- April 18, 1957
- Fia World Rally Championship
Marc Duez is a Belgian racing driver with an illustrious career both in the circuit racing and rallying. Born in 1957, Duez started to race in 1977 and he is still active today, mostly in rally events.
His greatest achievements are four victories at 24 hours of Nürburgring, three wins at 24 hours of Spa and four class podiums at 24 hours of Le Mans. In rallying, Duez recorded more than 170 starts, including 24 WRC events, with fourth place at 1991 Tour de Corse as his best WRC result and three Belgium Rally Championship titles on his account.
Duez started a career at iconic Spa-Francorchamps
Marc Duez was born on April 18, 1957, in Verviers in eastern Belgium. He started his racing career at the iconic Belgian race track, the Circuit Spa-Francorchamps, entering the 24-hour race in 1977 with Toyota Celica 2000 LB.
In 1978, he participated in selected rounds of the European Touring Car Championship driving a Datsun Cherry, in some GT races with Porsche 934 and returned to 24h Spa with Toyota Sprinter Trueno. His co-drivers at Spa were Thierry Boutsen and Lella Lombardi.
Combining single-seaters, touring cars and rally cars
Duez also tried his luck in the single-seater racing, participating in one race of the Formula 3 European Championship. In 1978, he also started a career in stage rallying, with Toyota Celica 2000 GT at Boucles de Spa Rally.
In the following years, Duez continued to combine single-seaters, touring cars and rally cars. At Spa 24 hours, his next car was Ford Capri III 3.0S in 1979 and 1980, with two DNFs as results. In 1981, he was driving Mazda RX-7 at Spa 24h, finishing the race for the first time in five attempts. He was in the fifth place.
Three-time runner-up in the open wheel competitions
In the single-seater competitions, Duez recorded runner-up finishes in the 1980 Belgian Formula Ford, 1981 Formula Ford Euroseries and 1982 VW Castrol Europa Pokal. His last open-wheel competitions were the Formula 3 championships in France and Germany in 1984.
In touring car races, including Spa 24h, Duez continued to drive different cars. In three years, he participated at 24h Spa with three different cars: Audi 80 Coupe (1982), Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC (1983), Rover Vitesse (1984).
Duez debuted at Le Mans in 1983
In 1983, Duez debuted in the C class prototype racing, participating in few races with Joest Racing's Porsche 936C, including at 24 hours of Le Mans. Duez debuted at Le Mans alongside Jean-Michel Martin and Philippe Martin in the #15 Belga Team Joest Racing Porsche. They retired after just nine laps due to mechanical problems.
After spending the 1984 season in the European Touring Car Championship with Austin Rover Group, Duez participated in a couple of endurance races with Joest Racing's Porsche 956. He continued to drive for Joest Racing in 1986, but also for Ecurie Ecosse with their C2 class prototype. He and Ray Mallock scored three C2 class wins at Nurburgring, Spa and Fuji.
Maiden class podium at 1987 Le Mans race
Duez returned to Le Mans with Ecurie Ecosse in 1987, driving the Ecosse C286 prototype and reaching a podium in C2 class. He, Ray Mallock and David Leslie finished 8th overall and 2nd in C2 class. With that car, Duez also participated in few more races of the World Sports-Prototype Championship. In the same time, he was driving BMW M3 and BMW 635 CSi in touring car races.
Two Le Mans podiums with Mazda
In 1988, Marc Duez and David Leslie joined Mazdaspeed at Le Mans, scoring one more class podium with #201 Mazda 767. Together with Yoshimi Katayama, they were 17th overall and 2nd in GTP class. A year later, one more podium with Mazda followed. This time, Duez, Volker Weidler and Yojiro Terada finished 3rd in GTP class.
Four Nurburgring 24h wins between 1992 and 1999
During the 1990s, Marc Duez became one of the most successful endurance racers, as he achieved his greatest results in that decade, including four wins at Nurburgring, two wins at Spa and one more podium at Le Mans. The first win at Nurburgring 24h came in 1992, together with Johnny Cecotto, Christian Danner and Jean-Michel Martin in Team Bigazzi's BMW M3.
The second win followed with Team Bigazzi's BMW 320i in 1995, together with Roberto Ravaglia and Alexander Burgstaller as teammates. Duez scored a third N24 win in 1998, driving a BMW 320d. It was the first win for a diesel-powered car. His co-drivers were Hans-Joachim Stuck, Christian Menzel and Andreas Bovensiepen. A year later, in 1999, Duez was on the top podium spot again, together with Peter Zakowski, Hans-Jurgen Tiemann and Klaus Ludwig. They were driving a Chrysler Viper GTS-R.
Two Spa 24h victories with BMW in 1997 and 1998
Twenty years after his racing debut at Spa-Francorchamps, Duez scored his first overall victory at 24 hours of Spa. He won the race in the #1 BMW 320i of Fina Bastos Team, together with Didier de Radigues and Eric Helary. He repeated a victory with the same car in 1998, sharing it with Alain Cudini and Eric van de Poele.
Prior to that win, he was closest to victory in 1990, 1994, 1995 and 1996, finishing in the second place four times. In 1990, he was second with Team Schnitzer's BMW M3 Evo. In other attempts, he was driving BMW 318i or BMW 320i for Fina Bastos Team.
Fourth Le Mans podium with Viper Team Oreca
The fourth Le Mans podium came in 1999 when Duez was a part of the Viper Team Oreca. It was third Le Mans participation with the team for Duez. After two DNFs in 1997 and 1998, he finally reached a podium in 1999, together with Tommy Archer and Justin Bell. Their #52 Chrysler Viper GTS-R finished 12th overall and 2nd in GTS class.
Duez returned to Le Mans two more times, in 2000 with Viper Team Oreca and in 2002 with DAMS, driving the Panoz LMP-1 prototype.
Class victory at 1998 Daytona 24 hours
During a career, Duez had occasional appearances in the American championships and endurance races, including Daytona 24h and Sebring 12h. He achieved the most notable result in 1998, scoring the GT3 class victory with #10 BMW M3 of Prototype Technology Group. He was sharing a car with Bill Auberlen, Boris Said and Peter Cunningham.
Third Spa 24h victory in 2001
In 2001, when the 24 hours of Spa became the sports car race as a part of the FIA GT Championship, instead of a race for touring cars, Marc Duez scored his third win. He was sharing the #7 Larbre Competition Chrysler Viper GTS-R with Christophe Bouchut and Jean-Philippe Belloc.
The 2002 FIA GT Championship season with Paul Belmondo Racing's Chrysler Viper GTS-R was the last full season for Marc Duez in some international competition. Since then, he competed occasionally in many different competitions, regularly returning to 24h Spa with different teams and cars.
Racing with legends against cancer at Spa in 2015
His most recent participation at Spa's endurance race was in 2015, when he was a part of #240 crew under the banner BMW Racing Against the Cancer, together with other Belgian veterans Pascal Witmeur, Jean-Michel Martin and Eric van de Poele.
Belgian rally champion in 1982
Parallel to his diverse schedule of races on the circuits all around the world, Marc Duez was also developing a career as a rally driver. After his rally debut in 1978, Duez was participating mostly in the Belgian events in the following years, with few travels to ERC events in other countries. His rally cars were Ford Escort RS 1800 MkII, Fiat 131 Abarth, Datsun Violet 160J and Porsche 911 SC.
Duez scored maiden ERC victory in 1981 with Porsche 911 SC. Next year, he won two times and finished fifth in the ERC standings but the real success was his championship title in the Belgian Rally Championship.
Class victory in the WRC debut
After conquering Belgium in 1982, it was a time for WRC debut in 1983. Duez's first WRC event was the 1983 Rally der Portugal, where he was driving Opel Manta GT/E, finishing 16th overall and first in A7 class. For the rest of the season, he was driving Audi Quattro A1 in the ERC events, scoring two wins and finishing 7th in the European championship standings.
Three WRC starts with Group B MG Metro 6R4
After just two rally events in 1984, Duez intensified his rally activities again in 1985, driving mostly the Audi Quattro A2. At the end of the year, he was driving MG Metro 6R4 in two UK national events, as a preparation for WRC races in 1986.
In the last year of Group B cars, Duez participated in three WRC events (Portugal, Sanremo, UK) with factory-entered MG Metro 6R4. He didn't finish any of those rallies. In the European Championship events, he scored one win and two podiums with MG Metro.
Belgian rally champion again in 1989
In 1987, Duez was driving BMW M3 in the European Rally Championship, attending just one WRC event. It was Tour de Corse, where he finished sixth overall. Duez spent two more seasons with BMW M3 in rally competitions, with the season 1989 being his most successful in a career.
That year, he participated in five WRC events with BMW M3, taking points four times and finishing 13th in the points. In the same year, he became the Belgian rally champion for the second time in a career, driving a BMW M3 for BMW Fina Team.
Third Belgian rally title in 1990
In 1990, Duez switched to Ford Fina Rally Team, driving a Ford Sierra Cosworth in the first part of the season and getting the 4x4 version late in the season. With three wins, he captured his third Belgian rally title. In the European championship, he was the winner two times and finished 7th in the points.
In the World Rally Championship, Duez participated in four events, finishing best in the 8th place at Rally de Portugal.
Fourth place at 1991 Tour de Corse as the best WRC result
In 1991, still backed by Fina as his main sponsor, Duez was driving Toyota Celica GT-4. He successfully competed in three WRC events, finishing 11th at Monte Carlo, 4th at Tour de Corse and 8th at RAC Rally. A fourth-place finish at Corsica, where he was driving for the factory team, remained his best WRC result in a career.
Later in the 1990s, as he was focusing on his touring car and sports car races, Duez had just few rally appearances every year, using different cars – Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD, Ford Escort RS Cosworth, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III or Subaru Impreza 555.
Returning to WRC in 1998
Duez returned to the World Rally Championship in 1998, entering the Rallye Monte-Carlo with Team Gamma's Mitsubishi Carisma GT Evo IV. He finished fourth in Production class. Later in the season, he joined Seat Sport to drive Seat Ibiza Kit Car in one WRC event (Portugal) and Seat Cordoba WRC in two events (Italy, Australia).
In 1999, Duez returned to Monte-Carlo with Team Gamma's Mitsubishi, triumphing in the Production class. Later in the season, he was driving Seat Cordoba WRC in three ERC events for Seat Sport Belgium.
Two participations at Rallye Monte Carlo in 2014 and 2015
After 1999, Duez was out of WRC until 2014, when he participated at Rallye Monte-Carlo with Porsche 996 GT3. One more return to Monte-Carlo with the same car followed in 2015.
In the meantime, between 1999 and 2014, Duez occasionally participated in various rally events, mostly in Belgium, using different new cars, such were VW Polo S1600 or Peugeot 207 S2000, but also historic rally cars prepared for historic events.