Jacky Ickx

Jacques Bernard "Jacky" Ickx (born January 1, 1945 in Brussels, Belgium) is a Belgian former racing driver who achieved 25 podium finishes in Formula One and six wins in the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Racing career

Jacky Ickx was introduced to the sport when he was taken by his father, motoring journalist Jacques Ickx, to races which he covered. Despite this family background, Jacky had limited interest in the sport until his father bought him a 50 cc Zundapp motorcycle. Soon afterwards, Ickx won 8 of 13 races at the first season and the European 50 cc trials title. He took another two titles before he moved to racing a Lotus Cortina in touring car racing, taking his national saloon car championship in 1965. He also competed in sports car races where he had already significant experience from taking part in the 1000km races at the Nürburgring.

Formula One

Ickx entered his first Formula One race at the Nürburgring in 1967, driving a Matra F2 car. Despite the disadvantage of driving a less powerful F2 car, only two F1 drivers qualified in front of him: Denny Hulme and Jim Clark. He was forced by the regulations to start behind the entire F1 field; nevertheless after 4 laps he was already 5th, overtaking 12 full-blown F1 cars. Unfortunately his front suspension broke and he was forced to retire after 12 laps. Despite his retirement he made a strong impression on the F1 team managers.

At Monza, he made his official F1 debut in a Cooper-Maserati, finishing 6th. In 1968 Ickx drove a Formula 1 car for Ferrari. He retired from his first two races, but at his home race at Spa-Francorchamps he started from the front row and finished 3rd. At the French Grand Prix at Rouen he took his first win, in heavy rain. Ickx also finished third at Brands Hatch and fourth at the Nürburgring after driving almost the entire race in heavy rain without his helmet visor. At Monza he finished the race in third position. In Canada his luck left him when he crashed and broke his left leg, which meant he could not compete for the two following Grand Prix.

In 1969, Ickx chose to drive for the Brabham team, which was focused around the owner and driver, Jack Brabham. His first results were poor, but when Brabham broke his foot, Ickx got use of the first car and his results immediately began to improve. Jacky finished third in France, second in England and won in Canada and in Germany on the Nürburgring, the last F1 race there before 'The Ring' was made less bumpy and dangerous. In the 1969 Mexican Grand Prix Jacky finished second and became runner-up in the drivers' world championship. He then decided to leave Brabham to return to Ferrari because he had become too good a driver to be the second man.

As in 1969, he had a weak start to the 1970 season. During the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix he had a crash and his car caught fire. It took at least 20 seconds for him to leave the burning car and was hospitalized with severe burns. After 17 days he was back in his car at the Monaco Grand Prix, but his Ferrari was no match for the Lotus of Jochen Rindt. The car started to improve and at the German Grand Prix (held at Hockenheimring as his favourite Nürburgring was boycotted for safety reasons) he fought with Rindt for the win, but finished a close second. At the Austrian Grand Prix it was Ickx that took the win. In Monza fate struck and Rindt lost his life during free practice. Ickx was the only driver with a chance to take the championship from Rindt who had already won 5 of 9 races in that season, with 4 more to go. Monza saw a win by Ferrari team-mate Clay Regazzoni while Ickx's car broke down. The Belgian took the win at Canada but in the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen he only finished fourth, with Emerson Fittipaldi scoring his first win for Lotus as well as the Championships for the team and his late team-mate. Despite winning the last race in Mexico, Ickx could not beat Rindt's points total.

In 1971, Ickx and Ferrari started as favourites, but the championship went to Jackie Stewart with the new Tyrrell, because Ferrari traditionally started the season with its full attention on the sports car championship rather than Formula 1, a fact that had already caused John Surtees to leave in the middle of the 1966 season.

Ickx was able to win at Zandvoort in the rain with Firestone wet tyres, while Stewart had no chance with his Goodyear rubber. After that, he had a lot of retirements, while Stewart took one win after the other, despite Ickx giving him a good challenge on the Nürburgring once again, where both drivers shared victories from 1968 to 1973. That long and very challenging track was the favourite of Ickx, while Stewart had called it the 'Green Hell' as well as being a driving force behind the driver boycott of 1970 that urged the Germans to rework the layout of the track, which had been built in 1927. Stewart said the only thing that had changed since then were the trees growing bigger. As requested, those near the track were cut and replaced with a small run-off areas plus armco. So, the Scot and the Belgian not only fought on the track, but also off the track. Stewart was constantly fighting for more safety in F1, while Ickx thought by doing that the challenge was taken out of F1. In 1972, Ickx stayed at Ferrari and finished 2nd in Spain and Monaco. After that the Ferrari only got noticed for its retirements. Yet, once again it was the Nürburgring where Ickx was eager to show it was his track, giving his great rival Stewart no chance at all. As for Stewart one year later, and other champions such as Juan Manuel Fangio in 1957, it turned out that the last F1 win for Ickx came at Nürburgring, where superior driving skill could beat superior machinery.

In 1973, the Ferrari 312B3 was no longer competitive, and Ickx only managed one 4th place during the opening Grand Prix of the season. While being successful with their sports cars, which were driven to several wins by Ickx himself, the F1 program of the Italians was outclassed, and they even had to skip some F1 races, notably the Nürburgring. This was not acceptable to Ickx, who left the team halfway through the season. Instead, he raced the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in a McLaren, and scored 3rd place behind the Tyrrells of Stewart and Cevert.

When Jacky signed with Team Lotus in 1974, a difficult period awaited him. Lotus had problems replacing the successful but aging Lotus 72 (which had its debut in 1970) and during the championship Ickx only managed a 3rd place in Brazil. Ickx could only prove that he was the Rain Master when he won the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch after having passed Niki Lauda by the outside at Paddock Bend. After the Brazilian Grand Prix it went downwards with the results of the Lotus-Ford.

1975 was even more disastrous for Lotus and Ickx left the team halfway through the season, even though he managed a 2nd place in the chaotic Grand Prix of Spain which was overshadowed by accidents.

It seemed as if the end of his career was near. In 1976 Ickx signed at the new teams of Walter Wolf Racing and later at Ensign. Only now and then did he race a Grand Prix. In 1979 he ended his career as a Grand Prix driver at Ligier, but still continued to win a lot of races in various sports car series, which Jacky had decided to concentrate on exclusively.

Endurance racing

In 1966, Ickx teamed up with Hubert Hahne in a BMW 2000TI to win the Spa 24 Hours endurance race in his native Belgium.

In 1969 Jacky Ickx raced in the 24 hours of Le Mans for the first time. This race also saw the first appearance of the Porsche 917 in Le Mans, which was regarded by far as the favourite. The Ford GT40 that Ickx drove with Jackie Oliver appeared at that time was an obsolete car, outperformed by the new Porsche 917 but also by the older Porsche 908 and the new generation of 3-liter prototypes from Ferrari, Matra and Alfa Romeo.

As Ickx was opposed to the traditional Le Mans start which he considered to be dangerous, he slowly walked across the track to his machine, instead of running. He locked the safety belt carefully and thus was the last to start the race, chasing the field. In lap one, a tragic event proved that Ickx was right: private driver John Woolfe had a fatal accident in his new and powerful 917 and fellow countryman Willy Mairesse had an accident which ended his career. Neither of them had taken time to belt himself in.

During the race the Porsche 917 proved unreliable, and none was to finish. The last four hours of the race turned into a duel between the Porsche 908 of Hans Herrmann/Gérard Larrousse and the Ford GT-40 of Ickx/Oliver. In the last hour, Ickx and Herrmann continually leapfrogged each other, the Porsche being faster on the straights owing to having less aerodynamic drag, while being passed again under braking as the brake pads were worn and the team reckoned there was not enough time left to change them. Ickx won the race by the smallest of competitive margins ever, with less than convert|120|yd between the two cars, despite having lost a bigger distance intentionally at the start. He also won his case for safety: from 1970, all drivers could start the race sitting in their cars with the belts tightened properly.

In later years, Ickx won a record 6 times at the 24h race at Le Mans, becoming known as "Monsieur Le Mans". Three of the wins were with Derek Bell: this would become one of the most legendary partnerships. In 2005, Tom Kristensen surpassed him with 7 victories overall.

From 1976 on, he was a factory driver for Porsche and their new turbocharged race cars, the 935 and especially the 936 sports car, which he drove to wins in Le Mans 3 times. These drives, as well as the losing effort in 1978, often in the rain and at night, were some of the finest ever. Jacky Ickx considers the 1977 24 Hours of Le Mans race to be his favourite win of all time. Retiring earlier on in another Porsche 936, which he shared with Henri Pescarolo, the team transferred him to the car of Jürgen Barth and Hurley Haywood which was in 42nd place. Ickx made up for lost laps to lead the race by early morning, but suffered a mechanical problem which forced the car to pit. The mechanics resolved the issue by switching off one cylinder, and Ickx went on to win the race. The win in 1982 came with the new and superior 956 model, though, which carried him to two titles as world champion of endurance racing, in 1982 and 1983.

In 1983, Ickx was the team leader at Porsche, but a new team-mate was faster than him: young German Stefan Bellof set new lap records at the Nürburgring in the last ever sports car race held on the original configuration of Ickx's favourite track. As it turned out, Ickx and Bellof would become involved in controversial events later on.

In 1984, Ickx acted as F1 race director in Monaco, and red-flagged the race because of rain, when leader Alain Prost in a Porsche-powered McLaren was about to be caught by a young Ayrton Senna. Also, Stefan Bellof had started from the back of the grid, as his underpowered Tyrrell-Cosworth could not provide extra boost in qualifying like the turbos of all others. Yet, in the wet race, he managed to pass many others and was on pace for catching both Senna and Prost when Ickx decided to stop the race. That saved the win for Prost, but owing to the short distance covered overall, only half the points for the win were awarded (4.5), less than for a second place in a full race (6). Prost subsequently lost the F1|1984 championship to Lauda by half a point.

In 1985, Ickx was involved with Bellof again, but with tragic consequences. Bellof raced a privateer Porsche while waiting to join the Ferrari F1 team in 1986, which had promised him a seat after his performance in Monaco, similar to what they had done for Lauda after he outclassed Ickx there in 1973. At Spa, Ickx's home track, the young German in the private Porsche 956 of Walter Brun tried to pass the experienced Belgian in the factory car. In Eau Rouge corner, it "seemed" that Ickx left a gap and Stefan squeezed into it. Both cars collided and crashed, Bellof being killed, while Ickx walked away. He retired from professional racing at the end of the season.

24 hours of Le Mans victories

*1969 - Jacky Ickx / Jackie Oliver (Ford GT-40)
*1975 - Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell (Mirage GR8)
*1976 - Jacky Ickx / Gijs van Lennep (Porsche 936)
*1977 - Jacky Ickx / Hurley Haywood / Jürgen Barth (Porsche 936)
*1981 - Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell (Porsche 936)
*1982 - Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell (Porsche 956)

Other races

Ickx also co-drove to victory with Allan Moffat at the 1977 Hardie Ferodo Bathurst 1000 in Australia, became champion of Can-Am in 1979, and won the Rally Paris-Dakar in 1983 for Mercedes-Benz. The victory at the Bathurst 1000 was in a 1977 XC Ford Falcon production car manufactured in Australia with limited modifications for racing. After only days practice in a car he had never driven before he was doing lap times the same or quicker than drivers who drove nothing else and who were familiar with the circuit.

One of his other Le Mans 24 hour victories in a non-driving capacity was when he consulted for the Oreca team who were running a Mazda 787B for Mazdaspeed in 1991. Ickx was also selected to participate in the 1978 and 1984 editions of the International Race of Champions.

After he retired from his professional racing career, he continued to compete in the Paris-Dakar Rally, winning it in 1983 and even competing with daughter Vanina in recent years. Nowadays, he appears in historic events as a driver, such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Monterey Historics, usually on behalf of Porsche and Ferrari. He still acts as the Clerk of the Course for the Monaco Grand Prix and is still a resident of Brussels.

Awards

*Awarded the [http://www.maisonblanche.co.uk/00ickxhc.html Honorary Citizen of Le Mans] prior to the 2000 race, the first sports person to do so.
*Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2002.

Trivia

*Jacky Ickx, Gilles Villeneuve or Jacques Laffite had been believed to be the unidentified driver in the 1976 short film "C'était un rendez-vous", yet it turned out that director Claude Lelouch himself drove through Paris.

*His hobbies are art and collecting paintings.

* Jacky often appears in the famous Belgian Comics Michel Vaillant, as one of the main characters

*Jacky's daughter Vanina has had a sporadic motor racing career, driving variously in the Paris-Dakar rally, Le Mans, and most recently in an Audi in the DTM series.

*Ickx always wore Bell helmets with an exception during his early career, Les Lestons and Buco. His signature color scheme has always been metallic electric blue with white edges.

*The Chopard Company developed three limited edition Chopard Mille Miglia Jacky Ickx Men's watches dedicated to the legendary racer. The fourth Chopard watch honoring Jacky Ickx was designed with cooperation of the champion. [ [http://watches.infoniac.com/index.php?page=articles&catid=2&id=10 Chopard Company to Honor Jacky Ickx] ]

ee also

*Paris-Dakar Rally
*24 hours of Le Mans
*Porsche 956

Complete Formula One World Championship results

() (Races in bold indicate pole position; results in "italics" indicate fastest lap)

References


*cite web|title= DRIVER: Ickx, Jacky|url= http://www.autocoursegpa.com/season_driver~season~1970~driver_id~11824.htm |work= Autocourse Grand prix Archive |accessdate= 2007-09-12
*cite web|title = Europe’s Mr Versatility |url= http://www.forix.com/8w/ickx.html |work= 8W |accessdate= 2007-09-12
*cite web|title= Tribute to Jacky Ickx |url= http://www.jacky-ickx-fan.net/english/home.php |work= Jacky-Ickx-Fan.net |accessdate= 2007-09-12
*cite web|title= Drivers: Jacky Ickx |url= http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/drv-ickjac.html |work= GrandPrix.com |accessdate= 2007-09-12
*cite web|title= Jacky Ickx |url= http://www.gpracing.net192.com/drivers/careers/290.cfm |work= Grand Prix Racing |accessdate= 2007-09-12
*cite web|title= Chopard Company to Honor Jacky Ickx |url= http://watches.infoniac.com/index.php?page=articles&catid=2&id=10 |work= Watches Channel Infoniac | accessdate= 2007-12-12

External links

* [http://www.jacky-ickx-fan.net Official Jacky Ickx Website]
* [http://www.lemans.org http://www.lemans.org]
* [http://digital.library.unt.edu/permalink/meta-dc-649 Jacky Ickx miniature book] , hosted by the [http://digital.library.unt.edu/ University of North Texas Libraries Digital Collections]


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