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Thread: The 1975 Le Mans wining Gulf Mirage and its immediate predecessors ...

  1. #1
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    The 1975 Le Mans wining Gulf Mirage and its immediate predecessors ...

    One of the most prolific paint-scheme in sports-car racing is the powder blue and orange courtesy of Gulf Oil. From the second half of the 1960 Gulf backed the John Wyer operated team, which scored back to back Le Mans victories with their cleverly modified GT40s in 1968 and 1969. For the next two years Wyer fielded the legendary Gulf liveried 917s, which were among the quickest but suffered from incredibly bad luck. Rule changes rendered the 917 obsolete at the end of 1971 and with no immediate replacement available, Wyer decided to once more field a car of his own design.
    Powered by an F1-derived, Cosworth V8 engine, the first of these purpose-built racers was the Mirage M6. Piloted by the likes of Derek Bell, Gijs van Lennep and Mike Hailwood, the elegant sports prototypes showed great pace but were often let down by poor reliability. The V8 engine had not originally been designed for endurance racing and also had the tendency to vibrate the rest of the car to pieces. During the 1973 season, Bell and Hailwood were able to convert a perfect run in this M6 into victory in the Spa 1000 km against the Matra, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo Works teams. Increased backing from Gulf resulted in the rebadging of the upgraded 1974 cars to GR7. Although continuously improved, the Mirages were still far from bullet-proof. A fourth at Le Mans was a rare highlight that year.
    For 1975 the mission was clear; a victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After Matra's withdrawal, the competition was not quite as strong, so opportunity loomed. Wyer's men built two brand new GR8 chassis, which featured much smoother bodywork specifically for the high-speed Le Mans track. More importantly, the Cosworth engine was retuned to produce just 375 bhp compared to the 445 bhp that was on tap in the earlier seasons. It paid off as the cars finished first and third, scoring the fourth win at Le Mans for John Wyer.
    Although Aston Martin Racing had a good run last year, no Gulf backed machines have been able to match the success of the Mirages since.

    Enjoy the links:

    1975 Mirage GR8 Cosworth - Images, Specifications and Information

    1974 Mirage GR7 Cosworth - Images, Specifications and Information

    1972 - 1973 Mirage M6 Cosworth - Images, Specifications and Information
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  2. #2
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    Thanks for the great articles!
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  3. #3
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    some bonus shots, first three showing Derek Bell in the GR7, second Bell and owner Marc Devis, third, Devis leaving the Silverstone assembly area.

    Fourth, Cliff McAllister's M6 next to his other weapon of choice, the M8F, and two of M6 on track, at Laguna Seca.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting, but it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously." Douglas Adams

  4. #4
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    Holly Moly!
    What an update!
    Good work Wouter, and your bonus shots are always appreciated Henk!

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