JAGUAR RETURNS TO LE MANS FOR 75TH ANNIVERSARY
Jaguar returns to the starting grid at Le Mans on June 12 with the XKR GT2 sports car in the world's leading endurance racers.
As Jaguar celebrates its 75th anniversary of building and racing cars, it is fitting that the British marque returns to competition at the circuit where it earned seven race wins between 1951 and 1990.
The XKR GT2 racer competing at Le Mans is being run by JaguarRSR, and shares many of the basic components and technologies with the road-going XKR.
Jointly developed by Jaguar's engineering and design groups and the RSR team, the racer features the road car's lightweight aluminum body structure and a tuned version of its 5.0-liter supercharged AJ133 V8 engine developing in excess of 500hp.
Drivers Marc Goossens, Ryan Dalziel and Paul Gentilozzi will be piloting the car during the 24-hour race, having gained experience in the American Le Mans Series earlier this year.
The names of Jaguar and Le Mans are inextricably linked. With a total of seven wins between 1951 and 1990, the marque is the single most successful British car maker in the history of the race.
During the 1950s, Jaguar's founder Sir William Lyons sought to prove his cars were as fast and strong as more expensive rivals, with legends such as Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn behind the wheel of the iconic C-type and D-type racers.
In 1951, the C-type won Le Mans at its first attempt, with a further victory in 1953. Its successor the D-type took Le Mans wins in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Technical innovations such as the C-type's disc brakes made their debut on Jaguars at Le Mans, and were rapidly adopted by car makers the world over.
After a two-decade absence, Jaguar returned to France with a works team in the late 1980s and once again took race wins in 1988, with the V12-powered XJR-9LM Group C car, and in 1990, with the XJR-12, featuring drivers including Johnny Dumfries and Martin Brundle. Such was the success of the XJR racers, that Jaguar was crowned World Sports Car Champions three times in five seasons.
In the spring of 2009, Paul Gentilozzi and his sons, Tony and John, founded RSR in partnership with Jaguar Cars to build and race the Jaguar XKR in the American Le Mans Series GT2 class.
Gentilozzi's relationship with Jaguar dates back to 2000 when he built and raced Jaguar XKRs in the North American Trans-Am Series. In their tenure together, 66 starts were made, 31 of those resulted in wins with an additional four victories by chassis/customer cars. This led to five Manufacturers' and five Drivers' Championships from 2000-2006, with Paul Gentilozzi, Scott Pruett and Klaus Graf. The Jaguar XKR was also entered in the 24 Hours of Daytona, where it earned the pole and win in the GTS Class (2002).
Jaguar's Wins at Le Mans 24-Hours
|1951||C-type||Peter Walker,||First Jaguar win; 2244 miles, 93mph|
|1953||C-type||Tony Rolt, Duncan||2540 miles, 106mph|
|1955||D-type||Mike Hawthorn||2570 miles, 107mph|
|1956||D-type||Ron Flockhart,||Ecurie Ecosse entry; 2507 miles, 104mph|
|1957||D-type||Ron Flockhart,||Ecurie Ecosse entry; 2732 miles, 114mph|
|1988||XJR-9LM||Jan Lammers||TWR Jaguar Sport entry; 394 laps, 3313 miles, 138mph|
|1990||XJR-12||John Nielsen||TWR Jaguar Sport entry; 359 laps, 3034 miles, 127mph|