The 1968 24 Heures du Mans was raced on September 28 and 29 1968. It was the 10th and final round of the World Sportscar Championship. The race was planned for 15th and 16th June 1968, but had to be postponed to 28th and 29th September due to labour strikes and student riots in France during the summer. For the 1968 race, changes were made in the track layout at Maison Blanche to the pit-straight. The so called Ford chicane was built to lower the cars speed along the pit area. The changes slowed the cars down considerably, well up to 10 seconds a lap.
In 1968, the rules for sports car racing were changed to reduce speed. The mighty 5.0 litres (and more) engines left for the museum and 3.0 litre engines were the new standard. This meant the end of the big Porsche’s, Fords and Ferraris. Cars with up to 5.0 L engines were however still allowed to race the Sport division, provided more than 49 cars were built. This allowed for old cars like the Ford GT 40, the Lola T70 and the Ferrari 275 LM to compete against factory prototypes powered by the new 3 litre engines.
The race turned out to be a fight between Ford GT 40, Matra 630, Alpine A220 and Porsche 908. The four Autodelta entered Alfa Romeo Tipo 33-2 Daytona cars were much stronger than the opposition expected. Although powered by a 2 litre engine, the Alfa’s were a force to reckon with during the entire race. Autodelta’s cars were piloted by Nanni Galli and Ignazio Giunti in car number 39, Nino Vaccarella and Giancarlo Baghetti in car number 41, Mario Casoni and Giampiero Biscaldi in car number 40 and Carlo Facetti and Spartaco Dini in car 38. Racing Team VDS entered two more Alfa Tipo 33-2’s with drivers Pilette and Slotemaker in car number 37 and Trosch and von Wendt in car number 65.
An angry Enzo Ferrari withdrew before the race, because he couldn’t use the big engined cars for the 1968 race. Ferrari was represented only by privateers in 275 LM’s.
Fiat CEO Gianni Agnelli started the race at 15.00 h. The Porsches took the lead. Electric problems threw back the Porsche 908’s, and some were disqualified for not working according to the rules regarding in-race repairs.
Pescarolo had a bad start in his Matra but pushed the car to second position in the rain, His team mate Servoz-Gavin refused to drive the Matra, which also had a broken windscreen wiper. During a pitstop the Matra went up in flames and retired from the race.
The Ford GT40 with Lucien Bianchi and Pedro Rodríguez won the race. A private Porsche 907 was second, followed by a 908 of the Porsche factory team. The Alfa Romeo’s of the Autodelta team performaned impressively; Alfa Tipo 33-2 car number 39 driven by Nanni Galli and Ignazio Giunti finished 4th overall and won the 2 litre class. The two other followed as 5th and 6th overall and 2nd and 3rd in the 2.0 litre class. Car number 41 (Vaccarella and Baghetti) had to retire after 150 laps with a broken fuel pump. The VDS-entered cars both retired with mechanical problems.
|Nr.||Drivers||Car||Team||Laps||Distance||Avg. Speed||Result||Class result||Class|
|39||Giunti / Galli||Alfa Tipo 33-2||Autodelta SpA||322||4326 km||180 km/h||4th||1st||P 2.0|
|38||Facetti / Dini||Alfa Tipo 33-2||Autodelta SpA||315||4232 km||176 km/h||5th||2nd||P 2.0|
|40||Casoni / Biscaldi||Alfa Tipo 33-2||Autodelta SpA||305||4097 km||170 km/h||6th||3rd||P 2.0|
|41||Vaccarella / Baghetti||Alfa Tipo 33-2||Autodelta SpA||150||DNF||P 2.0|
|37||Pilette / Slotemaker||Alfa Tipo 33-2||Racing Team VDS||104||DNF||P 2.0|
|65||Trosch / von Wendt||Alfa Tipo 33-2||Racing Team VDS||7||DNF||P 2.0|