Georges Martin

Born in 1930 in a small town near Fontainebleau, just outside Paris, Martin had to wait until the war was over before being able to attend the famous Lycee Henri IV in Paris. He went on to study engineering at the Ecole des Travaux Publics and graduated in 1957. It was then necessary for him to do National Service and so he did not return to civilian life until 1959 when he joined the Simca car company at Argenteuil. Starting out in quality control he had the chance to move to the engine testing division in 1961 and a couple of years later he became head of the department when the company came under Chrysler ownership. He remained in that role until November 1966 when he was asked by Jean-Luc Lagardere to become the technical director of Matra's Competition Department, despite the fact that he had no experience in motorsport at all. At the time Matra was running cars in Formula 2, Formula 3 and sports-prototypes but was using Ford and BRM engines. Lagardere then asked him to design a three-litre V12 engine which could be used in Formula 1 and sports car racing. He built up a team of engine designers at Velizy and the engine was tested on the dynos for the first time at the end of 1967. It made its F1 debut at Monaco in 1968 and the same day ran in a 1000km sports car race at Spa, in preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours. At the Dutch GP in wet conditions Jean-Pierre Beltoise finished second using the Matra engine. In 1969 the company decided to run the engine only in sports car races and Jean-Pierre Beltoise/Piers Courage finished fourth at Le Mans and at the end of the year Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo won the Paris 1000 at Montlhery. The V12 returned to F1 in 1970 with Beltoise and Pescarolo driving for the Equipe Matra-Simca but the best results were third places on three occasions. In sports cars Beltoise and Pescarolo won the Buenos Aires 1000 and later in the year Beltoise joined forces with Patrick Depailler and Jean Todt to win the Tour de France. For the 1971 season Beltoise was joined in F1 by Chris Amon but the only victory was a non-championship race in Argentina. The only other success that year was the Tour de France which saw Gerard Larrousse sharing victory with Johnny Rives. In 1972 the F1 effort was not impressive but Matra's Le Mans challenge resulted in a 1-2 for Pescarolo and Graham Hill with Francois Cevert and Howden Ganley second. At the end of the year Matra left F1 and in 1973 and 1974 the Matra sports cars were dominant, winning the Constructors' Championship twice and Larrrousse and Pescarolo won two Le Mans 24 Hours victories. At the end of 1974 Matra withdrew from competition. The V12 were supplied briefly to Shadow in the autumn of 1975 but then returned to F1 with the new Ligier team in 1976. The new version of the engine powered Jacques Laffite to victory in Sweden in 1977. At the end of 1978 Matra withdrew once again but when Talbot took over Ligier in 1980 the old Matra V12 was revived and raced in 1981 and 1982. A new V6 turbo engine was designed by Martin and his team but the project fell foul of a split between Matra and Peugeot. There were negotiations for Williams to use the engine but the team decided to do a deal with Honda instead and Matra faded from the F1 scene.