The world of motorsport is in mourning following the death of Swiss former driver Claude Haldi at the age of 75. He made 22 appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1968 and 1993.
Claude Haldi was born on 28 November 1942 in Lausanne, Switzerland. After studying to be a boilermaker, he turned to motorsport, embracing a number of disciplines. He started out in hill climbs and became European champion in 1970 in a Porsche 911S. The seventies saw Haldi compete in rallies, culminating in the Swiss championship title in 1979. Meanwhile, he embarked on a career in endurance, winning the GT class title at the 1000 kilometres of Spa-Francorchamps in 1984, fifteen years after finishing in the runner-up spot at the 24 Hours of Spa.
His name was, however, particularly associated with the 24 Hours of Le Mans where he became a member of the elite club making more than twenty appearances in the race, finishing five times. He made his Le Mans début in 1968, partnering Jacques Rey in a Ferrari 275 GTB4 (DNF). After seven successive retirements, he took the chequered flag for the first time in 1975 when a Porsche Carrera Turbo (#20) took Bernard Béguin, Peter Zbinden and Haldi to the GTX class title.
Throughout his Le Mans career, Haldi was mainly to be found at the wheel of a Porsche (908, 911, 930, 934, 935) but two cars, in particular, remained etched in the memory of the fans present. Firstly, the works Porsche 961 (#203) with René Metge and Kees Nierop (DNF) in 1987, and then the WM P88 (#51) the following year, in which Roger Dorchy topped the mind-blowing speed of 405 kph on the Mulsanne Straight. That was to be Haldi’s third and final Le Mans with the French manufacturer WM.
Five years later, he made his final bow at the Circuit de la Sarthe in a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR entered by Scuderia Chicco D’Oro with Olivier Haberthur and Charles Margueron. The Swiss trio finished 18th overall.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest extends its most sincere condolences to Claude Haldi’s wife, family and loved ones.
Photo: Claude Haldi drove the #51 WM P88 in 1988.