- July 28, 1961
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- Larrousse,AGS,Peugeot Talbot Sport
The French former racing driver Yannick Dalmas is one of the most successful Le Mans drivers in history because he is among eight drivers who scored four or more wins in the world's greatest endurance race.
Dalmas was the winner of 24 hours of Le Mans four times (1992, 1994, 1995 and 1999), each time with different team and manufacturer (Peugeot, Porsche, McLaren, BMW). He was also the 1992 World Sportscar Champion with Peugeot.
Prior to his Le Mans glory, Dalmas had a short and unsuccessful Formula One career, recording 24 starts in 49 attempts between 1987 and 1994. In other racing series, he was 1984 French Formula Renault champion and 1986 French Formula 3 champion.
Two French championship titles early in a career
Yannick Dalmas was born on July 28, in Le Beausset, Var, France. He started his racing career in the French Renault Turbo Championship, winning three races in 1983 season and finishing third in the points. In his second season, Yannick duplicated the number of wins and won the 1984 Formula Renault title.
The next step on the racing ladder was the French Formula 3 in 1985. In his debut season, driving for Oreca team, Dalmas won three of eleven races, finished as a runner-up behind Pierre-Henri Raphanel. In 1986 Formula 3 season, Dalmas won six times and dominantly took the title, ahead of Jean Alesi. The highlight of the season was the victory in the non-championship Monaco Grand Prix.
In September 1986, Dalmas debuted in the International Formula 3000 Championship at Circuit Bugatti and entered the competition for the full season in 1987. In ten races, Dalmas won two times at Pau and Jarama, to finish fifth in the points.
Formula One debut with Larrousse Lola team
In October 1987, he debuted in Formula One, participating at the Mexican Grand Prix for Larrousse Lola team, which expanded his effort to two cars. His teammate was Philippe Alliot. In Mexico, Dalmas finished ninth, three places behind Alliot. In the Japanese Grand Prix, Dalmas finished 14th. He surprised all by finishing fifth in the last championship round in Australia, but he didn't get any points because only one Larrousse's car was eligible for the points. The fifth place in Adelaide remained Yannick's best result in his F1 career.
In 1998, Dalmas joined Larrousse Lola team for the full season, again with Philippe Alliot as a teammate. In fourteen races Dalmas recorded nine finishes, four retirements and only one DNQ. His best result was seventh place at Monaco Grand Prix. Because of health issues (Legionellosis) he missed the last two rounds of the championship.
14 qualifying failures in 1989 F1 season
He recovered before the start of the 1989 season and continued to drive for Larrousse, and at that time Larrousse switched from Ford to Lamborghini engines. Yannick's performances were catastrophic, as he failed to qualify for five of six races he entered. He qualified only for the San Marino Grand Prix but retired at the start due to electrical issues. From the eighth round of the championship, Dalmas moved to the AGS (Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives), another small team with a bad car. His results were even worse than before, as he failed to qualify in nine consecutive races.
The agony continued in 1990 season, with Yannick Dalmas and Gabriele Tarquini in the cockpits of AGS cars. In sixteen races, Dalmas failed to qualify for the main race eleven times. In Brazil, he retired after 28 laps, in Portugal, his race lasted only three laps. He finished the races at Monza, Paul Ricard and Jerez, where he achieved his best result, which was the ninth place.
A move to Peugeot changed Yannick's future
At the end of 1990, the 29-year-old Dalmas realized that he embarrassed himself enough, so he left Formula One. He joined Peugeot Talbot Sport to compete in the World Sportscar Championship. It was a crucial decision in Yannick's career because in the following decade he became one of the most successful sportscar drivers in the world.
In his debut with Peugeot, he raced at Suzuka, sharing the #6 Peugeot 905 with Keke Rosberg. They started second but retired during the race. Three more retirements followed at Monza, Silverstone and Le Mans, where Pierre-Henri Raphanel joined him and Rosberg. Fifth consecutive retirement followed at Nurburgring and then, finally, Dalmas managed to finish the race and he took his first of many sports car victories. Keke Rosberg and he won at Magny-Cours and three weeks later one more time in Mexico, he finished the WSC season in seventh place.
Maiden Le Mans win and world's title in 1992
The season 1992 was completely different. Dalmas and his new co-driver Derek Warwick won three races and became the world champions. They were victorious at Silverstone, Suzuka and Le Mans. The highlight of the season was Yannick's first Le Mans victory. He was sharing the #1 Peugeot 905 Evo with Warwick and Mark Blundell. They won with a six-lap advantage over the closest rivals in the #33 Toyota TS010.
In 1993, Dalmas was driving Peugeot prototype only at Le Mans, while in the rest of the season he competed with Peugeot in the French Touring Car Championship. At 1993 24 hours of Le Mans, Dalmas, Teo Fabi and Thierry Boutsen finished second in the 1-2-3 victory for Peugeot Talbot Sport.
At the touring car championship, Dalmas scored two podiums with Peugeot 405 Mi16 and finished ninth in the points. He also participated in 24 hours of Spa, finishing second in the #55 Porsche Carrera 2 of Team Paduwa. His co-drivers were Michael Bartels and Harald Grohs.
Second Le Mans win with Dauer 962 LM
The French Supertouring Championship was the main competition for Dalmas in 1994, again with Peugeot 405 Mi16. He won three of 12 races and finished fourth in the points. In June 1994, Dalmas traveled to Circuit de la Sarthe for his only sportscar race in the season. He scored his second Le Mans victory driving the #36 Dauer 962 LM for the Le Mans Porsche Team, alongside Mauro Baldi and Hurley Haywood.
Two-race return to Formula One
In September 1994, Dalmas returned to Formula One, joining Larrousse team at the Italian Gran Prix in Monza. He retired after 18 laps. He competed in one more race two weeks later, the Portuguese Grand Prix at Jerez. He finished 14th. It was the end of his F1 career.
In 1995, Dalmas continued to compete in the touring car races, entering DTM and International Touring Car Championship with Opel Team Joest. In the #10 Opel Calibra V6 4x4, Dalmas had no wins and podiums in 20 races, to finish 18th in the DTM classification and 16th in the ITCC classification.
Third Le Mans win with McLaren F1 GTR
Third Le Mans victory came in June 1995, in the cockpit of the #59 McLaren F1 GTR, entered by Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing. Yannick's co-drivers were Masanori Sekiya and JJ Lehto. Dalmas and Lehto participated in one more sportscar race, in November's 3 hours of Zhuhai, which was the part of the Global GT Championship. They were driving Toyota Supra GT LM for Toyota Team Tom's but didn't reach the finish.
In 1996, Dalmas stayed with Opel Team Joest to drive Opel Calibra at the International Touring Car Championship. In the 24-race season, he had no wins and podiums, to finish 17th in the points.
Fifth consecutive podium at Le Mans
At 1996 24 hours of Le Mans, Dalmas was again competing with Porsche, this time, it was Porsche 911 GT1. His co-drivers were Karl Wendlinger and Scott Goodyear. They finished third overall. It was the fifth consecutive Le Mans podium for Dalmas, including three wins. Later in the season, he was driving Porsche 911 GT1 in Zhuhai's Global GT Championship race, finishing fifth together with Bob Wollek.
Sebring 12h victory with Ferrari
Earlier that season, Dalmas participated in two famous American endurance races – 24 hours of Daytona and 12 hours of Sebring. At Daytona, he was driving Porsche 911 GT2 for Konrad Motorsport, finishing 12th overall and third in GTS-2 class. At Sebring, Dalmas was the part of the winning crew in the #3 Ferrari 333 SP of Team Scandia. His co-drivers were Stefan Johansson, Fermin Velez and Andy Evans. Later in the season, Dalmas competed mostly for Roock Racing and Porsche AG in the FIA GT Championship, driving Porsche 911 GT with different partners.
In February 1998, Dalmas returned to Daytona, to drive #3 Ferrari 333 SP for Scandia Engineering. The team took pole position but retired in the race due to an oil leak. Drivers were Dalmas, Max Papis, Bob Wollek and Ron Fellows.
DNF at 1998 Le Mans race for three former F1 drivers
In the 1998 FIA GT Championship, Dalmas competed with Porsche AG's 911 GT1 and finished fifth in the points after he scored six podiums. Dalmas was the part of the Porsche AG team in the 1998 Le Mans race.
His car was #7 Porsche LMP1/98. Stefan Johansson and Michele Alboreto were his partners. Three former F1 driver didn't reach the finish, they retired after 107 laps.
Fourth Le Mans win with BMW V12 LMR
For 1999 season, Dalmas joined BMW Motorsport in few endurance races. Pierluigi Martini, Joachim Winkelhock and Yannick Dalmas were put together for the first time in the BMW V12 LMR prototype at 12 hours of Sebring. They started third but retired after an accident.
The trio appeared together at Le Mans and brought the #15 BMW V12 LMR to the victory, after starting sixth on the grid. Toyota had the fastest car (Toyota GT-One) in the qualifying and during the race, but it was proven once more that reliability is more crucial than speed.
Joining the group of Le Mans legends
With his fourth victory, Yannick Dalmas joined the group of four legends who won Le Mans four or more times – Jacky Ickx (six times), Derek Bell (five), Olivier Gendebien and Henri Pescarolo (four). The list was later upgraded with Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Tom Kristensen.
At the age of 38, after he entered historical books, Dalmas was ready for retirement. In the following years, he had no full-season arrangement and he competed only at Le Mans and some other selected events.
Two DNFs with Oreca and last race with Audi
In 2000 Le Mans race, Dalmas was the part of the #5 Mopar Team Oreca crew, together with Nicolas Minassian and Jean-Philippe Belloc. They were 14th on the grid but their race lasted only one lap. After that, their Reynard 2KQ prototype stopped due to technical issues.
One more retirement followed in 2001, when Dalmas was a part of the #15 Viper Team Oreca crew, together with Franck Montagny and Stephane Sarrazin. An engine failure on the Chrysler LMP car prevented them from finishing the race. With the same car, Dalmas participated in the European Le Mans Series race at Donington, sharing the car with Olivier Beretta.
In June 2002, Yannick Dalmas came for the last time to the Circuit de la Sarthe as a competitor. He joined Japanese drivers Hiroki Katoh and Seiji Ara in the #5 Audi R8 of the Audi Sport Team Goh. Audi R8 was a dominating car that year, bringing 1-2-3 victory to the German manufacturer. Dalmas and Japanese colleagues finished seventh.
At Le Mans, nobody drove with Dalmas twice
It was Yannick's 12th and last participation at Le Mans, where he scored four overall wins and two more podiums. It's interesting that Dalmas competed at Le Mans as a member of 12 different crews and he had 24 different co-drivers, which is a unique fact in the Le Mans history.
After retirement, he was and still is involved in the motorsport as an employee of FIA, working as an adviser for drivers in the World Endurance Championship. He was also driving a Safety car in the FIA WEC races, becoming a social media star after he was filmed drifting with Audi R8 at Circuit de la Sarthe during the 2016 Le Mans race.
Video : Yannick Dalmas at 2016 24 hours of Le Mans