Jochen Mass, a German story
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Jochen Mass, a German story

Born on September 30, 1946, Jochen Mass' experience at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was closely tied to German manufacturers: Porsche, Mercedes and BMW.

With Brit Derek Bell, the German driver was one of Jacky Ickx's most loyal teammates during the 1970s and '80s. Though the Belgian champion won three of his six victories at Le Mans with Bell, he only competed in two editions of the 24 Hours with Mass, in 1978 and 1985.

It was precisely in 1978, six years after his first participation at the 24 Hours in a Ford Capri, that Mass returned to Le Mans as a Porsche factory driver. Loyal to the German manufacturer, he has raced the 936, 956 and 962 C prototypes. After that long history (in 11 starts at Le Mans, seven were with Porsche), Mass joined Sauber, then partnered with Mercedes. At the 1989 24 Hours of Le Mans, the C9 he shared with his fellow countryman Manuel Reuter and Swedish driver Stanley Dickens emerged victorious after a lengthy battle with the Jaguar and Porsche prototypes. In 1991, his Sauber Mercedes was once again in the lead of the race when it was forced to retire against the Mazda 787 B, for the first (and only one to-date) win for a Japanese manufacturer at Le Mans.

Four years later, he was at the wheel of a McLaren F1 GTR (powered by BMW) along with John Nielsen and Thomas Bscher. That last participation at Le Mans was a fantastic nod to his career in single-seaters (106 Grand Prix from 1973 to 1982): in 1975, he won his only victory in Formula 1 at the Grand Prix of Spain in a McLaren M23! In three seasons, he rubbed elbows with two World Champions: Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt, who were his teammates in 1975 and 1976-77 respectively. Today, he remains one of the great witnesses of a time when it was common to go from a single-seater to a prototype from one race weekend to the next. He is a regular at the Le Mans Classic: in 2014, he showed the nuaces of the 24 Hours circuit to a teammate who was none other than Brian Johnson, lead singer of AC/DC!

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO - Translation by Nikki Ehrhardt / ACO

Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SUNDAY JUNE 11 1989, PODIUM. Jochen Mass (at left) uncorks the champagne after his sole win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in his ninth participation.