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Old 05-31-2010, 07:01 AM
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Wouter Melissen Wouter Melissen is offline
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2010 Le Mans: the 1980 winning Rondeau in great detail ...

Today we start our coverage of one of the racing highlights of the season; the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The start is planned for 3 pm on Saturday, June 12th and for the coming days we have prepared several features to get you properly warmed up for the legendary twice round the clock race. We kick off with a close look at the winner of the 1980; the Rondeau M379 Cosworth. The 30th anniversary of the victory will also be celebrated at Le Mans with a parade of almost all surviving Rondeaus on the Le Mans track ahead of the start of the 24 Hours. The cars will also return to the track a month later during the Le Mans Classic.
Having started with the Inaltera back in 1976, Jean Rondeau's win was several years in the making. He gradually developed the same design with a tiny budget. Despite never being tested, the cars were immediately reliable, scoring GTP class wins at almost every attempt. The small team's rare shot at victory came in 1979 and again in 1980 due to the absence of factory prototypes. Having failed the first time round, Jean Rondeau piloted his Rondeau M379 Cosworth to victory a year later together with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud. In doing so, Rondeau became the first and to this date only man to win the epic event in a car of his own design. Two years later Rondeau came achingly close to winning the World Championship with the interim M382 Cosworth. Soon after, the return of Porsche and other manufacturers raised the bar too high for the small team, which was forced to close its doors in 1984. Sadly, Jean Rondeau was killed in a freak accident on a rail-road crossing a year later.
Rondeau's achievements are stuff of legends and inspired the likes of Yves Courage and Henri Pescarolo to race cars of their own making. Since 1980 no independently designed and developed car has won at Le Mans and that is not likely to change in 2010.

Enjoy the links:

1982 Rondeau M382 Cosworth - Images, Specifications and Information

1979 - 1981 Rondeau M379 Cosworth - Images, Specifications and Information
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Old 05-31-2010, 10:04 PM
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Chernaudi Chernaudi is offline
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In deed sadly, unless one incrediably rich person is behind it, such a feat will never happen again. Granted, Rondeau was helped to a degree by a downturn in factory interest in sportscar racing. But this proves that Le Mans is Le Mans, and he almost stole the manufacturers' championship away from Porsche in '82 and forced Porsche to revive the stillborn 2.65 liter Indy Boxer 6 for the last generation 936 and later the Porsche 956 and early 962. That basic engine was dervied from the 2.14 liter Porsche 911 Carrera RSR engine that nearly won Le Mans in such a 911 in 1974, and powered every Porsche prototype until the 3.4 V8 powered RS Spyder.

Imagine, the Porsche 956/962, and perhaps Group C itself as we all know it, may not exhist without these cars, as they were also(like the WM Peugeots) were coupes. Oddly, these cars are now about 30 years old, and Grand Am Daytona Prototypes are only slighty more advanced(tube frame chassis, simple areo) and look uglier than the Rondeaus, save the 482, of course, and that still looks better than DPs.

I guess that Porsche in '82 couldn't stand having a squad of cars built in a Le Mans, France native's backyard beat them in a major championship.
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Old 06-01-2010, 12:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chernaudi View Post
In deed sadly, unless one incrediably rich person is behind it, such a feat will never happen again.
You have to admit that Rondeau's victory in many ways was an exception. Perhaps only the 1975 Mirage win was comparable but that was run by an operation that had already won Le Mans three times before.
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:57 AM
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JWA also has the support of Gulf Oil as a major sponsor. Rondeau until 1981(after his LM win the previous year) had limited backing from local sponsors. Even the "privateer" Joest team at Le Mans in 1980 had Martini and Rossi backing, as well as the fact that the Joest Porsche was dubbed a "908/80", and was in reality a thinly disgused 936(in fact, Joest converted that car into a Group C GTP car, and was badged as a 936C).

Otis(which I believe built elevators for buildings and factories) sponsored Rondeau in '81 at Le Mans and in '82 for the WSC. From what I heard, Otis was so PO'd at the FIA over the Porsche Nurbergring deal(where a private 911's points were added to the teams total) that Otis left as a sponsor. After that, Rondeau didn't have the money, as Ford had just gotten back into racing in 1982(after a 10 year pullout save for the backdoor stuff they did with Cosworth), and after their C100 proved to be less successful than hoped for, they turned back to their NASCAR, F1 and Indy Car commitments(the latter two with Cosworth).

Ironically, the Ford Cosworth F1 V8, and Indy Car V8 shared the same block and other components with the Rondeaus' 3.0/3.3/3.9 liter engines. Maybe the M382 would've been a bigger theat to the 956's if Ford gave them a twin-turbo version of the 2.65 Cosworth Indy Car V8(that's where the Porsche 956's 2.65 boxer 6 came from-a stillborn Indy Car engine).
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