1.170
4 P
1.3
52 France Société Automobiles
Alpine
France Jean-Luc Thérier
France Bernard Tramont
Alpine A210 1.159
5 P
2.0
38 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Carlo Facetti
Italy Spartaco Dini
Alfa Romeo T33/2 1.149
6 P
1.3
53 France Trophée Le Mans France Bob Wollek
France Christian Ethuin
Alpine A210 1.136
7 P
2.0
57 France Ecurie Savin-Calberson France Alain LeGuellec
France Alain Serpaggi
Alpine A210 1.127
8 P
3.0
33 Germany Porsche System Engineering West Germany Rolf Stommelen
West Germany Jochen Neerpasch
Porsche 908LH 1.117
9 P
2.0
40 Italy Autodelta SpA Italy Mario Casoni
Italy Giampiero Biscaldi
Alfa Romeo T33/2 1.113
10 P
1.3
50 United Kingdom Donald Healey Motor Company United Kingdom Roger Enever
Republic of Ireland Alec Poole
Austin-Healey Sprite Le Mans 1.098
  • Note: Only the top ten positions are included in this set of standings. A score of 1.00 means meeting the minimum distance for the car, and a higher score is exceeding the nominal target distance.

Statistics

Taken from Quentin Spurring's book, officially licensed by the ACO

  • Fastest Lap in practice – J. Siffert, #31 Porsche 908 LH – 3:35.4secs; 225.11 km/h (139.88 mph)
  • Fastest Lap – R. Stommelen, #33 Porsche 908 LH– 3:38.1secs; 222.32 km/h (138.14 mph)
  • Winning Distance – 4,452.88 km (2,766.89 mi)
  • Winner's Average Speed – 185.54 km/h (115.29 mph)
  • Attendance – 300 000[31][32]

International Championship for Makes Standings

As calculated after Le Mans, Round 10 of 10[33]

Pos Manufacturer Points
1 United States Ford 45
2 West Germany Porsche 42
3 Italy Alfa Romeo 15½
4= France Alpine 4
4= United States Chevrolet 4
4= United States Howmet 4
7 Italy Ferrari 2
4 United Kingdom Lola 1
Citations
  1. ^ Laban 2001, p.153
  2. ^ a b Spurring 2010, p.272
  3. ^ a b c Clausager 1982, p.153
  4. ^ a b Clarke 1997, p.50: Motor Sep28 1968
  5. ^ a b c Spurring 2010, p.275-8
  6. ^ Automobile Year 1968, p.201
  7. ^ Spurring 2010, p.280
  8. ^ a b c Spurring 2010, p.282-5
  9. ^ a b c d e f Spurring 2010, p.290-1
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Spurring 2010, p.286-9
  11. ^ Spurring 2010, p.297
  12. ^ a b c d Moity 1974, p.112-115
  13. ^ Spurring 2010, p.291
  14. ^ a b Spurring 2010, p.295
  15. ^ a b Spurring 2010, p.292
  16. ^ a b c Clarke 1997, p.53-4: Car & Driver, Jul 1968
  17. ^ Spurring 2010, p.301
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i Clarke 1997, p.56-61: Autocar Oct3 1968
  19. ^ Spurring 2010, p.270
  20. ^ a b c Spurring 2010, p.273
  21. ^ "Willy Mairesse". Motor Sport Magazine. 2017-06-12. Retrieved 2018-02-03.
  22. ^ Parker 2016, p.207
  23. ^ Automobile Year 1968, p.196
  24. ^ Automobile Year 1968, p.195
  25. ^ Editorial, Reuters. "Profile: Bianchi had a bright future". IN. Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  26. ^ Automobile Year 1968, p.200
  27. ^ "Mourning "Rico" Steinemann" (PDF). files.porsche.com. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  28. ^ Spurring 2010, p.2
  29. ^ Spurring 2010, p.171
  30. ^ Moity 1974, p.176
  31. ^ "1968 24 h Le Mans". World Sports Racing Prototypes.com. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  32. ^ "1968 Le Mans 24 Hours". Racing Sports Cars.com. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  33. ^ "International Championship for Makes". World Sports Racing Prototypes.com. Retrieved 2018-04-24.

References

  • Armstrong, Douglas – English editor (1968) Automobile Year #16 1968-69 Lausanne: Edita S.A.
  • Clarke, R.M. - editor (1997) Le Mans 'The Ford and Matra Years 1966-1974' Cobham, Surrey: Brooklands Books ISBN 1-85520-373-1
  • Clausager, Anders (1982) Le Mans London: Arthur Barker Ltd ISBN 0-213-16846-4
  • Laban, Brian (2001) Le Mans 24 Hours London: Virgin Books ISBN 1-85227-971-0
  • Moity, Christian (1974) The Le Mans 24 Hour Race 1949-1973 Radnor, Pennsylvania: Chilton Book Co ISBN 0-8019-6290-0
  • Parker, Paul (2016) Sports Car Racing In Camera Vol 2 1960-69 Wincanton: Behemoth Pumblishing ISBN 978-0-99287-694-4
  • Spurring, Quentin (2010) Le Mans 1960-69 Yeovil, Somerset: Haynes Publishing ISBN 978-1-84425-584-9

External links

  • Racing Sports Cars – Le Mans 24 Hours 1968 entries, results, technical detail. Retrieved 24 April 2018
  • Le Mans History – Le Mans History, hour-by-hour (incl. pictures, YouTube links). Retrieved 24 April 2018
  • World Sports Racing Prototypes – results, reserve entries & chassis numbers. Retrieved 24 April 2018
  • Team Dan – results & reserve entries, explaining driver listings. Retrieved 24 April 2018
  • Unique Cars & Parts – results & reserve entries. Retrieved 24 April 2018
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