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This year Le Mans was run to the new Formula of 3-litres for Group 6 cars and 5-litres for Group 4 and the new chicane before the pits was in use, so that cars had to brake heavily after the White House Esses and negotiate two 45-m.p.h. corners before accelerating up the hill past the pits. The entry was not of a very high standard and only 54 cars started, instead of the traditional 55. In view of the long hours of darkness the race ran from 3 p.m. Saturday to 3 p.m. Sunday and, apart from four hours of rain in the night, conditions were better than expected. The race was a straight fight between the Gulf-sponsored team of GT40 Fords prepared and run by J.W. Automotive, running in 4.9-litre form as Group 4 cars, and the works Porsche team of 3-litre prototypes. Unknown quantities were the team of works Alpine-Renault V8 cars and a lone Matra V12, with the Grand Prix engine. Autodelta entered a strong team of Alfa Romeo "33" coupés with their eye on the 2-litre class, and the Howmet Corporation entered two of their impressive turbine cars. There were a great number of private owners, no works Ferraris and 15 French drivers taking part in their first Le Mans, as were many drivers from other countries. The outcome of the season's Manufacturers' Championship depended on the result of Le Mans, for Ford, represented by the Gulf cars, and Porsche were equal on results.