CONSTRUCTORS: LARROUSSE

Name: Larrousse

Former racing driver and Renault Sport boss Gerard Larrousse and a well-connected friend Didier Calmels decided to establish their own F1 team in 1987. The Larrousse-Calmels team was based in Antony in the southern suburbs of Paris. They commissioned a car from Lola and the result was the Eric Broadley/Ralph Bellamy-designed LC87, which was powered by a Cosworth DFZ V8 engine. It was entered in the undersubscribed normally-aspirated class.

The team started out with just one car for Philippe Alliot and Yannick Dalmas joined the team in a second car the end of the year. By that time the team had agreed a three-year deal with Lola and Chris Murphy was recruited from Zakspeed to help Bellamy. The team then did a deal to run Lamborghini V12 engines in 1989.

In September 1988 the team hired top French engineer Gerard Ducarouge but in the spring of 1989 there was disaster when Calmels was arrested for shooting his wife. He was later jailed for seven years. As a result the team became known as Larrousse.

For the 1989 season Alliot stayed on but Dalmas, who had been ill with Legionnaires Disease, was dropped and replaced by Eric Bernard and then by Michele Alboreto. At the end of the year 50% of the shares were sold to the Espo Corporation in Japan and Aguri Suzuki was hired to partner Bernard for the 1990 season. At the same time the team moved from Antony to new premises at Signes, near Paul Ricard.

It was a successful season with Suzuki scoring the team's first podium at the Japanese GP and the team finishing sixth in the Constructors' Championship. Then things began to go wrong with Lamborghini announcing it was switching to Ligier and the FIA taking away Larrousse's points because of a "false declaration" about the design of the chassis.

The team did an engine deal for 1991 with Brian Hart but early in the year Espo withdrew and the team struggled financially. In July the team sought protection from creditors with a French court. Japanese company Central Park bought into the team but soon afterwards Ducarouge left. Merger talks with AGS failed and the relationships with Lola and Hart were both ended without payment being made by Larrousse.

In the autumn of 1991 Gerard Larrousse did a deal with Robin Herd of Fomet 1 for the construction of an F1 chassis and 65% of the team was sold to the Venturi car company. A new Lamborghini engine deal was agreed and Bertrand Gachot was signed alongside Ukyo Katayama. Gachot scored the team's only point with sixth place at Monaco.

In September 1992 Venturi sold its shareholding to a group called Comstock, headed by German Rainer Walldorf. He turned out to be on the run from the law and was later killed in a gun battle with German police.

The team made a big loss in 1993 when Gerard Larrousse funded drivers Alliot and Erik Comas but in 1994 Larrousse reorganized the team again. Having failed to get Peugeot engines he signed a deal with Ford and brought in new partners in Swiss-based Fast Group SA, an organization headed by Ferrari dealer Michel Golay and former F1 racer Patrick Tambay. Sponsorship was found from the vast Danone group and the cars ran in Tourtel colors with Comas and Olivier Beretta driving. As the money ran short, however, pay-drivers replaced them, including Hideki Noda and Jean-Denis Deletraz.

At the end of the year Gerard Larrousse fell out with Robin Herd and cars for 1995 were not built. There were attempts to merge the team with DAMS and with an operation called Junior Team - headed by Laurent Barlesi and Jean Messaoudi with backing from Petronas - but in April 1995 the team finally folded with lawsuits flying in all directions.

Larrousse went on to reinvent the company to run sportscars but without success.

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