1978 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 46th 24 -hour Le Mans race, the Grand Prix d' Endurance les 46e 24 Heures du Mans, took place from 10 to June 11, 1978 held at the Circuit des 24 Heures.

  • 2.1 The race course
  • 3.1 pilots after Nations
  • 3.2 Final ranking
  • 3.3 Class Winner
  • 3.4 racing data

Before the race

The 24 -hour race of 1978 resembled in many ways the event from the previous year. Again it came to the sporting competition between the works team of Renault and the Porsche prototype. Although wore the brand name Porsche from the 55 at the start standing race car 31, there was a colorful field of starters and a host of remarkable constructions.

Teams and racing cars

Renault Alpine A443 and brought a three Alpine A442 in different configurations to Le Mans. Common for all four vehicles were the 2-liter 6- cylinder turbo engines and radial tires from Michelin. The A442B was by Jean -Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi an open glass roof made ​​of acrylic, one 10 km / h faster top speed than the version without roof gave the car on the long straights. The A442 reached at the end of the Les- Hunaudières straight line before the Mulsanne a speed of 365 km / h; the A443 was still 15 km / h faster. The A443 went Depailler Patrick and Jean -Pierre Jabouille, the A442A Derek Bell and Jean -Pierre Jarier. The second A442A was officially used by Ecurie Calberson and cared for. As a driver, Jose Dolhem, Guy Fréquelin and Jean Ragnotti were committed.

Despite the high terminal velocity of the Alpine Porsche had the faster car for one round. Three 936 were taken to Le Mans. Jacky Ickx drove in 936/78 in training with the fastest lap time 3.27.060. The Belgians shared the cockpit as the previous year with Henri Pescarolo. Ickx had already won the race four times, and was next to his compatriot Olivier Gendebien record winner. Pescarolo had been standing three times as winner at the podium. The driven by Ickx time corresponded to an average speed of 236.561 km / h The second 936/78 piloted Bob Wollek and Jürgen Barth. In the previous model, the 936/77, were the two Americans, Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood. The fourth factory cars from Untertürkheim was a Porsche 935, which was driven by Manfred Schurti and Rolf Stommelen. Replacement driver Reinhold Joest and Jochen Mass were.

John Horsman again organized the financial resources to develop a new racing car for Le Mans can. As the GR8 from the previous year had the M9 the 2-liter Renault turbo engine in the rear. The drivers were Jacques Laffite, Michel Leclère, Sam Posey and Vern Schuppan.

Alain de Cadenet had let build a new sports car at Lola, which he shared with Chris Craft. The previous car was the Briton from Simon Phillips Racing. For the first time the French racing driver and designer Jean Rondeau was at Le Mans with a signature drink at the start. The M378 had a closed body, a 3-liter Cosworth V8 engine and was - driven by Jacky Haran and rally drivers Bernard Darniche - next Rondeau itself.

One of the most striking designs was the Ibec - Hesketh 308LM, the Harvey Postlethwaite had designed and its chassis was based on the Formula 1 Hesketh Racing Hesketh of 308.

Gerard Welter brought next to the WM P76 and the new P78 World Cup to the Sarthe. Both types were powered by a Peugeot -2 ,7- liter turbo engine.

The majority of the starters in the GT cars, Porsche with the 935ern, this came five Ferrari 512BB, reported among others by the North American Racing Team and some Porsche 934 The only vehicle in the United States was a Chevrolet Monza.

The race

For the first time there was a race in Le Mans before the race. Saturday morning drove vintage cars for the first time before the actual race. Stirling Moss celebrated here his first Le Mans victory. His race car was, however, never been in a long distance race at the start, but he drove a single-seater Maserati 250F to victory. Noteworthy also was the start of it Jean Blaton that belonged under the pseudonym Beurlys in the 1960s, to the best sports car drivers in the world. Four times the uncle of the wife of Jacky Ickx was standing at the podium, but could never win the race.

The race course

Although Jacky Ickx started the race from pole position, frustration set out in the Porsche Box after a few rounds wide. The carriage of Ickx and the Haywood / Gregg vehicle stood with gearbox problems in the pits and lost valuable time on the now walking in leadership Alpine - Renault. In the first hours of the race there were a stable triple guidance for Renault, with the Jassaud / Pironi cars at the top. Only the Barth / Wollek - Porsche was able to ride the pace of the trio approximate. When Henri Pescarolo came again to a long repair to the box, Jacky Ickx was reacted as in the year before in another car: he came to Jürgen Barth and Bob Wollek the team. His place as a partner of Pescarolo took Jochen Mass, who had an accident with the 936 after 255 laps and was eliminated.

And as in the previous Ickx took the Porsche back to the top, until Sunday morning broke the fifth gear. Meanwhile, led by Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Patrick Depailler, and Renault got problems. The Jaussaud / Pironi cars also had gearbox problems and dropped back to third place. Jean -Pierre Jabouille finally retired with engine failure, but because of the ongoing problems with the Porsche transmission in Ickx cars were victorious at the end of Jean -Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi safe with five laps.

It was the first overall victory for Renault in Le Mans. The state-owned company had thus reached his big goal and put the end of the sports car program.


Pilot after Nations

Final ranking

1 not 2 not qualified qualified reserve 3 4 5 reserve reserve reserve 6 7 Reserve 8 Reserved 9 Reserved

Class winner

Race data

  • Starter: 55
  • Weather during the race weekend: warm and sunny
  • Distance: 13.640 km
  • Honorary starter of the race: Raymond Poulidor, French cyclist
  • Distance of the winning team: 5044.530 km
  • Winners section: 210.188 km / h
  • Pole Position: Jacky Ickx - Porsche 936 (# 6) - 3.27.060 = 236.531 km / h
  • Fastest race lap: Jean -Pierre Jabouille - Alpine A443 (# 1) - 3.34.200 = 229.244 km / h
  • Race series: counted at any racing series