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Michel Leclere

18th March 1946 (Age 74)
Mantes-la-Jolie, Ile-de-France
Most recent race (in database):

Successful in the junior formulae, Michel Leclère was unable to establish himself as a Grand Prix driver.

Impressive in the junior categories

A smooth and meticulous driver, Leclère won both the national Formula Renault and Formula 3 titles for the works Alpine-Renault team in 1971 and 1972 respectively. That latter success was achieved despite missing a month of the season when he fell ill with appendicitis during a test at Paul Ricard.

He made a one-off Formula 2 start with John Coombs’ Alpine A367 at Albi in 1973. That led to a full season for the marque’s second-string Ecurie Elf team when third at Hockenheim was the highlight as he finished sixth in the European F2 Championship.

Leclère moved to the works March-BMW team for 1975 and qualified on pole position for the opening round at Estoril. The Frenchman won three times but it was Jacques Laffite’s year with both Leclère and team-mate Patrick Tambay finishing equal second in the final reckoning.

Formula 1 with Tyrrell and Williams

He ended the year by making his Formula 1 debut in the 1975 United States GP driving a third Tyrrell 007-Ford but he qualified in a disappointing 20th position when almost three seconds behind his team-mates. He then retired after just five laps with engine failure.

Leclère planned a twin programme for 1976 – joining the Walter Wolf-funded Frank Williams Racing Cars in F1 and racing an Elf-Renault in F2. Although GP success was just three years away, Williams was not a competitive proposition at the time and Leclère did not finish higher than 10th before being dropped mid-season. His F2 campaign included victory at the Salzburgring from 19th on the grid as he finished fourth in the points.

Final Formula 2 disappointment

Intent on earning an F1 return, Leclère drove for Willi Kauhsen’s F2 team in 1977 and the ingredients seemed right – an experienced race winner armed with the previous championship-winning chassis and engines. He put it on pole for the opening round again but the year was a shambles. The team grew ever worse and his only finish was outside the points. Disaster.

His F1 dreams at an end, Leclère retired from professional racing in 1979.