The untimely death of long-time Le Mans privateer Alain de Cadanet has been announced. What were his best results in the 24 Hours edurance race?
Even in the 1970s, the idea of a privateer in motorsport seemed to be something for the history books.
In Formula 1, Ken Tyrrell of Tyrrell and Colin Chapman of Lotus slowly lost the position they held at the start of the decade – with the last championship for either coming in 1978 for Lotus – only after a lean few years.
In sportscars, big beasts like Porsche were coming to the fore, meaning the small guys were being marginalised.
Alain de Cadanet was one such privateer bucking the trend.
A long-time Le Mans entrant and latter day broadcaster, the death of de Cadanet was announced after a long illness – being survived by three children from two marriages.
Alain de Cadanet death
Born to a Frenchman Air Force pilot in London, de Cadanet found a niche in driving cars he designed and constructed for himself.
He was a regular face on the grid at Le Mans, lining up for the flag drop 14 times from 1971 to his final appearance at the Circuit de la Sarthe in 1986.
1980 looked to be de Cadanet’s best shot at the overall win, again using one of his own cars, as he and co-driver Desiree Wilson bagged victories at Monza and Silverstone prior to heading to France.
However, in the build-up to the 24 Hours, Wilson crashed, with de Cadanet fighting to even be allowed to start.
He did, as he and fellow co-driver Francois Migault took seventh overall after mechanical problems struck.
de Cadanet’s best Le Mans result
de Cadanet’s best result at the Le Mans 24 Hours came in 1976 – alongside Chris Craft, again in a car bearing his name.
The duo completed 338 laps on their way to a third place finish overall – 11 laps behind winners Jacky Ickx and Gijs van Lennep in a Porsche 936.
de Cadanet and Craft were powered by the venerable Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0L V8 engine that became associated with F1 – finishing just one lap behind Jean-Louis Lafosse and Migault in a Mirage M8.
That would be as good as it got for de Cadanet in the 24 Hours, although he did record third in class again in 1977 with Craft and in ’80 with Migault.
On those occasions, he finished fifth and seventh overall on the road.
After his racing career ended, de Cadanet became a regular presenter for channels such as Speed and ESPN, as well as hosting coverage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
He was also active on the historic racing scene, usually found in a Ferrari or Alfa Romeo.
- HITC would like to send its condolences to the friends and family of Alain de Cadanet at this sad time.
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