Jean-Pierre Beltoise died in Senegal today Monday 5th January 2015.
A legend of motor sport has left us at the age of 77. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest would like to express its sincerest condolences to his family and friends.
Jean-Pierre Beltoise was born in Boulogne-Billancourt on 26th April 1937. He was a Le Mans regular and raced in the event 14 times between 1963 and 1979 including eight outings at the wheel of a Matra, twice in an Inaltera and a René Bonnet and once in a Ligier and a Rondeau.
Although he shone on several occasions in the Sarthe he never won the race, and his best result was fourth place in 1969 with Piers Courage in a Matra MS 650. However, he won the Index of Performance on his maiden outing in 1963 at the wheel of a René Bonnet Aérodjet LM6 and the GTP category in 1976.
Between 1966 and 1974 Beltoise was part of the famous Matra saga sharing the blue cars with drivers as quick and as well known as he was: Johnny Servoz-Gavin, his brother-in-law François Cevert, Henri Pescarolo, Chris Amon and Jean-Pierre Jarier. When the Matra adventure ended, Beltoise continued at Le Mans with Ligier who carried on flying the French blue colours.
He then drove the Inalteras built by Jean Rondeau, and his last outing in the Sarthe was at the wheel of one of the prototypes built by the Le Mans driver/constructor with Henri Pescarolo to whom he was very close. Beltoise loved sports prototype racing and even though he never won the biggest prize in endurance racing he racked up 12 victories in long-distance events.
After making his competition debut on motorbikes in the 50s, Beltoise was the perfect illustration of the all-rounders of the 60s and 70s able to race and win in many different categories.
He will be forever remembered for his heroic, outstanding victory in the rain-soaked 1972 Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1972 at the wheel of a BRM (his only world championship success). He also won two other non-championship F1 events.
Once Beltoise hung up his helmet he became a fervent defender of road safety. He died today 5th January following a stroke followed by a hemorrhage which had plunged him into a coma since 2nd January.
His two sons, Anthony and Julien, inherited his passion for motor sport, and Anthony has raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours on three occasions.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest would like to present its most sincere condolences to his wife, Jacqueline, and his two sons, Anthony and Julien.
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “One of the great names in French motor sport has left us. Jean-Pierre will forever be remembered as a flamboyant driver who was so proud to fly his country’s colours and take part in the revival of French teams in the 60s and 70s. He wrote his name in some of the most emblematic pages in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours by giving his all at the wheel of Matras, Ligiers and a Rondeau. Jean-Pierre Beltoise was not only part of the legend of motor sport, but above all he also made a big contribution to writing it!”
Jean-Pierre Beltoise at the Le Mans 24 Hours
1963: n°53 René Bonnet Aérodjet LM6 with Claude Bobrowski. 11th, 1st Thermal Efficiency Efficiency Index and 1st 1 101 to 1 150 cc class.
1964: n°55 René Bonnet Aérodjet with Gérard Laureau. Retired.
1966: n°41 Matra M 620 with Johnny Servoz-Gavin. Retired.
1967: n°29 Matra M 630 with Johnny Servoz-Gavin. Retired.
1969: n°33 Matra-Simca MS 650 with Piers Courage. Fourth.
1970: n°31 Matra-Simca MS 650 with Henri Pescarolo. Retired.
1971: n°31 Matra-Simca MS 660 with Chris Amon. Retired.
1972: n°12 Matra-Simca MS 670 with Chris Amon. Retired.
1973: n°10 Matra-Simca MS 670 B with François Cevert. Retired.
1974: n°6 Matra-Simca MS 680 with Jean-Pierre Jarier. Retired.
1975: n°97 Ligier JS 2 with Jean-Pierre Jarier. Retired.
1976: n°1 Inaltera GT with Henri Pescarolo. Eighth overall, 1st GTP Group.
1977: n°1 Inaltera GR 6 with Al Holbert. Thirteenth overall.
1979: n°4 Rondeau M 379 with Henri Pescarolo. Tenth overall.