This year Jaguar will return to the 24 hours race of Le Mans to mark their 75th anniversary. The British company actually has a great history in Le Mans, as they won seven races between 1950 to 1990. This year they are going to use a XKR GT2 racing car developed by Jaguar and RSR team, featuring a 5.0-litre supercharged AJ133 V8 engine with over 500 hp.
This car is also racing at ALMS ans other endurance series and will be driven at Le Man by Marc Goossens, Ryan Dalziel and Paul Gentilozzi. Belgian driver Goossens is vastly experienced in sportscar racing, and has competed at Le Mans on nine previous occasions. Dalziel, born in Scotland, brings extensive experience in single-seaters and sportscars, but is racing at Le Mans for the first time, and American Paul Gentilozzi, one of the principal partners of the JaguarRSR team, is making his third appearance at Le Mans in the GT2 class.
Mike O’Driscoll, Managing Director of Jaguar Cars said, “Motorsport has always been important to Jaguar. Our domination of Le Mans in the 1950s was a foundation stone in our history and our success in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s reinforced our reputation as one of the great sports car manufacturers. “As we look to the future with our new range of high performance ‘R’-branded cars – the XKR and XFR – we aim to make the Jaguar brand synonymous with motorsports once again. It’s good to be back”
Jaguar Heritage at Le Mans
The names of Jaguar and Le Mans are inextricably linked. With a total of seven wins between 1951 and 1990, the marque is the single most successful British car maker in the history of the race.
During the 1950s, Jaguar’s founder Sir William Lyons sought to prove his cars were as fast and as strong as far more expensive rivals, with legends such as Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn behind the wheel of the iconic C-type and D-type racers.
In 1951, the C-type won Le Mans at its first attempt, with a further victory in 1953. Its successor the D-type took Le Mans wins in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Technical innovations such as the C-type’s disc brakes made their debut on Jaguars at Le Mans, and were rapidly adopted by car makers the world over.
After a two-decade absence, Jaguar returned to France with a works team in the late 1980s and once again took race wins in 1988, with the V12-powered XJR-9LM Group C car, and in 1990, with the XJR-12, featuring drivers including Johnny Dumfries and Martin Brundle. Such was the success of the XJR racers, that Jaguar was crowned World Sports Car Champions three times in five seasons.