24h Le Mans
28/07/2017 12:01

The 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans, a look back at the 24th edition

In 1956, the 24 Hours of Le Mans was held during the month of July, the one and only time in its history. Here is a retrospective of that edition won by Jaguar, including the birth that year of two future drivers who would go on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans three decades later...with Jaguar.

The 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans, a look back at the 24th edition

In 1956, the 24 Hours of Le Mans took place Saturday, July 28th and Sunday, July 29th. In the wake of the tragedy of June 11, 1955, construction work was undertaken at the heart of the 24 Hours curcuit, which explains the delay.   


Jaguar triumphs - Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson gave the Jaguar Type D the second of its three consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After 1951, 1953 and 1955, it was the British manufacturer's fourth victory. Three more would follow in 1957, 1988 and 1990. Two other Jaguar Type Ds finished in the top 10, driven by Belgian drivers Jacques Swaters-Freddy Rousselle (fourth) and Mike Hawthorn-Ivor Bueb (sixth), the winners in 1955.

Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson, a win and a one-two - In six participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ron Flockhart only made it to the checkered flag twice...both times claiming the top step on the podium! In 1957, he scored a second consecutive victory along with Ivor Bueb, still with a Jaguar Type D. That year, his former teammate Ninian Sanderson (nine participations in the 24 Hours of Le Mans) finished second along with John Lawrence.

Olivier Gendebien, a double first - After having debuted at Le Mans the previous year at the wheel of a Porsche 550 RS (fifth), in 1956 Belgian driver Olivier Gendebien competed in his first 24 Hours at the wheel of a Ferrari. Along with French driver and 1954 winner Maurice Trintignant, he reached his first podium finish in third place. Thereafter, he set with four victories (1958, 1960, 1961 and 1962) a win record that would go unbeaten until his fellow countryman Jacky Ickx did so in 1977.

Jaguar from 1956 to 1990, a second generation of drivers - Two future Le Mans winners came into the world in 1956. Born on June 2nd and February 7th respectively, Dutch driver Jan Lammers and the Dane John Nielsen won their sole victory at the 24 Hours at the wheel of a Jaguar prototype: the first in 1988 along with Johnny Dumfries and Andy Wallace, the second two years later along with British driver Martin Brundle and the American Price Cobb. John Nielsen also won in the LMP2 class in 2009 at the wheel of a Porsche RS Spyder. At the age of 61, Jan Lammers took the start at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans, also in LMP2. With his fellow countryman Fritz van Eerd and former Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello, he finished 14th overall.


PHOTO (Copyright - Archives/ACO): In 1956, Jaguar's victory (pictured here is the Type D driven by winners Ron Flockhart and Ninian Sanderson) was a triumph for one of the most famous teams in the U.K. as well: the Ecurie Ecosse, who even achieved a one-two the following year thanks to Ivor Bueb-Ron Flockhart and Ninan Sanderson-John Lawrence.

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