Initially, Jean-Pierre Jabouille made his mark in France’s national Formula Three racing in 1968. Not only did he race, but he also maintained his own car and earned enough money to move continually forward to the next meetings. At the time, a certain François Cevert was dominating the French F3 scene. Alpine offered Jabouille a berth for the 1969 season as teammate to Patrick Depailler and he stayed with the team for some years, supported by the involvement of Elf oil and their marketing guru François Guiter. His climb up to Grand Prix racing started in 1974 when he failed to qualify a Williams FW01 for the French GP at Dijon, and a Surtees TS16 at the Österreichring for the Austrian GP. He turned to Formula Two, designing and developing his own car in the Elf team managed by Jean Sage. He went on to win the F2 title in 1976. Jabouille would ultimately make his name with the successful development and racing of the Renault turbo engine, at Le Mans and also in the F1 car—debuting at Silverstone almost 40 years ago, at the 1977 British GP. Award-winning VR contributor Roy Smith recently talked to Jabouille about that time of his career, the successes and failures of developing that sometimes difficult, but eventually effective, turbo engine. This is a small part of that interview.
Do you have good memories of the first time, at the Canard, Michelin’s private circuit for tire testing at Clermont-Ferrand?
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