Matra in motorsport

This file gives a brief overview of Matra's accomplishments in motorracing, - I have a special section covering their endurance prototypes in more detail.

During the sixties Matra developed their famous screaming 3-litre MS80/81 V-12 engine - which brought the company so much success in their motorsport career. Matra developed a racing programme in the mid 60's and 70's to help publicise the parent company 'Engine Matra'. As with the roadcars, Matra was not afraid to partner other manufactures and engines from BRM and Ford/Cosworth were used in the sports prototypes (eg the M630 or the M650) before Matra completed the development of its own V-12 unit.
This combination led to World Championships in 1973 and 1974. Furthermore Matra made a hat trick at Le Mans by winning in 1972,1973 and 1974.

(Circuit - 8.475 miles)(miles) (mph)
1972Matra-Simca MS670H.Pescarolo, G.Hill (F,GB)2915.1121.45
1973Matra-Simca MS670BH.Pescarolo, G.Larrousse (F)3016.1125.67
1974Matra-Simca MS670BH.Pescarolo, G.Larrousse (F)2862.4 119.27

these figures compares very well with the more recent wins: (ok, - the newer circuit includes more chicanes, but anyway, an average speed of 120+ mph is still very respectable; only few cars have been faster (the 3 Matra's are within the top 25 out of 63 Le-Mans races in total).
Sorted by distance the top-14 cars (at the time of writing in 1996) are:

(miles) (mph)
1973Matra-Simca MS670BH.Pescarolo, G.Larrousse (F)3016.1125.67
1990Jaguar XJR-12 M.Brundle, J.Nielsen, P.Cobb (GB,DK,USA) 3040.7126.69
1982Porsche 956-82J.Ickx, D.Bell (B,GB) 3044.2126.84
1984Porsche 956B K.Ludwig, H.Pescarolo (D,F) 3045.0126.88
1991Mazda 787B J.Herbert, B.Gachot, V.Weidler (GB,B,D) 3058.9127.45
1986Porsche 962C D.Bell, H.Stuck, A.Holbert (GB,D,USA) 3088.1128.66
1969Ford GT40 J.Ickx, J.Oliver (B,GB) 3105.6129.40
1978Renault AlpineJP Jaussaud, D.Pironi (F) 3134.5130.60
1983Porsche 956-83V.Schuppan, H.Haywood, A.Holbert (A,USA,USA)3136.5130.70
1985Porsche 956B K.Ludwig, P.Barilla, J.Winter (D,I,D) 3157.9131.76
1993Peugeot 905B G.Brabham, E.Helary, C.Bouchut (AUS,F,F) 3168.8133.34
1989Sauber Mercedes C9J.Mass, S.Dickens, M.Reuter (D,S,D) 3269.6136.23
1988Jaguar XJR-9LMJ.Dumfries, J.Lammers, A.Wallace (GB,NL,GB) 3313.2137.72
1971Porsche 917 H.Marko, G.van Lennep (A,NL) 3315.2138.13

It appears that the 1980'ies seems to be the fastest Le-Mans decade ever. As a curiosum, the spectacular win of the McLaren F1 in 1995 is not in that list:

 1995  McLaren F1 GTR     Y.Dalmas, JJ Lehto, M.Sekiya (F,SF,J)        2518.1   105.01

but of course the track has been changed since then (chicanes on the Mulsanne straight etc).

More Le-Mans information can be found at:
Dave Davies's great Club-Arnage pages
Le-Mans as experienced from the drivers's seat in '72 (Michael Keyser, Porsche 911)

I have a special page on Matra's carrier in Formula-1.

misc images 1 (nonmoving)

misc images 2 (action)

M620 pictures - The M620 sportsprototype (1967)
M630 pictures - The M630 sportsprototype (1967-69)
M640 pictures - The M640 sportsprototype (1969)
M650 pictures - The M650 sportsprototype (1969-71)
M660 pictures - The M660 sportsprototype (1970-72)
M670 pictures - The M670 sportsprototype (1972-74)
M680 pictures - The M680 sportsprototype (1974-)

Several pictures in the gallery are kindly donated by former Le-Mans driver Michael Keyser - check out his nice site, which among many things offers a huge collection of motorsport links.