Big things with little cars
Big things with little cars

French Friday: Looks like a winner

But it isn’t. Not this one, anyway. This is the Rondeau M379B, a car with an interesting gestation and a Le Mans win under its belt. This one suffered a DNF in 1980 despite being at the hands of none other than Henri Pescarolo and Jean Ragnotti, while its nearly identical looking sister car took the win.

Illustration for article titled French Friday: Looks like a winner
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Gotta love that shape, and it should look familiar, as we’ve seen its older brother before...

Illustration for article titled French Friday: Looks like a winner
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That being the Inaltera LM, the forebear of the M378 and thus the 379. And one also driven by Ragnotti, so when he came back to the Rondeau stable for 1979 after his stint at Renault Sport in 1978, he was up to speed quickly. With three cars entered and strong driver rosters, the Rondeau squad looked good in 1980, especially considering Porsche would not have an “official” presence that year. The closest thing to a factory Porsche would be the “Martini 908/80” of Jacky Ickx and Reinhold Joest, which for all intents and purposes was a built-up 936 called a 908 so no one would think Porsche sold customer prototypes. Mr. Rondeau himself would pilot the #16 “Le Point” car with Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Pescarolo and Ragnotti would helm this #15 “ITT” car, and Gordon Spice, Phillippe Martin, and Jean-Michel Martin would drive the #17 “Belga” 379, itself entered in the GTP class, though to essentially the same spec as its “S” class teammates.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Looks like a winner

The #15 would take the pole position in a difficult qualifying session, with the fastest lap calculated from the average of its two fastest driver’s best from an earlier session, the first time organizers had done this. It had been raining heavily, so apparently this decision was made in the interest of fairness to those who could not post a good time once it got wet. Also, the timekeepers were threatening to strike, because France. The race would be one of the wettest in history, creating havoc throughout the field and giving a little more parity between GT cars and prototypes.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Looks like a winner

Pescarolo and Ragnotti would lead more than once, but alas would be out before dawn. Their DFV decided it had had enough shortly after midnight, and they were forced to retire. The #16 car of Rondeau and Jaussaud, however, would go on to glory and become the only car to win Le Mans driven by its constructor. The Belga car would come 3rd behind the bastard-child “908", so all in all a good outing for the Rondeau squad.

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Secret code language, roughly translated:  Why is Pescarolo’s helmet green?  For ease of identification, Matra drivers were asked to pick a helmet color from those of warheads made by the MATRA conglomerate.  From that point forth, his helmets were green because he considered it his lucky color.
Secret code language, roughly translated: Why is Pescarolo’s helmet green? For ease of identification, Matra drivers were asked to pick a helmet color from those of warheads made by the MATRA conglomerate. From that point forth, his helmets were green because he considered it his lucky color.

So... see this super cool book in the secret code language? That showed up unannounced today from none other than Jobjoris, who has not only acted as diecast pimp but also shown me the ways of Jean (and Philip) Graton’s Michel Vaillant, inarguably the greatest racing comic series ever created. Thanks dude! I super owe you now. Anyway, Monsieur Vaillant keeps a dossier on competitors, and this is that of Henri Pescarolo! Perfect timing, as I had this 379 up for today. This book will come in handy for others too, now to learn Dutch... Oh, and *ahem* I just so happened to have two other Pescarolo cars on my desk...

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How cool is this dude?  Laid back... with my mind on Le Mans and Le Mans on my mind...
How cool is this dude? Laid back... with my mind on Le Mans and Le Mans on my mind...
Illustration for article titled French Friday: Looks like a winner
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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Looks like a winner
The #7 1974 Le Mans winning MS670 is the final Secret Super piece from XJDano, thanks again!!!
The #7 1974 Le Mans winning MS670 is the final Secret Super piece from XJDano, thanks again!!!
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The cockpit looks almost too big for the car, so tightly packaged were these.
The cockpit looks almost too big for the car, so tightly packaged were these.
Dat... postereur...
Dat... postereur...
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Again with the killer Matra from XJDano
Again with the killer Matra from XJDano

The model is in 1/43 by IXO. Not bad for $6!

It’s been a great year on LALD (if not so much in the real world), with some amazing features and cars from around the world. I really enjoy being a part of it so thanks to all. I’m also really looking forward to what all you guys bring out in the coming year! And now, as a parting gift, have some gratuitous Jean Ragnotti GIFs also courtesy of Jobjoris:

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Have a great weekend and New Year, LALD, Cheers!

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