Fifty years ago on June 11, 1967, A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney established the first 5,000+ km distance record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The subsequent half century has provided a plethora of unique stories, stats and anecdotes. Here are 10 that stand out among them.
- Twenty multiple winners have won at least once while surpassing 5,000 kilometers in the race: Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard, Frank Biela, Dindo Capello, Romain Dumas, Marcel Fässler, Hurley Haywood, Al Holbert, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Tom Kristensen, JJ Lehto, André Lotterer, Klaus Ludwig, Allan McNish, Emanuele Pirro, Manuel Reuter, Guy Smith, Benoît Tréluyer, Marco Werner and Alex Wurz. They count 61 victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans among them.
- Three drivers have clinched their wins at the 24 Hours (two each) while exceeding 5,000 kilometers: Timo Bernhard (2010-2017), Romain Dumas (2010-2016) and Earl Bamber (2015-2017).
- In 2005, Tom Kristensen became the new win record-holder at Le Mans with a seventh triumph. In nine victories, the Dane passed the 5,000-kilometer mark six times (in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008).
- Among the three manufacturers to have held the distance record, Porsche and Audi are the two winningest marques, with 19 and 13 victories respectively, while Ford is the first American manufacturer in history to win at the 24 Hours.
- In 1978, thanks to Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi, Renault-Alpine became the first French constructor to surpass 5,000 kilometers, thereafter joined by Peugeot in 1993 and 2009.
- In 1983, the winning Porsche 956 driven by Vern Schuppan, Hurley Haywood and Al Holbert limped across the finish line with a worrisome plume of smoke billowing from its right exhaust...this after a lost door was replaced in the final hours of the race!
- In 1988, Jaguar won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time since 1957 and the British marque went on to win a seventh victory in 1990.
- In 2003, Bentley won again for the first time since 1930, establishing as a result a very special record: the longest time frame between two victories at the 24 Hours of Mans (73 years)!
- In 2009, Marc Gené became the first, and sole to-date, Spanish driver to win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He shared the wheel of the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP with Austrian driver Alex Wurz and the Australian David Brabham.
- Sixteen years apart, the Brabham brothers - Geoff in 1993 and David in 2009 - won their only victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans while exceeding 5,000 kilometers...with the same French marque, Peugeot.
In anticiptation of the fifth and final installment of this series, click below to learn more about the distance records set at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (full of list of the 23 driver line-ups to have reached and surpassed the 5,000-kilometer cap is included in the second article):
PHOTO (Copyright - Archives/ACO): In 13 victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi has reached the 5,000-kilometer cap 10 times - not least of which at its very first win in 2000, pictured here - including the current distance record set in 2010 by Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller (5,420 km). No other manufacturer has reached such a ratio, not even Porsche (six out of 19) who holds the win record.