Jacky Ickx at the wheel of the badly smoking Porsche 936 that he and Jürgen Barth drove to a hard-fought Le Mans victory in 1977.
Photo: Ed McDonough
There is no question that the greatest race for me was winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1977 with Jacky Ickx and Hurley Haywood. There was the story of running from the back of the field, of all the problems we had, switching Ickx from his other car, going through the night without a rev counter and then having the engine start to break so we just managed to finish the last two laps after we had got past everybody. I really thought that we were not going to finish—never mind to win. There was smoke pouring out of the car for a long time.
That year Porsche had a low profile at Le Mans, especially compared to Renault, which had many cars with great drivers. We just had the two 936s and the 935, and two of those were out in only a few hours. I started with Haywood and we had a fuel injection problem that cost us 20 minutes, so naturally we lost a lot of ground. After Pescarolo retired the other 936, it was all Alpine-Renaults at the front. Then, we had another disaster and lost the head gasket. That took 30 minutes to change, so really we were 15 laps—over an hour—behind! That was when they put Jacky in the car and told him to drive as fast as he could. He was taking 10 seconds a lap from the leaders, but really we had no hope to catch them. He got the car back up to 6th in his three hours at the wheel, but the Alpines were still in front 1-2-3. I remember that Hurley and I saw how quickly the car could go, so we were much faster after Jacky had driven.
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