Alain de Cadenet is a British former racing driver, a constructor of race cars and team owner, collector of classic cars and most recently a TV presenter. He is most known as a constructor of sports prototypes which he was racing at Le Mans and other endurance events.
His most notable result was the third place overall at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1976, together with Chris Craft in a De Cadenet-Lola T380. In 1980, sharing a car with Desire Wilson, he won two races in the World Sportscar Championship.
Alain de Cadenet
Starting a career in a Porsche and Ferrari
Born in November 1945 in London, as a son of a lieutenant in the French Air Force and his British wife, Alain de Cadenet started his racing career in the late 1960s, driving a Porsche 904 GTS in national sports car events.
He also raced in a Ferrari Dino 206S, making an international debut with that car at Monza 1000 Kilometers. In July 1969, he scored the first international victory, taking a class win at Vila Real 6 Hours in a Ferrari Dino 206S.
Alain de Cadenet was active in racing until 1986
Fifth place at 1971 Daytona 24h, DNF in a debut at Le Mans
His next car was a Porsche 908/2, in which he raced at Daytona 24 Hours in February 1970, not finishing the race. Over the next period, De Cadenet raced in a Porsche 911 T, Ford GT40, Lola T210 or Ferrari 312 P. He finished fifth overall at 1971 Daytona 24 Hours in a Ferrari 312 P of North American Racing Team.
In June 1971, De Cadenet made a debut at 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing the #9 Ecurie Francorchamps Ferrari 512 M with Baron Hughes de Fierlant. They didn't finish the race, stopping after 18 hours.
Two Le Mans starts in a Duckhams-Cosworth prototype
A year later, Alain de Cadenet decided to return to Le Mans with his own-built car. He employed Brabham designer Gordon Murray to build a car around the Cosworth DFV engine and Brabham BT33 suspension. Sponsored by Duckhams Oil, the car was named Duckhams LM72.
He was sharing the #68 car with Chris Craft, finishing 12th overall and fifth in S3.0 class. In 1973, they were back in the same car with a redesigned body, carrying the number 5 and not finishing the race.
Using a Lola chassis from 1974
For the 1974 Le Mans race, De Cadenet made a prototype on a Lola chassis, still using a Cosworth engine. He wasn't driving by himself, giving a car to Chris Craft and John Nicholson. They retired after an accident.
De Cadenet returned to Le Mans as a racer in 1975, sharing the #4 De Cadenet Lola T380-Cosworth with Chris Craft. They were 14th overall and fifth in S3.0 class.
Alain de Cadenet and Chris Craft reached Le Mans podium in the #12 De Cadenet Lola T380
Overall podium for De Cadenet, Craft at 1976 Le Mans race
Next year, in June 1976, Alain Cadenet scored his career-best result at Le Mans race. Sharing the #12 De Cadenet Lola T380-Cosworth with Chris Craft, he finished the race in the third place, twelve laps behind Jacky Ickx and Gijs van Lennep in a Porsche 936 and just one lap behind Jean-Louis Lafosse and Francois Migault in a Mirage M8.
One more good result for duo De Cadenet/Craft followed at 1977 Le Mans race when they finished fifth overall in a De Cadenet Lola-Cosworth. In the same year, a duo participated at Spa 24 Hours in a Ford Capri II 3.0S, not finishing the race.
Alain de Cadenet and Chris Craft recorded their last Le Mans attempt together in 1978, finishing in the 15th place. That year, De Cadenet spent a season in the Can-Am Challenge, driving a Mirage GR7 or De Cadenet Lola but without notable results.
Alain de Cadenet and Desire Wilson triumphed at 1980 Silverstone 6 Hours in the #8 De Cadenet Lola LM
Two World Championship wins in 1980
De Cadenet's partner in the next two Le Mans attempts, in 1979 and 1980, was Francois Migault. They were sharing Cosworth-powered De Cadenet Lola prototypes, recording DNF in 1979 and finishing seventh overall in 1980.
Outside Le Mans, De Cadenet gained some success in World Championship races. In May 1979, he and Migault finished second at Silverstone 6 Hours. In 1980, De Cadenet and Desire Wilson scored two wins in the World Sportscar Championship, at Monza 1000 Kilometers and Silverstone 6 Hours, both in a De Cadenet Lola prototype.
Alain de Cadenet holds the winner's trophy at Monza
Five more starts at Le Mans between 1981 and 1986
Alain de Cadenet recorded five more starts at Le Mans between 1981 and 1986. In four races, he didn't reach the finish line. Except for his Lola-Cosworth prototype, he was driving a variety of other prototypes in that period, such are Grid Plaza S1, Cougar C01B, Porsche 956B or Cougar C12.
His co-drivers in that period were Jean-Michel Martin and Philippe Martin (1981), Desire Wilson and Emilio de Villota (1982), Yves Courage and Michel Dubois (1983), Chris Craft and Allan Grice (1985), Yves Courage and Pierre-Henri Raphanel (1986).
Alain de Cadenet is still very active in historic racing events