24 Hours, one driver, one car (22) : Maurice Trintignant and Ferrari

24 Hours, one driver, one car (22) : Maurice Trintignant and Ferrari

Sixty years ago, Maurice Trintignant (1917-2005) became the first French driver to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving a Ferrari.

In the early 1950s, Maurice Trintignant's career was first linked to Gordini, with whom he raced in Formula 1 and finished the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time, taking the chequered flag in sixth place with teammate Harry Schell in 1953.

Out of 15 participations, Trintignant raced at Le Mans six times with Ferrari. Following a retirement in 1952 driving a 340 America, he won in 1954 in a 375 Plus driving with Argentinian driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez. Five years after the prancing horse's first success at La Sarthe with Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon, Ferrari celebrated another victory with a high caliber driver lineup. Gonzalez had given the Italian marque its first win in Formula 1 in 1951 and was considered faster than his fellow countryman Juan Manuel Fangio...which is saying quite a lot considering the latter would take four consecutive F1 championships starting in 1954! During this period, Maurice Trintignant built his reputation not only with the 1954 victory at Le Mans, but also in 1955 when he became the first Frenchman to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix, still with Ferrari, at the prestigious Monaco GP.

Following his sixth place finish in 1953 and his victory in 1954, he would reach the podium two more times at the 24 Hours, a third place in 1956 in a Ferrari with Olivier Gendebien and a second place in 1959 in an Aston Martin DBR1 with journalist/driver Paul Frère, behind the sister car of Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby. After competing at Le Mans driving for Ferrari, Aston Martin, Simca, Gordini and also Porsche and Maserati, Trintignant took his final 24 Hours of Le Mans start in 1965 in a Ford GT40. Fifteen years later, his nephew, actor Jean-Louis Trintignant took the start in a Porsche 935 K3, but he and teammate Xavier Lapeyre were forced to retire from the race following a problem with the gearbox.

The 82nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held on June 14-15, 2014.

Photo : LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SATURDAY, JUNE 12 AND SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 1954, RACE. Under very difficult weather conditions, Maurice Trintignant and Jose Froilan Gonzalez (driving) drove the only finishing Ferrari 375 Plus of three factory entries to victory.

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