Johnny Herbert looks back on his 1991 Le Mans Victory
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Johnny Herbert looks back on his 1991 Le Mans Victory

Louis Rosier’s single-handed victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1950 has never been repeated. Competing with his son Jean-Louis, he raced the car alone for...

Louis Rosier, a solo Le Mans victory in 1950

Louis Rosier’s single-handed victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1950 has never been repeated. Competing with his son Jean-Louis, he raced the car alone for more than 23 hours, only handing the wheel over to this son for two laps. “I can't imagine doing that and I don’t want to!” says Herbert. “First the sun goes down and gets in your eyes and then it goes dark – he had to deal with all of that on his own!”

Jacky Ickx, agony and ecstasy at Le Mans in 1977

A legendary race in the eyes of many endurance enthusiasts. At 9 am, Jacky Ickx took back the lead after what had been until then a tough race for Renault’s Alpines. Ickx had fought through the night, beating the lap record several times and had driven alone for more than 12 hours. Once he had decided to hand the wheel back to his teammates, there was a cylinder failure in the final hour. The promised victory seemed to have slipped through their fingers... until Jurgen Barth managed to take the car slowly round the final lap to save the day. “Jacky had to sit there and watch to see whether Jurgen could nurse the car round and take the line.” After a tense final lap, they took the win. “It was the Belgian’s fourth Le Mans win and his third in a row,” explains The Guardian’s Giles Richards.

Mazda’s surprise win at Le Mans in 1991

Johnny Herbert was involved in a serious accident in an F3000 race at Brands Hatch in 1988. Some people thought that it would mark the end of his career but Herbert has since said that his determination remained unaffected, despite his injuries. He came back to compete in Formula 1 and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “It was a point in my career where I felt had to prove to other people that I was strong enough to continue in Formula 1 without a problem. We had this cunning plan to do Le Mans (with Bertrand Gachot and Volker Weidler) as Formula 1 drivers and we thought we’d just drive it flat out. We didn’t realistically think we would have a chance of winning. Then, as things went on, we realised that we were conserving fuel and that enabled us to go much longer and we won it!" The Mazda 787B is still the only car with a rotary engine to have won Le Mans and Mazda is the only Japanese manufacturer to have made it to the top of the podium. We’ll have to wait and see if Toyota are able to reproduce that exploit this June at the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Jota Sport: an incredible feat at Le Mans in 2014

Loïc Duval was involved in a spectacular accident in his Audi R18 e-tron quattro during the practice sessions at the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours. Amazingly, he was unhurt but was ruled out of the race and replaced by Audi’s reserve driver, Marc Gené. Gené had been entered in LM P2 with Jota Sport, so that team then had to get in a third driver for their Zytek Z11SN. Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell, who was a rookie that year, were thus joined by Oliver Turvey, another newcomer, who was called up at the last minute. He didn't expect to be at the race, but came away with a class victory! “If I got a last minute call like that, I’d think ‘I’m going to do a good job, this is my chance, this is my opportunity’. That is what a top-class driver should be able to do because things don’t always go the way you want them to... but if you have an opportunity, you’ve got to grab it.”