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1972 Le Mans 24 Hours

24 heures du Mans

Saturday, June 10, 1972
Fastest Lap:
Van Lennep, 3m46.9
1972 season:

Le Mans

-A French Victory

Le Mans, France, June 10th/11th

The 1972 Le Mans 24-Hour Race, or Grand Prix of Endurance as it is called officially, will not go down in history as one of the more exciting events, but it will have its place, for it saw the first victory by a French car since 1950, when Louis Rosier and his son won with a Lago-Talbot. This year it was the French Matra team who won, success coming at last after a number of tries. It was quite a good Le Mans, in spite of a lot of last-minute withdrawals, but nothing like as good as it had promised to be earlier in the year, but the important thing was that it remained Le Mans and the classic 24-hour test of speed and endurance for the cars and stamina for the drivers. It was very much a "typical" Le Mans, about the only thing missing being the torrid Sunday morning heat that usually arrives about 11 a.m., when everyone is feeling tired and dirty. By then actual racing has subsided and the cars that are left running have settled into a steady rhythm of endurance, having only another five hours to run. This year the weather fluctuated from heavy rain to brief sunny periods, but never became stable in any circumstance, and there have been wetter and colder Le Mans races, and there have been warmer and drier ones. As so often happens Saturday afternoon opened with a "sprint", then things settled down, then troubles began, night fell and the cars went on and on by the light of their headlamps, dawn broke, retirements were continuous, for a car has to be strong and well prepared to last 24 hours at racing speeds, and those that were left went on to the final hour on Sunday afternoon.