24h Le Mans
26/06/2020 - 15:01

24 Hours of Le Mans – 60th anniversary of the win for Ferrari 250 TR of Frère/Gendebien

Sixty years ago, on 26 June 1960, Ferrari won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a 250 TR shared by Belgian drivers Paul Frère and Olivier Gendebien.
24 Hours of Le Mans – 60th anniversary of the win for Ferrari 250 TR of Frère/Gendebien

For the 28th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest welcomed 72 entrants. Fifty-eight cars hit the track for the qualifying sessions and 55 took the start. That year, the race served as the fifth and final round of the international championship with two classes competing, sports cars and GTs. The participation of Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin foreshadowed major battles for victory while other constructors such as Lotus, Porsche and DB focused on energy efficiency. The GT class was packed with the likes of Chevrolet, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and MG. The pantheon of drivers that year included Phil Hill, Graham Hill, the Rodríguez brothers, Maurice Trintignant, Jim Clark, Olivier Gendebien and Paul Frère.

After losing to Aston Martin and the DB R-1s at Le Mans and in the championship in 1959, the following year Ferrari chose to enter the 250 TR (for Testa Rossa). The Maseratis proved fast but unreliable, and the Aston Martins couldn't keep up pace with the Ferraris. Things were looking good for the Italian marque, but two 250 TRs ran out of fuel three hours into the race and early evening rain added to the precariousness of the situation.

In the end, the #11 Ferrari 250 TR shared by Belgian drivers Paul Frère and Olivier Gendebien won the race with a four-lap lead on the #17 Ferrari 250 TR fielded by North American Racing Team entrusted to Ricardo Rodríguez and André Pilette. Belgium joined Italy in triumph as the Prince of Mérode – President of the FIA and the Royale Automobile Club of Belgium and honorary starter of the 28th running of the race – joined three of his fellow countrymen on the podium (André Pilette was also a Belgian national). It was Ferrari's fourth Le Mans win with five more to follow in 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965. In all, the Italian manufacturer boasts nine victories at the 24 Hours. Believing a win at the 24 Hours the ultimate triumph, Paul Frère decided to retire from competition in 1960.

For the 90th anniversary celebration of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013, the Ferrari 250 TR was selected among 30 outstanding cars from the race's history.