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The JAGUAR #03

  • Text
  • Jaguar
  • Formula
  • Racing
  • Theatre
  • Mans
  • Rover
  • Sportbrake
  • Awards
  • Urban
  • Gorillaz
The latest issue introduces our new ‘cub’, the E-PACE compact practical sports car, which is already turning heads on the street. As we commit to electrifying every new Jaguar from 2020, we explore how pushing boundaries on track helps develop our sports cars, from writing motorsport history at Le Mans, to taking on the Nürburgring with the extreme XE SV Project 8 and being at the very cutting edge with the FIA Formula E Championship.

LE MANS 1957 Some

LE MANS 1957 Some 250,000 spectators lined the famous Le Mans circuit in 1957 to watch Ecurie Ecosse’s ‘Number 3’ D-type dominate its rivals Mechanic Ron Gaudion and his Ecurie Ecosse teammates drove their D-types off the ferry at Cherbourg in 1957, and the cries began. ‘Vive la Jagwar! Vive la Jagwar!’ “All the way from Cherbourg to Le Mans, people lined the streets, leaned out of their windows; kids and adults ran up to touch the cars and ask us questions,” the Australian recalls. “It was stirring stuff, and the race was still days away.” Everybody already knew the Jaguar D-type. Its aviationinfluenced monocoque construction, the work of designer Malcolm Sayer, was radically different to its peers to offer enhanced aerodynamic efficiency. “It was built for success at Le Mans,” says Andy Wallace, chief test driver at Jaguar Land Rover Classic. He should know – he has first-hand experience behind the wheel of the D-type, driving one to victory at the 2016 Le Mans Classic. “The quality stands out immediately; it’s incredibly well put together. It’s very fast in a straight line, which is perfect for the massive Le Mans straight.” The D-type’s unique design had already helped it claim victory at the 1955 and 1956 24-hour endurance race. But nobody could anticipate what was to happen in 1957. Jaguar had decided to retire its works team from motor racing at the end of 1956, but five privately entered D-types, in four separate teams, made their way to Le Mans for the ’57 race. Two belonged to Ecurie Ecosse, a small outfit set up by Francophile Scotsman David Murray in the early 1950s. It had sprung a surprise in 1956 when its D-type won ahead of the Jaguar works team. Despite that success, expectations the following year were moderate. “We were very relaxed about our prospects, mainly because the big manufacturer teams from Ferrari, Aston Martin and Maserati looked so good,” says Gaudion, who was initially a mechanic at the Jaguar works team before moving to Ecurie Ecosse in 1956. Maserati, with its 450S, nicknamed ‘The Bazooka’, looked particularly strong and boasted a line-up that included both Stirling Moss and the great Juan Manuel Fangio. True enough, the Maseratis and Ferraris looked ominous in practice, with Fangio setting the circuit’s fastest single lap of the decade. On the eve of the gruelling race the lead Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar developed a misfire, so Gaudion and his two fellow mechanics worked frantically to fix the problem. Once they’d finished, team owner David Murray, who was himself a former racing driver, took it out at 4am on the morning of the race to “THE ATMOSPHERE WAS JUST FANTASTIC – THERE WAS A REAL BUZZ ABOUT THE WHOLE PLACE” PHOTOGRAPHY: KLEMANTASKI COLLECTION / KONTRIBUTOR / GETTY IMAGES; PRIVAT 44 THE JAGUAR

Ron Gaudion (second from left, with hand on windshield) looks on as Ron Flockhart (left) and Ivor Bueb (right) acknowledge the crowd after winning the 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans test it. “He couldn’t take it onto the track, but that wasn’t going to stop him, so he was driving around at 170mph on public roads instead!” Gaudion laughs. By the time the race began at 4pm on Saturday 22 June, 250,000 spectators had lined the circuit, anticipating a keenly contested race. “The atmosphere was just fantastic – there was a real buzz about the whole place,” recalls Gaudion. “Our tactic was simple: keep it steady and let the main contenders battle it out among themselves for the first hours. Le Mans is incredibly hard on a car, and we knew we’d good reliability.” At the start of the third hour, the lead ‘Number 3’ Ecosse D-type of Ron Flockhart, the driver who’d won the race the previous year, and Ivor Bueb, the winner in 1955, found themselves in front. The two were well-matched: Flockhart, a dashing Scot who would pilot himself between races; Bueb, calm, unflappable and an excellent night driver. Lap after lap, they remained in front. Behind them, the four other Jaguar D-types were also still running well while other manufacturer cars succumbed to mechanical issues. “I think it was with about three hours to go that we really thought we had a good chance of winning,” Gaudion says. “By that time, we were all exhausted. The lead car was running so well, but we couldn’t switch off. Because there was no radio, you never knew when they might come in with a problem. We just had to survive on adrenaline.” “WE COULDN’T SWITCH OFF. WE JUST HAD TO SURVIVE ON ADRENALIN” But such was the speed and reliability of the Jaguar that by the time the chequered flag fell at 4pm on Sunday, the two Ecurie Ecosse entries were first and second, with the other D-types third, fourth and sixth. “Oh, the relief!” Ron Gaudion recalls with a chuckle. “When the flag came down, we thought, ‘thank God for that’. Team boss David Murray had ordered some champagne mid-afternoon, because he had a feeling we might do well, so we all got stuck into that and had a celebratory dinner the next night.” It was the third consecutive Le Mans win for the D-type, securing the car’s place as one of the 24-hour race’s greats. For Jaguar, it was an incredible feat: never before had a single manufacturer dominated the world’s premiere sports car race in such convincing fashion. That the five Jaguars did so in private teams, against works teams from the world’s foremost sports car manufacturers, makes this achievement all the more exceptional. Jaguar Land Rover Classic is dedicated to preserving and restoring our motoring heritage for future generations to enjoy and cherish. To find out more, visit jaguar.com/classic THE JAGUAR 45

 

JAGUAR

THE JAGUAR #03

 

THE JAGUAR magazine celebrates the art of performance with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from dynamic driving to seductive design and cutting-edge technology.

The latest issue of The Jaguar magazine introduces our new ‘cub’, the E-PACE compact practical sports car, which is already turning heads on the street. As we commit to electrifying every new Jaguar from 2020, we explore how pushing boundaries on track helps develop our sports cars, from writing motorsport history at Le Mans, to taking on the Nürburgring with the extreme XE SV Project 8 and being at the very cutting edge with the FIA Formula E Championship.

The Library

The JAGUAR #03
The Jaguar #02
THE JAGUAR #01
The Blockbuster Issue

© JAGUAR LAND ROVER LIMITED 2016

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