Presents the rare Inaltera GTP Cosworth, built by local French race car driver and constructor, Jean Rondeau. Rondeau who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1980, in a car bearing his own name, an achievement which remains unique in the history of Le Mans.
And with the Le Mans Classic races this weekend, I found it appropriated to suggest this car, the beginning of a French legend, Jean Rondeau.
This car will be also race during the Le Mans Classic 2014.
Literally around the corner at the Le Mans circuit plans were in the making to enter a French machine the following edition (1976). Rondeau's factory, similarly to those of Courage and Henri Pescarolo, was based near Le Mans. There were in fact two incentives, one headed by former racer Jean Rondeau and the other by Peugeot designer Gerard Welter.
Both projects were fairly similar in their desire to race a fixed-head Group 6 GTP car powered by the PRV (Peugeot, Renault and Volvo) V6 engine. This 2.7 litre street car engine was obviously not as powerful as the F1 derived Cosworth, but it was French and for a variety of obvious reasons that was very important.
Rondeau's bold decision left him without the financial backing of the French companies Welter could count on, but he came up with an ingenious deal that would safeguard the future of the project. He signed a big sponsorship agreement with coloured paper producer Inaltera that included entering the cars branded as Inaltera. Rondeau's decision to switch to a British engine was already not very well received, but his sponsorship deal really got the French people talking. When the Inaltera team arrived at Le Mans in 1976, the major television station TF1 instructed their commentators to not mention the sponsor's and with it the car's name.
Completed literally in Rondeau's backyard, two cars were ready for the 1976 Le Mans. The arrival of the Turbocharged Porsche 936, basically left all Naturally Aspirated entrants with little chance for the overall glory. Although 44 laps down on the winning Porsche, the Henri Pescarolo and Jean-Pierre Beltoise driven Inaltera finished first in the GTP class. This feat was repeated the next year with a fourth place overall for the fastest of the three behind turbocharged machines. Later that year the Inaltera wallpaper company was sold and the racing team disbanded.
The three cars and all spares were sold to Heini Mader. Rondeau retained the drawings, which allowed him to build a new car under his own name. In 1980 a 'Rondeau' would win Le Mans. Retaining the engines, Mader sold the cars to three Swiss privateers. It was only at this time that the cars received chassis numbers and to complicate things the last car completed was numbered 1. Only the second car completed, numbered chassis 3, was raced again at Le Mans; it finished 13th overall and 2nd in class in 1978.
All three cars remained in Switzerland for many years. The owner of 'chassis 1' originally intended to convert his car to a road car. He refitted a Cosworth engine and painted the car in BMW colors as he ran the local BMW dealership. Since then the car has been completely restored to its original condition and colors but remains with the same owner. The other two cars were eventually acquired by the same person who completely restored them. The one raced by Jean Rondeau has since been sold to the French department of La Sarthe which annually hosts the Le Mans race.
Country of origin: France
Produced from: 1976 - 1977
Numbers built: 3
Configuration: Ford Cosworth DFV 90º V8
Location: Mid, longitudinally mounted
Weight: 168 kilo / 370.4 lbs
Construction: Aluminium block and head
Displacement: 2.993 liter / 182.6 cu in
Bore/Stroke: 85.7 mm (3.4 in) / 64.8 mm (2.6 in)
Valvetrain: 4 valves / cylinder, DOHC
Fuel feed: Lucas Fuel Injection
Aspiration: Naturally Aspirated
Power: 415 bhp / 310 KW @ 9000 rpm
BHP/Liter: 139 bhp / liter
Chassis: Fibreglass body on steel multi-tubular spaceframe with aluminium reinforcements
Front suspension: Double wishbones, coil springs over dampers
Rear suspension: Double wishbones, twin radius arms, coil springs over dampers
Brakes: Ventilated discs, all-round, rear inboard
Gearbox: Hewland LT 200 5 speed Manual
Drive: Rear wheel drive
Weight: 815 kilo / 1796.8 lbs
Wheelbase/Track (fr/r): 2490 mm (98 in) / 1445 mm (56.9 in) / 1480 mm (58.3 in)
Power to weight: 0.51 bhp / kg
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