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Gijs van Lennep

Full Name:
Jonkheer Gijsbert van Lennep
16th March 1942 (Age 78)
Bloemendaal, Noord-Holland
Most recent race (in database):

Two weeks before the 1976 Le Mans 24 Hours, Gijs van Lennep announced that he would retire from racing at the end of the race. "It would be nice to end a career by winning," he continued. His wish came true – successful in the race for the second time. His 16 years behind the wheel included moderate Formula 1 success and undoubted endurance racing prowess.

Early racing career

He raced Formula Vee and Formula 3 during the mid 1960s but it was in sports cars that van Lennep first came to the fore. He drove a Racing for Holland Porsche 906 during 1966 before joining the works team for the following season. The highlight was his third place finish in the 1967 Circuito di Mugello when sharing a Porsche 911 with Vic Elford.

He won twice during the 1969 European Touring Car Championship before driving an AAW Porsche 917K in the 1970 Interserie. Victory at Keimola helped van Lennep secure the prestigious Porsche Cup for privateers. That attracted works attention once more and he finished second in the 1971 Targa Florio for Alfa Romeo.

Le Mans victory and Grand Prix debut

However, it was with Porsche that he scored his greatest victory to date when sharing a Martini-sponsored 917 with Helmut Marko at Le Mans that year. He also won the non-championship Paris 1000Kms at Montlhéry with Derek Bell sharing his John Wyer-entered Porsche 917.

He made his F1 debut by hiring a Surtees TS7-Ford for the 1971 Dutch Grand Prix. Entered by Stichting Autoraces Nederland, he finished eighth some five laps off the pace. His varied and busy schedule continued in 1972 – driving a Gulf Mirage in sports cars, representing both Alpina BMW and Alfa Romeo in European Touring Car Championship and winning the European Formula 5000 Championship with a Speed International Surtees TS11-Chevrolet.

Formula 1 with Williams

For 1973 van Lennep shared a works Porsche 911 Carrera RSR with Herbert Müller, the pair winning the Targa Florio and finishing fourth at Le Mans. He also returned to F1 that year when three races for Williams included a sixth place finish in the Dutch GP.

It was more of the same in 1974. Van Lennep finished second at Le Mans and Watkins Glen in sports cars and entered a couple of GPs for Williams, although he failed to qualify in Holland.

Final Le Mans success

His final three GP starts in 1975 were with HB Bewaking Team Ensign and he again scored a championship point by finishing sixth in the German GP. That was his last F1 race as he wound down a satisfying and respected career. He rounded it off in style with a popular victory in the 1976 Le Mans 24 Hours with Jacky Ickx and a works Martini Porsche 936 turbo.