Jean Rondeau ( born May 13, 1946 in Le Mans; † 27 December 1985 Champagné ) was a French race car driver and designer of sports cars.
First race at Le Mans
Rondeau began his career like many of his compatriots in Formula Renault, but realized early on that his true passion was sports car with the routes and. In 1972 he took first at the 24 -hour race in Le Mans part. In 1976, he came into the team as a driver of Inaltera and was team-mate Jean -Pierre and Henri Pescarolo Beltoise.
Rondeau began in 1978 with the construction of sports cars, with the aim, so to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The factory, he moved to close the circuit, with the Rondeau M378 was the first time in 1978 with his own team to the Sarthe. The car was powered by a Ford -Cosworth V8 engine and succeeded in the cast Jean Rondeau / Bernard Darniche / Jacky Haran a ninth place overall. Rondeau was there working as a driver, designer and team leader in personal union. Confirmed by this success came Rondeau 1979 already with a 2- car team to Le Mans. This time Rondeau opted not to participate as a driver and concentrated on working as a team boss. The vehicles with the type designation M379 were controlled by Beltoise / Pescarolo and Darniche / Ragnotti and both came in the top ten in the overall standings ( the Ragnotti cars arrived in fifth place, which was driven by Pescarolo in the final turn Tenth ).
1980 reached Rondeau again even at the wheel. Together with Jean -Pierre Jaussaud who with Didier Pironi was victorious at Le Mans in 1978, he drove one of the three M379B. The race should be a triumph for the small private team. Rondeau and Jaussaud delivered over the entire race distance a tough duel with the Porsche 908 of Jacky Ickx and Reinhold Joest and won by a margin of two laps of the Porsche. Rondeau is now the only driver in the long history of this race, who celebrated the victory with a vehicle that bears his name. Of success was rounded off with the third overall of another M379B, driven by Gordon Spice and the Belgian Martin brothers.
Further successes and setbacks
In 1981, Rondeau with the configuration M379CL and five cars to Le Mans. The race was overshadowed by the fatal accident of Jean -Louis Lafosse, who was killed in the early morning hours of Sunday at the end of the Mulsanne with the Rondeau and still died at the accident site. That two works cars behind the Porsche 936 of Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell took second and third place overall, could not detract from the tragic loss of Lafosse. In addition, the cause of the accident was never fully explained. 1982 again, but this time without success, Rondeau came with a factory team to Le Mans. As of 1983, the fast cars of various private teams were brought to the Start (1983 by Ford France with Philippe Streiff Jaussaud and in the car ). Rondeau remained active as a designer, and the vehicles were from 1982, the model designation M382. For the last time you saw a 1988 Rondeau in Le Mans. The work team was disbanded in late 1982. Jean Rondeau thought himself already as the winner of the brand 'Cup World Sports Car Championship, the FIA as it failed this success. She allowed Porsche, points of a private Porsche 930, the price of oil peaked in the 1000 km race at the Nürburgring, to which to add the factory team. Porsche was declared the overall winner and Otis, the main sponsor, withdrew.
Rondeau himself came in 1984 and 1985, twice as a driver to Le Mans in 1984 and completely by surprise with a Porsche 956, used by the Americans Preston Henn, second in the overall standings.
Jean Rondeau died in December 1985 in a tragic accident in Champagné. He came with his private vehicle (supposedly he followed a police vehicle that wanted to control him ) on the rails of a railway crossing to a halt, as joined the barriers. The car was hit by a train, and Rondeau was killed.