Gijs Van Lennep
- March 16, 1942
- Not Active
- Martini Porsche,Surtees-Ford,Ensign-Ford,Iso Marlboro-Ford
Gijs van Lennep is a former Dutch racing driver, who competed in eight Formula One races between 1971 and 1975, but his greatest motorsport achievements were two overall victories at 24 Hours of Le Mans (in 1971 and 1976). In 1999, he was voted the best Dutch race car driver of the century.
The best driver among Dutch noblemen
Gijs van Lennep (full name Gijsbert) was born on March 16th, 1942, in Aerdenhout, Netherlands. He is a member of Dutch nobility with the title Jonkheer. Gijs started racing in 1964, but his first great race was 24 hours of Spa in 1965. He was driving BMW 1800 together with Hans Koster, but they didn't finish the race. Since the beginning of his racing career, Gijs competed under the banner of the Racing Team Holland.
In October 1965, he drove Porsche for the first time, winning the race at Zandvoort with Porsche 904 GTS. Throughout his career, he mostly drove Porsches and achieved all his best results with that brand.
In 1966 he entered World Sportscar Championship, still driving for Racing Team Holland. He scored two class victories at 1000 km of Spa and 1000 km of Nurburgring, driving Porsche 906 alongside his brother David van Lennep. Some other notable results were the victories at Donaupokal and Grand Prix de Paris, both with Porsche 906.
Gijs was driving all kinds of Porsches
He started season 1967 with 24 hours of Daytona, driving factory Porsche 906 alongside Rolf Stommelen and Udo Schutz. They retired due to an engine failure. Two months later, at 12 hours of Sebring, they retired again after an accident. At 1000 km of Spa, Gijs was planning to race with his Dutch fellow racer Ben Pon, but after an accident at the practice session, they didn't even start the race. He finally scored a good result at Trofeo Frescobaldi at Mugello, driving Porsche 911 R and winning the S2.0 class. His co-driver was Vic Elford.
In 1968, his new car was Porsche 910. Van Lennep and Ben Pon recorded two retirements in the World Sportscar Championship races at Brands Hatch and Monza. Sportscar racing results were not good, but he showed some good performances in the Formula 3 races. Despite that, sports cars and touring cars remained in his focus in 1969.
He was driving Porsche 911 both in the Dutch Touring Car Championship and European Touring Car Championship, finishing 2nd in his home country and 3rd in the European classification. In 1969 World Sportscar Championship, he was driving Abarth 2000S at Brands Hatch and Nurburgring and Alpine A220 at Spa.
First Le Mans attempt in 1970
In autumn of 1969, he debuted in Porsche 908 and scored the victory in the first event with that car, at the Trophy of the Dunes at Zandvoort. He used the same car in the 1970 World Sportscar Championship. Van Lennep and Hans Laine, driving for Racing Team AAW, recorded two DNFs at Daytona and Sebring, but after they returned to Europe, the results were better. They took the class win at Brands Hatch, finished 4th at Targa Florio and 5th at Spa-Francorchamps.
In 1970, Gijs van Lennep raced at 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time. He was partnered by David Piper in the AAW's Porsche 917K. They started 11th on the grid but retired after 112 laps due to the damaged car. He finished second in the 1970 Interserie championship, scoring one victory and four podiums in four races.
He finished second in the 1970 Interserie championship, scoring one victory and four podiums in four races. On July 11th, he competed with Martini Racing's Porsche 917 at 6 hours of Watkins Glen (WSC race) and one day later at the Can-Am races at the same track. He finished 9th and 6th respectively.
Le Mans victory with Porsche 917K
In January 1971, at 1000 km of Buenos Aires, Gijs drove for the first time with Helmut Marko. It was a beginning of the partnership which culminated with their victory at 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans. Van Lennep and Marko drove #22 Porsche 917 K of Martini International Racing Team. They completed 397 laps and set a new distance record of 5,335 km. That record was standing until 2010 when Joest Racing won the race with Audi R15 TDI.
Formula One debut at 1971 Dutch Grand Prix
One week after Le Mans victory, Van Lennep debuted in the Formula One championship at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. He drove Cosworth-powered Surtees TS7 entered by the Stichting Autoraces Nederland. He qualified 21st and finished 8th, five laps behind the winner Jacky Ickx.
F5000 champion in 1972
Earlier that year, in May, Gijs van Lennep finished second at 1971 Targa Florio, sharing the Alfa Romeo T33/3 with Andrea de Adamich. Some other notable results were 2nd place at 1000 km of Barcelona (with Derek Bell) and 2nd place at 6 hours of Watkins Glen (with Jo Siffert), both races driving Porsche 917K.
In 1972, Van Lennep won the Rothmans European Formula 5000 Championship driving a Surtees TS11 and a McLaren M18. His third attempt at 24 Hours of Le Mans wasn't successful. He competed with Lola T280-Cosworth of Ecurie Bonnier, together with Jo Bonnier and Gerard Larrousse. They retired after 213 laps.
In the 1972 World Sportscar Championship, Van Lennep shared Mirage M6 with Derek Bell (at Sebring, Brands Hatch, Nurburgring, Zeltweg and Watkins Glen) and Alfa Romeo T33/3 with Vic Elford (at Targa Florio).
Victory at 1973 Targa Florio
In 1973, Van Lennep again had a diverse schedule. He competed full season in the British Formula 5000 Championship, driving Lola T330 of Shellsport Luxembourg and finishing 10th. In the World Sportscar Championship, he drove Martini Racing Porsche 911 RSR and scored the victory at the last international edition of Targa Florio, sharing the car with Herbert Müller. With the same car and same co-driver, Van Lennep competed at 1973 Le Mans and they finished 4th overall.
Two F1 seasons with Williams
He returned to Formula One in July at 1973 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, driving Frank Williams' Iso-Marlboro IR. He qualified 20th and finished 6th, scoring one point. Later in the year, he finished 9th at Austrian Grand Prix at Österreichring and retired at Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
In 1974, Van Lennep competed for Williams at Belgian Grand Prix at Nivelles, finishing 14th. His last attempt with Williams, at 1974 Dutch Grand Prix, wasn't successful and he failed to qualify.
One point in the last F1 race
He was much more successful in the World Sportscar Championship, driving Martini Racing's Porsche 911 Carrera RSR. He finished third at 1000 km of Spa and second at 6 hours of Watkins Glen, but also second overall at 24 Hours of Le Mans. He shared the car with Herbert Müller.
In 1975, Van Lennep joined Team Ensign for three races of the Formula One championship. In the HB Bewaking-sponsored car, he finished 10th at Dutch Grand Prix and 15th at French Grand Prix. His last F1 race was 1975 German Grand Prix at Nürburgring Nordschleife. He finished 6th and earned his second points in the career.
Second Le Mans victory with Jacky Ickx
During 1975, he raced with Porsche 908/3 at European endurance races which counted for the World Sportscar Championship, with best result 3rd place at 1000 km of Mugello. At Le Mans he shared the Porsche 911 Carrera RSR with John Fitzpatrick, Manfred Schurti and Toine Hezemans, They finished 5th overall and took the win in GT class.
Van Lennep's racing career was concluded in 1976 with best possible result – the victory at Le Mans. He partnered Jacky Ickx in the Martini Porsche 936 and they won with 11 laps advantage over the second placed team.
One of the most versatile drivers
When summarised, Van Lennep's Le Mans statistics were fantastic, because in seven participations he scored two victories and five Top 5 results. It's the result which legitimately gave him a title of the best Dutch driver of the century. One more thing made him a top driver.
It was his diversity, because he successfully raced with open-wheelers, sportscars, touring cars and even rally cars. His rally races are the least known part of his career, but they are definitely worth mentioning, as he raced four times at the most famous rally in the world - the Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Four participations at Rallye Monte-Carlo
His first rally was International Tulpenrallye in his homeland Netherlands. He drove Porsche 911, his co-driver was his brother David and they finished 6th. In 1968, they debuted at Rallye Monte-Carlo with DAF 44, but retired. In 1970 Van Lennep re-appeared at Monte-Carlo, co-driven by Jooks Klein in Volkswagen 411m and they finished 16th overall.
Van Lennep and Klein participated again in 1972 with Ford Escort Mexico. They didn't reach the finish. Van Lennep's final participation was in 1980, with co-driver Ferry van der Geest in Volkswagen Golf GTI. They finished 36th overall and 7th in the class.