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24th Centenary – Le Mans Drivers Hall of Fame

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24 Hours of the Century – People and Machines Sebastien Buemi recently joined nine former 24 Hours winners in the Le Mans Drivers Hall of Fame, which was established in 2013 to celebrate the famous race’s 90th anniversary.

The Hall of Fame is an institution that honors the significant successes of individuals in a particular field, especially in the world of sports and entertainment.

The Le Mans Drivers’ Hall of Fame not only features past winners, but also the best drivers of the 24 Hours in their respective countries: Belgium’s Freddy Roussel (1927-2013, three starts), American Dick Thompson (1920-2014, six departures), and England’s Eric Thompson (1919-2015, seven terms), the Brazilian Franco Hermano da Silva Ramos (born 1925, four terms), and the Japanese Kunimitsu Takahashi (1940-2022, eight terms).

The previous ten winners who are currently inducted into the Hall of Fame have a total of 49 wins. They all tend to be associated with a particular car industry – Audi by Tom Christensen, Franck Biella, Emanuele Pirro and Alan McNish (Bentley also by Christensen), Porsche by Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell, Ferrari by Olivier Gendebien, Matra by Henri Pescarolo, Toyota by Sébastien Buemi – with One exception: Yannick Dalmas, we’ll also see elsewhere – even if his first success at Le Mans is also a first for Peugeot.

Tom Christensen or Jackie Ickx – who is “Mr. Lohmann”?

Is “Mr. Le Mans” necessarily the most successful driver? Once he took the checkered flag on June 19, 2005 to pass Ickx, Christensen was quick to insist that the Belgian ace retain his title. With 15 wins between them, Ickx and Kristensen represent nearly two and a half generations of the 24 Hours of Le Mans legend from his debut in 1966 to his final arc in 2014. No matter who the real Mr. Le Mans is, the title is unlikely. be taken over by someone else anytime soon.

Tom Christensen (born July 7, 1967) – 18 participant in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1997 to 2014, nine victories (1997, 2000-05, 2008, 2013), five more podium finishes.

Jackie Ickx (born January 1, 1945) – 15 entries in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1966 to 1985, six wins (1969, 1975-1977, 1981-82), three more podiums.

Derek Bell, Best Brit

The most successful British driver to have ever raced at Le Mans, Bell embodies a certain idea of ​​loyalty. First, he and Ickx formed one of the most distinguished racing duos in the French classic marathon, winning three of the four races they entered as a team. Bell went on to win two more times, each time with Al Hulbert of America and Hans-Joachim Stock of Germany.

Derek Bell (born October 31, 1941) – 26 starts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1970 to 1996, five wins (1975, 1981-82, 1986-87), four more podiums.

Frank Biella and Emmanuel Pirro took part in the performance

The German and Italian have five Le Mans victories to their credit, winning them all together! Like Christensen, Biella and Pirro were among the leaders in Audi’s winning streak, having shared the marque for the first time in 1999. They took their first three victories with the Danish record holder, before taking two more with Germany’s Marco Werner. These two wins with Werner also marked the first victory for a diesel-powered car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Emanuele Pirro (born January 12, 1962) – 13 24 Hours of Le Mans appearances from 1981 to 2010, five wins (2000-02, 2006-07), four more podiums.

Frank Biella (born August 2, 1964) – 10 starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1999 to 2008, five wins (2000-2002, 2006-2007) and four more podiums.

Olivier Gendebien, the other king of Belgium’s 24 Hours

Thanks to Gendebien (from 1962 to 1980), and then to Ickx (from 1981 to 2004), Belgian drivers have held the record for the most victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for more than four decades. The first four-time winner in the history of the race, Gendebien was also part of the first duo (with American Phil Hill) to win the legendary French endurance race three times. After sitting behind the wheel of a Porsche on his debut, Gendebien became the most successful Ferrari driver of all time in 24 hours – a record that still stands today.

Olivier Gendebien (January 12, 1924 to October 2, 1998) – Eight starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1955 to 1962, four wins (1958, 1960-1962), one more podium place.

Henri Pescarolo, French Legend

Pescarolo entered the 24 Hours of Legend before winning the race. In 1968, he had a memorable night driving performance despite a failed windshield wiper. His four successes won the hearts of the French public, whose adoration surpasses his place in the record books for the most number of race starts and his place as the only French driver to win three years in a row.

Henri Pescarolo (born September 25, 1942) – 33 24 Hours of Le Mans appearances from 1966 to 1999, four wins (1972-1974, 1984).

Yannick Dalmas, Mr. Tact

Without a doubt one of the pioneers of motor racing in the 1990s, Dalmas holds a unique place in the Hall of Fame with four wins in four different cars. But that versatility is as much a matter of circumstance as a reward for the talent that really blossomed on the Le Mans circuit, and which was quickly appropriated by team managers and constructors. Today, Delmas brings his expertise to the FIA ​​as a driver advisor for the World Endurance Championship.

Yannick Dalmas (born July 28, 1961) – 12 starts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1991 to 2002, four wins (1992, 1994-1995, 1999) and four more podium finishes.

Sebastien Buemi, a Swiss watchmaker

From 1923 to 2010, no Swiss national won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, over the course of the twelve races from 2011 to 2022, the top-rated Swiss driver has reached the podium no fewer than eight times. In chronological order, they are Marcel Fessler (three wins), Nel Jani (one) and Sebastien Buemi, the latest inductee to the Hall of Fame after his fourth win in 2022. At 35, Buemi still has time to go further. , given that Christensen, Bell, Beru, Bella, and Pescarolo were all over 40 when they declared their overall win.

Sebastien Buemi (born October 31, 1988) – 11 starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2012, four wins (2018-2020, 2022) and three more podiums.

Allan McNish, Scottish Spirit

After his first victory in a Porsche 911 GT1 in 1998, the Dumfries native joined Audi to set one of the best records in the history of endurance racing, with two consecutive Le Mans victories. He also became one of the most popular drivers on the grid with his combination of humour, charisma and skillful driving, with a bit of fear in the mix, as at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2011.

Alan McNish (born December 29, 1969) – 14 starts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1997 to 2013, three wins (1998, 2008, 2013) and five more podiums.

PHOTOS (© ACO Archives) – Top to Bottom: ACO President Pierre Fillon (left) and six former Hall of Fame inductees in 2013, with (left to right) Tom Christensen, Derek Bell, Emmanuel Pirro, Frank Biella, Yannick Dalmas, Henri Pescarolo . Jacky Ickx also holds the record for the number of pole positions in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (five, including three consecutive); Olivier Gendebien (right) in 1959, when he was forced to retire from the 24 Hours of Le Mans; Sebastien Buemi during his induction into the Hall of Fame in 2022; Alan McNish (left) hung up his helmet in 2013 after his third Le Mans victory.

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