24 Hours of Le Mans - Reinhold Joest, a birthday and a lucky number
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24 Hours of Le Mans - Reinhold Joest, a birthday and a lucky number

Reinhold Joest, celebrating his 78th birthday today (24 April), is the owner of the most successful team in Le Mans 24-Hour history, particularly as Audi

At the Paris press conference to launch the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2015 in February, Dr Ullrich, head of Audi’s endurance racing division, reminded the audience that even if the German marque had lost the N°1 car, it had often won with numbers 7 and 8... and the trio of Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer duly obliged by driving the N°7 car to victory at the 6 Hours of Silverstone on 12 April. But 7 became Audi’s lucky number thanks to Reinhold Joest, whose cars bore the number for many years.

In 1978, 7 was his number as Porsche factory driver at the wheel of a 936 prototype, partnered by the American duo Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood, finishing third. Then, before going on to partner Audi, he claimed his first four victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the number 7: in 1984 (Klaus Ludwig-Henri Pescarolo, Porsche 956), 1985 (Klaus Ludwig-Paolo Barilla-John Winter), 1996 (Alexander Wurz-Manuel Reuter-Davy Jones, Joest-Porsche TWR WSC) and 1997 (Michele Alboreto-Stefan Johansson-Tom Kristensen, Joest-Porsche TWR WSC). Finally, since Joest has been sporting Audi colours, number 7 has finished on the podium on three occasions: in 2000 (Dindo Capello-Michele Alboreto-Daniel Abt), 2006 and 2010 (Dindo Capello-Tom Kristensen-Allan McNish).

Already triple winners in 2011, 2012 and 2014, will Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer take Joest’s lucky number back to the top of the podium at Le Mans this year? Answer under the chequered flag at 3 p.m. on Sunday 14 June.

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO - English translation by David Goward

Photo (D.R. - ACO ARCHIVES): LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SUNDAY 17 JUNE 1984, PODIUM. Reinhold Joest (centre) celebrates his first Le Mans win at the head of his team, in the company of his drivers Klaus Ludwig (left) and Henri Pescarolo (right).