Video - Le Mans - 1955 - Race report


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Le Mans - 1955 - Race report

The 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans began on 11 June 1955, with Pierre Levegh behind the wheel of the #20 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR run by Daimler-Benz. American John Fitch was Levegh's assigned partner in the car, and he would take over driving duties later. Competition between Mercedes, Jaguar, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Maserati was close, with all the marques fighting for the top positions early on. The race was extremely fast, with lap records being repeatedly broken.[1] At the end of Lap 35, Levegh was following Mike Hawthorn's leading Jaguar D-type, just as they were entering the pit straight. Hawthorn had just passed Lance Macklin's slower Austin-Healey 100 when he belatedly noticed a pit signal to stop for fuel. Hawthorn slowed suddenly in an effort to stop rather than make another lap. Hawthorn's Jaguar, with the new disc brakes, slowed much more quickly than other cars using drum brakes, such as Levegh's Mercedes. The sudden, unexpected braking by Hawthorn caused Macklin in the Healey to hit his brakes, throwing up a small cloud of dust in front of Levegh, who trailed close behind. Macklin then swerved across the centre of the track, attempting to re-pass the slowing Jaguar, but also apparently out of control.[1] Macklin had not noticed both Levegh and Juan Manuel Fangio, in another 300 SLR, approaching rapidly from behind. Fangio was in second place at the time, but directly behind, and attempting to lap Levegh. Levegh, ahead of Fangio on the track, did not have time to ...

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