The 24 Hours of Le Mans the inspiration behind Michel Vaillant (2): Jacky Ickx

The 24 Hours of Le Mans the inspiration behind Michel Vaillant (2): Jacky Ickx

Signed Philippe Graton and Xavier Chimits, the book "Jean Graton et Michel Vaillant, l'aventure automobile" (Hors Collection editions) unfolds great stories linking the creator and his character to the history to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with namely the regular presence of Jacky Ickx, six-time winner at Le Mans.

The history between the most famous driver in the comic and the Belgian champion goes back to...the very beginning to the 1950s. At the time, Michel Vaillant wasn't even born, and Jacky was still called Jacques Ickx, Junior, son of Jacques Ickx, one of the greatest motorsports writers at the Belgian daily Les which Jean Graton was an illustrator.

Nearly 20 years later, young Jacques becomes Jacky Ickx, one of the motorsports prodigies of the end of the 1960s. It was around that time that he made his first appearance along with Michel Vaillant. At Le Mans, of course, in the album "Le Fantôme des 24 Heures," in 1968 Jacky Ickx was at the wheel of a Ford GT40 for the Gulf team of John Wyer, but he never competed in that edition in real life following a leg fracture incurred during the free practice for the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Canada. Thereafter, the six-time winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans would become one of the regulars in Michel Vaillant's saga. "Michel Vaillant's rivals don't often win (...) So, sometimes, Jean Graton gave me the honour: I beat Michel Vaillant," revels Jacky Ickx in the pages of Philippe Graton and Xavier Chimits' book. A five-time winner at the 24 Hours, Jean Graton's driver, always a gentleman, would never steal from the Belgian driver what was at the time the win record at the 24 Hours (six wins) before Tom Kristensen hit the scene. And Jacky Ickx to conclude at the end of the album "Une histoire de fous": "Second behind Michel Vaillant is in no way shameful!"

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

Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SATURDAY & SUNDAY JUNE 9-10 1979. In the album "Un pilote a disparu" (1980), Jacky Ickx becomes the win record-holder at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a fifth victory at the wheel of this Porsche 936 after Michel Vaillant's retirement. In reality, this win in the story happens in the wheel of an identical car!

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