Guy Ligier passes away at 85

Guy Ligier passes away at 85
Aug 23, 2015, 9:01 PM

Guy Ligier, who started in 12 Grands Prix but most famously ran a team that won nine Formula 1 races, has died. He was 85.

Jacques Laffite, Ligier JS5-Matra with Guy Ligier, owner, and Gérard Ducarouge, designer and engineer
Jacques Nicolet and Guy Ligier
Gérard Ducarouge with Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Talbot Ligier
Ligier pit area
Jacques Laffite and Didier Pironi
Jacques Laffite

The Frenchman initially made his name as a rugby player, reaching international level, before switching his focus to motorsport.

Having briefly raced motorbikes, he competed in sportscar racing for Porsche before entering a small number of races in a privately entered Cooper Maserati in 1966 and 1967, and then later a Brabham-Repco in 1967.

His best result was 8th place in the 1967 German Grand Prix, but he was handed a world championship point as two cars ahead of him were F2 drivers and ineligible to score points.

Team ownership

Ligier moved to team ownership after the death of friend Jo Schlesser in 1968 – and his first car was the sportscar Ligier JS1, named in Schlesser's honour.

He stayed in sportscar racing for several years, but bought the assets of Matra in 1974 and moved in to F1 for 1976. His team won its first grand prix in Sweden in 1977 with Jacques Laffitte.

The team went on to win nine F1 races but steadily slipped away from competitive form in the late 1980s – and by 1992 his team was sold to Cyril de Rouvre.

There was a brief resurrection of fortunes for the team, which included Olivier Panis's victory in 1996 at the Monaco Grand Prix, but was then sold to Alain Prost and renamed after the four-time champion for the 1997 season, continuing until folding at the end of the 2001 season.

Ligier went on to become a successful French fertiliser business, and built Ligier micro-cars.

Boullier pays tribute

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier paid tribute to Ligier, saying: "It was with great sadness that I heard the news that Guy Ligier had passed away.

"As a child growing up in Le Mans, I was inspired and entranced by his iconic and beautiful pale-blue-and-white Ligier Formula 1 cars, driven with panache and aplomb by such French racing heroes as Jacques Laffite, Patrick Depailler and Didier Pironi.

"Guy himself was a tough and uncompromising character, but he was also a racer through and through. On behalf of all at McLaren, I'd like to offer my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of a great Frenchman."

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
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