1981 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 49th 24 -hour Le Mans race, the Grand Prix d' Endurance les 49e 24 Heures du Mans, was held from June 13 to 14 place in 1981 at the Circuit des 24 Heures.

  • 2.1 pilots after Nations
  • 2.2 Final ranking
  • 2.3 Only in the message list
  • 2.4 Class Winner
  • 2.5 racing data

The race

New racing classes

The Automobile Club de l' Ouest took the introduction of group C, which is categorized in the sports car world championship from 1982, the great prototypes, anticipated and opened the old group 6 for race car about 3-liter displacement. The IMSA class was divided into four categories. Now vehicles in classes IMSA -GTP, IMSA GTO, IMSA GTU and IMSA GTX were to start.

New qualifying format

Also the qualifying format was revised. Still had 55 cars to start. In order to achieve the qualification of the average of the three fastest times was only determined in the overall standings. Now, were not allowed to be longer than the value of 130 % of this time. The same was true for your class. Again, a section of the three best times was determined. However, here the threshold value was 110 %. The tank capacity of the vehicles was limited to 120 liters.

Rolling stock

The majority of the cars presented the Porsche brand. The work team brought new Porsche 936 to the Sarthe. The driver teams formed Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell and Hurley Haywood, Vern Schuppan and Jochen Mass. In the vehicles came a new 2.6-liter turbocharged engine to use, which was originally developed for the 500-mile race at Indianapolis in 1979. Two other works cars were reported in the GTP and the IMSA GTO class. The GTP Porsche 944 LM drove Jürgen Barth and he German World Rally Champion Walter Röhrl.

In addition to many private Porsche 935 Porsche 917 replica of Kremer Racing was the attraction of the race. Trailer also came from Lancia that rolled a racing version of the Lancia Beta Monte Carlo at the start. From France came five Rondeau - including new prototypes of Jean Rondeau, factory team, the winning team of the previous year.

In addition to Walter Röhrl, gave the Americans Cale Yarborough and the Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto two drivers their debut that were active in other areas of motorsport as Röhrl. Yarborough came from the NASCAR and Cecotto worked as a motorcycle racer.

Fatal accidents

1 ½ hours after the start of the race - at this time the two Porsche 936 were already clearly in the lead - had the young Belgian Thierry Boutsen, who drove a WM P81 Welter Racing - a serious accident on the Les Hunaudieres. Boutsen lost at high speed control of his vehicle and crashed at the break before the Mulsanne into the guardrail. By parts flying four marshals were injured, two of them so hard that they still died at the accident scene, despite rapid assistance.

The field was led around by the long safety car in slower driving on the track. At this time the Frenchman Jean -Louis Lafosse was a Rondeau M379 at the seventh place overall and had his first fuel stop still ahead when the race was released. Before him, the Briton Guy Edwards drove in a Lola T600 and both vehicles approached suddenly the Mulsanne with almost 350 km / h speed than the Rondeau and collided into the left guardrail. Two more, standing just behind the guard rail marshals were seriously injured. The Rondeau was thrown across the road, crashed into the right guardrail and was completely destroyed. Lafosse had no chance of survival and died in the wreck. An accident cause a fracture of the left front suspension was adopted. However, after the race were published pictures of the car (taken just before the accident ), on which the Rondeau is seen with damage to the front end and grass stains. Whether Lafosse had come off before the accident once the track and had damaged the front of the car, could never be clarified. That left the question of whether this ride could be related to the later accident related, to this day unanswered.

Another race course

The Porsche 936 of Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell drove a lonely race at the front of the race. While the sister car was plagued by engine problems and only ranked 12 was classified at the end of the race, had the Ickx / Bell car in the destination 186 km ahead of the Rondeau by Jean -Louis Schlesser, Philippe Streiff and Jacky Haran.

Hurley Haywood drove 3:34.000 a new lap record in the race and Ickx / Bell achieved with 4825.348 km driven a new distance record for the 13.626 -km track layout.


Pilot after Nations

Final ranking

1 2 replacement car not qualified not qualified 4 3 5 not qualify unqualified 6 7 Reserve Reserve Reserve 8

Only in the message list

Here are the teams, drivers and vehicles that were originally registered for the competition, but it did not participate for various reasons.

Class winner

Race data

  • Reported: 73
  • Started: 55
  • Weather during the race weekend: hot and sunny
  • Distance: 13.626 km
  • Honorary starter of the race: Jean -Marie Balestre, President of the FIA
  • Distance of the winning team: 4825.348 km
  • Winners section: 201.056 km / h
  • Pole Position: Jacky Ickx - Porsche 936 (# 11) - 3.29.440 = 223.213 km / h
  • Fastest race lap: Hurley Haywood - Porsche 936 (# 12) - 3.34.000 = 229.231 km / h
  • Race series: 8th round of the World Sportscar Championship