Report by Philip Turner and Anthony Curtis
Le Mans 24 Hours, June 18/19 on the 8.36 miles Sarthe circuit. Weather fine but cool with occasional showers.
The first six – General Classification
1st B. McLaren/C. Amon (7-litre Ford GT Mk. 2) 3,009.5 miles 125.4 mph
2nd K. Miles/D Hulme (7-litre Ford GT Mk. 2) 3,009.5 miles 125.4 mph
3rd R. Bucknum/R. Hutcherson (7-litre Ford GT Mk. 2) 2,909.2 miles 121.2 mph
4th C. Davis/J. Siffert (2-litre Porsche Carrera 6) 2,834.9 miles 118.1 mph
5th H. Herrmann/H. Linge (2-litre Porsche Carrera 6) 2,826.4 miles 117.8 mph
6th De Klerk/Schutz (2-litre Porsche Carrera 6) 2,818.0 miles 117.4 mph
There was something special about Le Mans this year, when most people expected Ford at last to topple Ferrari from his perch. Worried looking Ford executives in Dearborn had received a small card which, on one side, carried a map of the Le Mans circuit and on the other side a message: “Henry [Ford] Expects You to Win”. Heading the Ford onslaught were the eight 7-litre Ford GT Mk. 2s, of which three had been entered by Shelby America Inc., three by engine tuners Holman and Moody and two by Alan Mann from Britain.
In spite of the multiple entry system the teams seemed to work as one; there was none of that sense of “too many generals and too few firemen” that one gained last year. The big Peugeot garage on the outskirts of Le Mans where the cars were housed was a picture of orderliness with the eight cars plus a spare, all of which had been air freighted from the States, ranged side by side, as though on a production line. To look after these jumbo cars with their massive engines and gearboxes were an army of jumbo-sized mechanics, none of whom looked as though he weighed less than 14 stone. It was truly a considerable operation that Ford had launched, and to lead his troops to victory had come Henry Ford II in person. Which was very fitting as it was entirely due to his great enthusiasm that Ford had embarked on a competition programme in the first place.