- June 19, 1953
- Not Active
Jean-Michel Martin is a Belgian former racing driver who raced the most in touring car competitions, winning two Belgian Procar Touring Car Championship titles and winning four times at Spa 24 Hours (in 1979, 1980, 1987 and 1992).
In 1992, he also won at 24 Hours of Nürburgring in a BMW M3. At 24 Hours of Le Mans, his best result was the third place overall in a Rondeau M379 prototype.
Jean-Michel's son Maxime Martin is also a top-class racer who currently serves as Aston Martin Racing driver, spending previously four seasons in DTM with BMW.
Regular entrant at Spa 24 Hours since early days
Born in June 1953, Jean-Michel Martin started his racing career in the early 1970s. He recorded his first attempt at 24 Hours of Spa in 1974, driving an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTV.
Two years later, he raced at Spa in an Opel Commodore, finishing in the eighth place. In the next two attempts at Spa 24h, Martin raced in a Ford Capri II 3.0S, failing to finish both races.
Two wins in a row at Spa 24h, podium at Le Mans
In 1979, Jean-Michel Martin raced at Spa in Gordon Spice Racing's #2 Ford Capri III 3.0S, sharing a car with his younger brother Philippe Martin and scoring his first victory. Next year, the same duo repeated the triumph at Spa in the #3 Ford Capri.
In June 1980, Martin recorded a debut at Le Mans 24 Hours, reaching an overall podium together with Gordon Spice and Philippe Martin in the #17 Rondeau M379. They completed 329 laps, nine less than winners Jean Rondeau and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud in another Rondeau M379 prototype.
In 1981, Martin raced at Circuit de la Sarthe with Alain De Cadenet's Lola LM prototype, sharing a car with his brother and car owner, not finishing the race. At Spa, Jean-Michel and Philippe finished 13th in the #3 Belga Castrol Ford Capri III 3.0S. Later that year, Jean-Michel Martin scored a podium at Kyalami 9 Hours, sharing a Porsche 908/3 Turbo with Jurgen Barth and Siegfried Brunn.
Switching to Porsche in 1982
In 1982, Martin spent a season driving a Porsche 936 for Joest Racing in the Interserie and World Endurance Championship. He was third at Silverstone 6 Hours, together with Philippe Martin and Bob Wollek. At Le Mans 24h, the same trio didn't finish the race in the #4 Porsche 936C.
In 1983, Martin stayed with Jost Racing, sharing a Porsche 936C with his brother and Marc Duez at Silverstone and Le Mans, recording DNFs in both races. In other competitions, he retired at Spa 24 Hours in Belga Team's Ford Mustang.
Two Le Mans attempts and one podium with Mazda
In 1984, Jean-Michel Martin joined Mazdaspeed at Le Mans 24 Hours, sharing the #87 Mazda 727C with David Kennedy and Philippe Martin. They were 15th overall and fourth in C2 class. At Spa 24 Hours, Jean-Michel and his brother joined Gordon Spice in a Toyota Supra, finishing in the fifth place.
In 1985, Jean-Michel rejoined Mazdaspeed at Le Mans, sharing the #86 Mazda 737C with the same co-drivers and finishing third in C2 class. At Spa, he raced for the first time in a BMW, sharing the #24 BMW 635 CSi with his brother and Gordon Spice. They didn't finish the race.
At 1986 Le Mans 24 Hours, Jean-Michel shared the #70 Spice SE86C-Cosworth with Gordon Spice and Ray Bellm, finishing 19th overall and sixth in C2 class. At Spa 24 Hours, he raced again in a BMW 635 CSi, not finishing the race.
1987 Spa 24h victory in a BMW M3
Next year, he spent a season with Team Bigazzi in the European Touring Car Championship, scoring podiums at Vallelunga and Spa. His co-drivers at Spa in the #52 BMW M3 were Olivier Grouillard and Jacques Laffite.
Two-time Belgian touring car champion with different cars
One more season with BMW followed in 1989 when Martin's main competition was the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft). He was driving a BMW M3 for Valier Motorsport, not scoring wins or podiums. On the other side, he became Belgian touring car champion in an Audi 200 Quattro, winning seven out of thirteen races. Outside of those two championships, Martin raced in a BMW M3 at Spa 24 Hours, not finishing the race.
In 1990, Martin defended a title in the Belgian championship, driving a BMW M3 for Waterloo Motors. At Spa 24 Hours, he was driving the #27 BMW M3 Evo for Team Bigazzi, sharing a car with Steve Soper and Armin Hahne and finishing in the fourth place.
A year later, Martin didn't finish the 24-hour race at Spa in a BMW M3. In the Belgian championship, he was second in the points.
1992 - victories at Spa and Nürburgring in the same year
The season 1992 turned out to be one of the most successful years for Jean-Michel Martin as he won two great endurance races. First, in May, he drove Team Bigazzi's BMW M3 Evo to the victory at Nürburgring 24 Hours. His co-drivers were Marc Duez, Johnny Cecotto, and Christian Danner.
Then, in August, Jean-Michel Martin gained his fourth victory at Spa 24 Hours, sharing the #5 FINA Bastos BMW M3 Evo with Steve Soper and Christian Danner. Jean-Michel Martin became a record holder with four wins at Spa and he stayed on the top for the next sixteen years, until Eric van de Poele scored his fifth win in 2008.
Two more podiums at Spa in 1994 and 2000
Following his fourth win at Spa, Jean-Michel stayed active in the Belgian championship and a regular entrant at Spa 24 Hours. He reached one more podium at Spa in 1994, finishing third in the #5 BMW 318iS which he was sharing with Patrick Slaus and Altfrid Heger.
In 1996, Jean-Michel Martin experienced Dakar Rally, reaching the finish line in a Toyota Land Cruiser in 32nd place.
In the new millennium, Jean-Michel raced occasionally in different competitions and, of course, at Spa. He was on a podium again in August 2000, finishing second in the #25 Duller Motorsport's BMW M3, sharing a car with Thierry Tassin and Frederic Moreau.
Sharing a car with son Maxime
In May 2009, at the age 56, Jean-Michel was still active and he shared a car with his son Maxime in the Belgian round of Formula Le Mans series. They were sharing the #15 Oreca FLM 09-Chevrolet at Spa, finishing fourth in Race 1 and seventh in Race 2.
After that, Jean-Michel participated at Spa 24 Hours two more times, driving a Ford Mustang FR500 GT3 for Marc VDS Racing Team in 2011 and then joining the BMW Racing Against Cancer project in 2015, sharing the #240 BMW Z4 GT3 with three other veterans Marc Duez, Pascal Witmeur and Eric van de Poele.
In recent years, Jean-Martin also recorded numerous appearances in historic races and racing events, not just in circuit racing but also in rallying.
Photos: Jean-Michel Martin FB,