Jose Froilan Gonzalez, from Silverstone to the 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Jose Froilan Gonzalez, from Silverstone to the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Between Silverstone, who is hosting the opening round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) on April 20th, and Le Mans, Argentinian driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez (1922-2013) holds a very unique place not only in the history of the two legendary circuits, but also in Ferrari's.

Sixty years ago, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, along with French Maurice Trintignant, won Ferrari's second victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel of the 275 Plus, five years after Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon. But the marque owes other big firsts to the Argentinian driver. Three years earlier, Gonzalez simultaneously gave Ferrari the first of its 207 pole positions and of its 221 Formula 1 victories. On July 14, 1951, that Grand Prix of Great Britain was finished by an Argentinian 1-2 of Gonzalez and Juan Manuel Fangio. The two were teammates at their first appearance at the 1950 24 Hours, at the wheel of a Simca Gordini.

In 1954, after having retired on three occasions in 1950, 51 and 53, it was as the winner that Gonzalez passed under the checkered flag at Le Mans, for what would turn out to be his last participation. One month later, he was once again at Silverstone, and still at the wheel of a Ferrari, to win his second and final victory in Formula 1.

On Sunday, April 20th, the 6 Hours of Silverstone will launch the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

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

Photo: CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES (LE MANS, SARTHE), 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SATURDAY & SUNDAY JUNE 1954, RACE. His stoutness was worth it to Jose Froilan Gonzalez, here at the wheel of the Ferrari 375. It carried him to victory along with Maurice Trintignant, nicknamed the "bull of Pampa".