24h Le Mans
23/02/2017 - 11:01

Bugatti at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2) - Stories of victors

Eighty years ago, Bugatti won the first of its two victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The marque's history at Le Mans was punctuated by several big personalities who are members of the 24 Hours hall of fame and who made their marks on World War II.
Bugatti at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2) - Stories of victors

Bugatti and its winners, a French tale - Jean-Pierre Wimille (1937-39), Robert Benoist (1937) and Pierre Veyron (1939) won Bugatti's two victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1994, the driver line-up of the EB110 at the start included Eric Helary, the winner the year before with Peugeot at his first participation. For this win, his teammates were fellow countryman Christophe Bouchut and Australian driver Geoff Brabham.

Robert Benoist, winner and Allied fighter - Winner at the 1937 24 Hours and also at all the Grand Prix of the 1927 season, Robert Benoist (1895-1944) was one of the very best French drivers between the two world wars. When World War II broke out, he decided to join the Allies in London with the SOE, the service secret created by Winston Churchill. Captured on June 18, 1944, Robert Benoist was hanged at the Buchenwald concentration camp on September 10th.

Jean-Pierre Wimille, winner, Allied fighter and...inventor - The two-time winner at the 24 Hours with Bugatti is the only driver to have evaded capture on June 18, 1944, via Chestnut which included Robert Benoist. In 1948, he decided to design a car of his own. Four were built and included the unique feature of three front seats with the driving position front and center. This design was chosen nearly 40 years later by South-African engineer Gordon Murray for the McLaren F1 GTR, winner at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Click here for more on Bugatti's history at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Photo: With the 57G, nicknamed "the tank" for its rounded yet aggressive lines, in 1937 Bugatti won the first of its two victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with at the wheel Robert Benoist and Jean-Pierre Wimille.