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Jean Ragnotti

29th August 1945 (Age 75)
Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
Most recent race (in database):

Although primarily known for his rallying exploits, Jean Ragnotti also enjoyed a run of success in the Le Mans 24 Hours during the late-1970s. He began rallying a Fiat 850 in national events during 1967 while also competing in hillclimbs. With support from his brother-in-law’s trucking firm, Ragnotti attracted the support of General Motors in 1969 and he drove an Opel Kadett that year.

He won his class on the 1970 Monte Carlo Rally but that was a frustrating season littered with retirements. Increasingly hampered by his machinery, Ragnotti switched to a Lancia Fulvia in 1972 and ran second in San Remo before retiring once more. He also raced in Formula 3 at the time and his Antar March 733-Ford won the 1973 Coupe du Salon at Montlhéry.

World Rally Championship success for Renault

Much of his rallying career was spent behind the wheel of a Renault and it was with the R5 turbo that Ragnotti established himself in the World Rally Championship. He scored his breakthrough victory in the 1981 Monte Carlo on his first WRC event with the car. Ragnotti also won the 1982 and 1985 Tour de Corse for the marque. French Rally Champion in 1980 and 1984, his best WRC campaign was 1987. He finished second in Portugal with a Renault 11 turbo and was fifth in the final standings. Ragnotti had also driven an Opel Commodore at the Nürburgring in a race that supported the 1972 German Grand Prix.

Le Mans 24 Hours

He dabbled with that form of the sport throughout the decade and made his Le Mans debut in 1975 – the first of seven appearances over the next eight years. Fourth and GTP class winner in 1977 with Jean Rondeau’s Inaltera-Ford, he was a member of the successful Renault team a year later. Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud won the 1978 Le Mans for the marque and Ragnotti shared the fourth-placed Alpine A442B-Renault. He returned to Rondeau for the next four years – finishing fifth in 1979 to win Group Six before he and Henri Pescarolo qualified on pole position in 1980. His last start at Le Mans came in 1982.