1991 24 Hours of Le Mans: Facing the Giants
By: Jeremy McMullen
- Johnny Herbert: Rational Nonsensical Expectations
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By: Jeremy McMullen
| It had been more than thirty years but the Silver Arrows would compete, and win, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Jaguar would also earn its first victory in more than thirty years when it took the overall honors in 1988. And then there was Porsche, the most dominant mark in Le Mans history. But each of these three manufacturers shared something in common. Even with the victories by Ford during the 1960s there was something very interesting about the list of victors in the 24 French enduro—none of them were Japanese manufacturers.
Heading into the 59th edition of the 24 hour race it seemed highly unlikely a Japanese manufacturer would finally break the stranglehold held by European and North American manufacturers. Mazdaspeed would be the only Japanese entry in the field of 39 cars. And amongst all of the Japanese manufacturers to ever enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Mazda seemed the most unlikely to achieve the feat given the underpowered rotary engine that powered its 787B chassis.
In response to the incredible speeds cars were capable of reaching down the long Mulsanne straight, the 1990 edition of the race would see the introduction of two chicanes along the entirety of the Mulsanne meant to break up the straight and reduce top speeds. In previous years drivers would come around Tetre Rouge and would prepare for more than a minute flat out reaching speeds of 250 mph down the long straight. Now the driver would have less of a break but would still hit speeds in excess of 200 mph.
The chicanes would again be in place for the 1991 edition of the race. So too would the new pit complex that had been planned for more than a year. The state-of-the-art pit complex would provide teams and officials new comforts and would also increase safety around the pitlane.
'Event: 24 Heures du Mans', (http://www.racingsportscars.com/photo/Le_Mans-1991-06-23.html?sort=Results). Racing Sports Cars. http://www.racingsportscars.com/photo/Le_Mans-1991-06-23.html?sort=Results. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
'Circuits', (http://www.maisonblanche.co.uk/circuits.html). Maison Blanche. http://www.maisonblanche.co.uk/circuits.html. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
'1991 Le Mans 24 Hours', (http://www.teamdan.com/archive/wsc/1991/91lemans.html). 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours. http://www.teamdan.com/archive/wsc/1991/91lemans.html. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
Wikipedia contributors. 'Volker Weidler.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 May. 2012. Web. 1 Jun. 2012.
'Drivers: Bertrand Gachot', (http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/drv-gacber.html). GrandPrix.com. http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/drv-gacber.html. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
Wikipedia contributors. '1991 24 Hours of Le Mans.' Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 May. 2012. Web. 1 Jun. 2012.
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