PARIS, FEB 10 2006
Gérard Larousse, posing with Carlos Ghys
Larrousse studied business management at the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Paris but his plans were interrupted by a passion for rally driving and competed enthusiastically in the early 1960s on the French national rallying scene in a Renault Dauphine. His career was then disrupted by military service and his studies and by an accident during his military service when he broke both ankles in a parachute jump. He then decided to concentrate on his competition career and became a professional racing driver in 1966 and by 1969 was hired by the Porsche factory sportscar team. His major success with Porsche was victory in the 1971 Sebring 12 Hours, sharing a 917 with Vic Elford. That year he also won the Tour de France, driving a Matra MS660. He was a Ford factory driver in touring cars in 1972 and in 1973 moved to Matra Sports to be one of the factory sportscar drivers. He won at Vallelunga, Dijon, Zeltweg and Watkins Glen to help Matra to win the World Championship but, most importantly, he shared victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours with Henri Pescarolo. That success was repeated in 1974 and that year he drove a Bretscher Team Brabham BT42 in the Belgian Grand Prix at Nivelles. It was his only Grand Prix start. At the end of the year Matra withdrew from racing and Larrousse moved to Alpine for 1975, sharing victory at Mugello with Jean-Pierre Jabouille. That year he established the Elf Switzerland Formula 2 team and with Jabouille driving won the European F2 Championship. Larrousse won the Hockenheim Formula 2 race, driving one of his own cars. At the end of 1976 he was appointed competition manager of the new Renault Sport, which was formed by a merger of Alpine and Renault-Gordini and he masterminded the company's entry into Formula 1 racing, its victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours and victory on the Monte Carlo Rally. The Renault Sport Formula 1 team won 15 Grands Prix but failed to win a World Championship and at the end of 1985 it was closed down. Larrousse went to work with the Ligier team for a year and then set up his own Formula 1 team in partnership with Didier Calmels. They organized a deal for chassis with Lola Cars and the team entered F1 in the normally-aspirated class in 1987. The team achieved brief success with Lamborghini engines in 1990 but financial troubles were a constant problem and Larrousse had a string of unsuccessful partnerships in the early 1990s before the team was forced to give up F1 in 1995 because it could not pay for its chassis. Larrousse continued to run sportscar teams but without much success.