Australians at Le Mans

VERN SCHUPPAN - DEBUT 1973 "It is such a tough race because there are so many factors that can influence the result. Just getting to the finish can be half the battle. I have been lucky to win but there are other guys like Brian Redman who was ...

Australians at Le Mans

VERN SCHUPPAN - DEBUT 1973

"It is such a tough race because there are so many factors that can influence the result. Just getting to the finish can be half the battle. I have been lucky to win but there are other guys like Brian Redman who was regarded as one of the best sportscar drivers in the world, but he never finished the race.

"When I won in 1983, we were actually lucky to finish the race. I had finished 2nd the year before and I was actually standing on the podium with one of my team-mates Hurley Haywood when we noticed smoke coming out of the back of the car.

"We had led the race for 21 hours and the engine actually seized as Al Holbert crossed the line. You could imagine the range of emotions we went through."

TIM SCHENKEN - DEBUT 1970

"I drove for the French team Matra in 1970 but all the cars blew up in the first hour and I didn't get to drive - this was despite completing a 28 hour test before the race. I did Le Mans six times and back in my day there was no chicane after the pits and the Mulsanne Straight also had no chicanes. ³You had to nurse the cars a little more back then. The plan was to set yourself a lap time and try to maintain a steady pace to stay on the lead lap.

"It was also hard to know where you were in the race because there was often confusion between the pits and signalling area which was on the other side of the track.

"When I drove for Ferrari with Carlos Reuteman in 1973, I remember driving down the main straight and looking up at the Goodyear Blimp which had an electronic scoreboard below it to see where we were in the race!"

GEOFF BRABHAM - DEBUT 1990

"Le Mans has such a great tradition because the race has been around so long with so many great drivers competing. Racing over 24 hours can be extremely draining. It is not so bad with one of the professional factory outfits, but if you are in a low budget team, sleeping between your stint on top of a tool box in the back of the shed is not very comfortable.

"When I won for Peugeot in 1993 I was the only non-French speaking person amongst a 200 person team. Despite that Jean Todt (now Ferrari's F1 team manager) asked me to finish the race.

"It was quite an experience to win at Le Mans with a French team and be in the car as it took the chequered flag.

"It really was an unbelievable feeling with the crowd flooding the track and all the track marshals waving their flags, it was a race I will never forget."

DAVID BRABHAM ­ DEBUT 1992

"I had the initiation from hell at my first Le Mans. My team-mate crashed the car on the opening lap and by the time they repaired the car and I had my turn to drive, the circuit was blanketed in thick fog and it was raining really heavily. It was actually quite terrifying.

"This year will be my seventh Le Mans and I would certainly love to win it. Le Mans, the Indy 500 and the Monte Carlo Grand Prix are the three most famous races in the world and I would love to join my brother, Geoff, as a Le Mans 24 Hour winner.²

GREG MURPHY - DEBUT 1996

"I've only done the race once, but it really was one of the highlights of my career. The track, the place, the heritage, I would love to go back and do it again. The circuit was really tough to get used to, particularly through the high-speed sections.

"I drove a Porsche with a fellow Kiwi Bill Farmer and British driver Robert Nearn and we ended up 2nd in our class, and 14th outright after starting from 46th on the grid. It was really tough keeping out of the way of the outright cars, particularly at night. You would be driving along when all of sudden a swarm of headlights would appear from nowhere.

"At the end of the race the adrenaline would wear off and it would just hit you - we were all exhausted. These cars are great to drive - I would love to race one in Adelaide at the end of the year."

<pre> OTHER AUSTRALIANS WHO HAVE DRIVEN AT LE MANS INCLUDE: - SIR JACK BRABHAM - ALAN JONES - LEX DAVISON - BIB STILLWELL - MARK WEBBER - PETER BROCK - LARRY PERKINS - MARK SKAIFE - ALAN MOFFATT - WAYNE GARDNER - ALLAN GRICE - PAUL HAWKINS - LUCIO CESARIO - EVAN CLEMENTS - NEIL CRANG - RUSTY FRENCH - RAY LINTOTT - MIKE HALL - DEREK JOLLY - BRIAN MUIR - BARRY SMITH - DAVID SUTHERLAND

shares
comments
Michelin prepares for tire war

Previous article

Michelin prepares for tire war

Next article

Chrysler Mounts a Five Car Assault

Chrysler Mounts a Five Car Assault
Load comments

About this article

Series Le Mans
Drivers Brian Redman , Hurley Haywood , Robert Nearn , Bill Farmer , Jean Todt
How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans Prime

How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans

It's one of the great what-if stories in Le Mans history. Paul Newman finished second in the 24 Hours in 1979, but it could easily have been a famous victory were it not for the resourcefulness of the late Manfred Kremer.

Le Mans
Apr 13, 2021
Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile Prime

Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile

Making a return to top-flight sportscar racing after 50 years away, Ferrari will enter the Le Mans Hypercar ranks in 2023. The Italian marque denies the link with Formula 1's new cost cap that frees up resources, but it's certainly no coincidence...

WEC
Feb 25, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Prime

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories.

Le Mans
Jan 28, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Prime

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it…

Le Mans
Jan 24, 2021
The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home Prime

The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home

Keeping trophies and momentos of key triumphs is par for the course for motorsport professionals, but what are the most cherished souvenirs picked up by the drivers and engineers who have seen and done it all?

General
Dec 26, 2020
The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing's greatest era Prime

The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing's greatest era

Porsche is returning to the top class of Le Mans with an LMDh prototype that it hopes will write its next successful chapter in sportscar racing. But it will have to go some to emulate its 956/962, a car which defines the Group C age more than any other.

Le Mans
Dec 16, 2020
How Tom Kristensen forged his ‘Mr Le Mans’ legend Prime

How Tom Kristensen forged his ‘Mr Le Mans’ legend

He is synonymous with success at the Circuit de la Sarthe, but Tom Kristensen's sportscar legacy amounts to much more than his record-breaking nine Le Mans wins, as the most successful driver ever at Sebring and a world champion to boot…

Le Mans
Dec 7, 2020
Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars Prime

Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars

OPINION: The news that Audi will return to Le Mans means we'll at last get to see the fight promised in 2012 against Peugeot and Toyota. It also gives LMDh a tangible form, which could open the floodgates for more like-minded marques to follow suit…

WEC
Dec 1, 2020