Gerard Larrousse

From Lyons, Larrousse studied business management at the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Paris but his plans were interrupted by a passion for rally driving and he competed enthusiastically in the early 1960s on the French national rallying scene. He decided to become a professional racer in 1966 and in 1969 was hired by the Porsche factory sportscar team. His major success with Porsche was victory in the 1971 Sebring 12 Hours, sharing a 917 with Vic Elford. That year he also won the Tour de France, driving a Matra MS660. He was a Ford factory driver in touring cars in 1972 but in 1973 he moved to Matra Sports and began a successful relationship which resulted in two Le Mans 24 Hours victories and success in the World Championship of Makes. After Matra Sports closed down he moved to Alpine in 1975, sharing victory at Mugello with Jean-Pierre Jabouille. That year he established the Elf Switzerland Formula 2 team and, with Jabouille driving, won the European F2 Championship.At the end of 1976 Larrousse was appointed competition manager of the new Renault Sport - which was formed by a merger of Alpine and Renault-Gordini and he masterminded the company's entry into Formula 1 racing, its victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours and victory on the Monte Carlo Rally. Over nine seasons the Renault Sport Formula 1 team won 15 Grands Prix but failed to win the World Championship and at the end of 1985 it was closed down. Larrousse went to work with the Ligier team for a year and then set up his own Larrousse Formula 1 team in partnership with Didier Calmels. They organized a deal for chassis with Lola Cars and the team entered F1 in the normally-aspirated class in 1987. They achieved brief success with Lamborghini engines in 1990 but financial troubles were a constant problem and Larrousse had a string of unsuccessful partnerships in the early 1990s before the team was forced to give up F1 in 1995 because it could not pay for its chassis.Larrousse continued to run sportscar teams but without much success.