Jacky Ickx

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Jacky Ickx
Nationality 22px-Flag of Belgium (civil).png Belgian
Years 1967 - 1979
Team(s) Cooper
Races 120
Championships 0
Wins 8
Podiums 25
Poles 13
Fastest laps 14
First race 1967 Italian Grand Prix
First win 1968 French Grand Prix
Last win 1972 German Grand Prix
Last race 1979 United States Grand Prix

Jacques Bernard (Jacky) Ickx, (born January 1, 1945 in Brussels) is a Belgian racing driver known for his success in Formula One and his six wins in the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Jacky Ickx' daughter Vanina Ickx is also a racing driver.

Formula One career

Jacky Ickx, son of Jacque, a motoring journalist, began his career by successfully riding trial motorcycles before driving touring cars and sports cars. He had already significant experience from taking part in the 1000km races at the Nürburgring before he entered his first Formula One career there in 1967, by driving a Matra F2 car, though. Despite the disadvantage of driving a less powerful F2 car, only two F1 drivers qualified in front of him: Denny Hulme and Jim Clark. He was forced by the regulations to start behind the entire F1 field; nevertheless after 4 laps he was already 5th, overtaking 12 full-blown F1 cars. Unfortunately his front suspension broke and he was forced to retire after 12 laps. Despite his retirement he made a strong impression on the F1 team managers.

At Monza he made his official F1 debut in a Cooper-Maserati, finishing 6th. In 1968 Ickx drove a Formula 1 car for Ferrari. He retired from his first two races, but at his home race at Spa-Francorchamps he started from the front row and finished 3rd. At the French Grand Prix at Rouen he took his first win, in heavy rain. Ickx also finished third at Brands Hatch and fourth at the Nürburgring after driving almost the entire race in heavy rain without his helmet visor. At Monza he finished the race in third position. In Canada his luck left him when he crashed and broke his left leg, which meant he could not compete for the two following Grand Prix.

In 1969 Ickx choose to drive for the Brabham team, which was focussed around the owner and driver, Jack Brabham. His first results were poor, but when Brabham broke his foot, Ickx got use of the first car and his results immediately began to improve. Jacky finished third in France, second in England and won in Canada and in Germany on the Nürburgring, the last F1 race there before The Ring was made less bumpy and dangerous. In the Mexican Grand Prix Jacky finished second and became runner-up in the driver's world championship. He then decided to leave Brabham to return to Ferrari because he had become too good a driver to be the second man.

As in 1969, he had a weak start to the 1970 season. During the Spanish Grand Prix he had a crash and his car caught fire. It took at least 20 seconds for him to leave the burning car and was hospitalized with severe burns. After 17 days he was back in his car at the Monaco Grand Prix, but his Ferrari was no match for the Lotus of Jochen Rindt. The car started to improve and at the German Grand Prix (held at Hockenheimring as his favorite Nürburgring was boycotted for safety reasons) he fought with Rindt for the win, but finished a close second. At the Austrian Grand Prix it was Ickx that took the win. In Monza fate struck and Rindt lost his life during free practice. Ickx was the only driver with a chance to take the championship from Rindt who had already won 5 of 6 races in that season, with 4 more to go. Monza saw a win of Ferrari team mate Clay Regazzoni while Ickx' car broke down. The Belgian took the win at Canada but in the US GP at Watkins Glen he only finished fourth, with Emerson Fittipaldi scoring his first win for Lotus as well as the Championships for the team and his late team mate. Despite winning the last race in Mexico, Ickx could not beat Rindt's points total.

In 1971 Ickx and Ferrari started as favorites, but the championship went to Jackie Stewart with the new Tyrrell, due to the fact that Ferrari traditionally started the season with its full attention on the sports car championship rather than Formula 1, a fact that had already caused John Surtees to leave in the middle of the 1966 season.

Ickx was able to win the GP at Zandvoort in the rain with Firestone wet tires while Stewart had no chance with his Goodyear rubber. After that he had a lot of retirements, while Stewart took one win after the other, despite Ickx giving him a good challenge on the Nürburgring once again, where both drivers shared victories from 1968 to 1973. That long and very challenging track was the favourite of Ickx, while Stewart had called it the Green Hell as well as being a driving force behind the driver boycott of 1970 that urged the Germans to rework the layout of the track which had been built in 1927. Stewart said the only thing that had changed since then were the trees growing bigger. As requested, those near the track were cut and replaced with a small run-off areas plus armco. So, the Scot and the Belgian not only fought on the track, but also off the track. Stewart was constantly fighting for more safety in F1, while Ickx thought by doing that the challenge was taken out of F1.

In 1972 Ickx stayed at Ferrari and finished 2nd in Spain and Monaco. After that the Ferrari only got noticed for its retirements. Yet, once again it was the Nürburgring where Ickx was eager to show it was his track, giving his great rival Stewart no chance at all. Like for Stewart one year later, and other champions like eg. Juan Manuel Fangio in 1957, it turned out that the last F1 win for Ickx came at Nürburgring, where superior driving skill could beat superior machinery.

In 1973, the Ferrari 312B3 was no longer competitive, and Ickx only managed one 4th place during the opening GP of the season. While being successful with their sports cars, which were driven to several wins by Ickx himself, the F1 program of the Italians was outclassed, and they even had to skip some F1 races, notably the Nürburgring. This was not acceptable to Ickx, who left the team halfway through the season. Instead, he raced the German GP at the Nürburgring in a McLaren, and scored 3rd place behind the Tyrells of Stewart and Cevert.

When Jacky signed with Team Lotus in 1974, a difficult period awaited him. Lotus had problems replacing the successful but aging Lotus 72 (which had its debut in 1970) and during the championship Ickx only managed a 3rd place in Brazil. Ickx could only prove that he was the Rain Master when he won the non-championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch after having passed Niki Lauda by the outside at Paddock Bend. After the Brazilian GP it went downwards with the results of the Lotus-Ford.

1975 was even more disastrous for Lotus and Ickx left the team halfway through the season, even though he managed a 2nd place in the chaotic GP of Spain which was overshadowed by accidents.

It seemed like the end of his career was near. In 1976 Ickx signed at the new teams of Wolf and later at Ensign. Only now and then did he race a GP. In 1979 he ended his career as a GP driver at Ligier, but still continued to win a lot of races in various sports car series, where Jacky had decided to concentrate on fully.

Career overview

Year # GP's Team Points Poles Fastest Laps Victories WC standing
1967 2 Matra / Cooper 1 0 0 0 19
1968 9 Ferrari 27 1 0 1 4
1969 11 Brabham 37 2 3 2 2
1970 13 Ferrari 40 4 5 3 2
1971 11 Ferrari 19 2 3 1 4
1972 12 Ferrari 27 4 3 1 4
1973 12 Ferrari/McLaren/Williams 12 0 0 0 9
1974 15 Lotus 12 0 0 0 10
1975 9 Lotus 3 0 0 0 16
1976 8 Williams/Ensign 0 0 0 0 /
1977 1 Ensign 0 0 0 0 /
1978 3 Ensign 0 0 0 0 /
1979 8 Ligier 3 0 0 0 15


  • 114 Grand Prix'
  • 181 points
  • 8 victories
  • 25 podiums
  • 13 poles
  • 25 first rows
  • 14 fastest laps

Endurance racing career

In 1966, Ickx teamed up with Hubert Hahne in a BMW 2000TI to win the Spa 24 Hours endurance race in his native Belgium.

In 1969 Jacky Ickx raced in the 24 hours of Le Mans for the first time. This race also saw the first appearance of the Porsche 917 in Le Mans, which was regarded by far as the favorite. The Ford GT40 that Ickx drove with Jackie Oliver appeared at that time as an obsolete car, outperformed by the new Porsche 917 but also by the older Porsche 908 and the Ferrari, Matra and Alfa-Romeo.

As Ickx was opposed to the traditional Le Mans start which he considered to be dangerous, he slowly walked across the track to his machine, instead of running. He locked the safety belt carefully and thus was the last to start the race, chasing the field. In lap one, a tragic event proved that Ickx was right: private driver John Woolfe had a fatal accident in his new and powerful 917. He had not taken time to belt himself in.

During the race the Porsche 917 proved unreliable, and none were to finish. The last four hours of the race turned into a duel between the Porsche 908 of Hans Herrmann/Larrouse and the Ford GT-40 of Ickx/Oliver. In the last hour, Ickx and Herrmann continuously leapfrogged each other, the Porsche being faster on the straights due to less aerodynamic drag, while being passed again under braking as the brake pads were worn and the team reckoned there was no enough time left to change them. Ickx won the race by the smallest of competitive margins ever, with less than 120 yards between the two cars, despite having lost a bigger distance intentionally at the start. He also won his case for safety, as in 1970, all drivers could start the race sitting in their cars with the belts tightened properly.

In later years, Ickx won a record 6 times at the 24h race at Le Mans, becoming known as "Monsieur Le Mans". In 2005, Tom Kristensen passed him with 7 victories overall, but most of these came within consecutive years and the same superior car and team of Audi.

From 1976 on, he was a factory driver for Porsche and their new turbocharged race cars, the 935 and especially the 936 sports car, which he drove to wins in Le Mans 3 times. These drives, as well as the losing effort in 1978, often in the rain and at night, were some of the finest ever. The win in 1982 came with the new and superior 956 model, though, which carried him to two title as world-champion of endurance racing, in 1982 and 1983.

In 1983, Ickx was the team leader at Porsche, but a new team mate was faster than him: young German Stefan Bellof set new lap records at the Nürburgring in the last ever sports car race held on the original configuration of Ickx favourite track. As it turned out, Ickx and Bellof would become involved in controversional events later on.

In 1984, Ickx acted as F1 race director in Monaco, and red-flagged the race due to rain, when leader Alain Prost in a Porsche-powered McLaren was about to be caught by a young Ayrton Senna. Also, Stefan Bellof had started from the back of the grid, as his underpowered Tyrell-Cosworth could not provide extra boost in qualifying like the turbos of all others. Yet, in the wet race, he managed to pass many others and was on pace for catching both Senna and Prost when Ickx decided to stop the race. That saved the win for Prost, but due to the short distance covered over all, only half the points for the win were awarded (4.5), less than for a second place in a full race (6). Ironically, at the end, Prost lost the 1984 championship to Lauda by half a point!

In 1985, Ickx was involved in a tragedy. Bellof raced a private Porsche while waiting to join the Ferrari F1 team in 1986, which had promised him a seat after his performance in Monaco, similar to what they had done for Lauda after he outclassed Ickx there in 1973. At Spa, Ickx hometrack, the young German in the private Porsche of Brun tried to lap the experienced Belgian in the factory car. In Eau Rouge, it seemed that Ickx left a gap and Stefan squeezed into it. Both cars collided and crashed, with Bellof getting killed, while Ickx walked away. He would retire from professional racing at the end of the season

24 hours of Le Mans victories

  • 1969 - Jacky Ickx / Jackie Oliver (Ford GT-40)
  • 1975 - Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell (Mirage GR8)
  • 1976 - Jacky Ickx / Gijs van Lennep (Porsche 936)
  • 1977 - Jacky Ickx / Hurley Haywood / Jürgen Barth (Porsche 936)
  • 1981 - Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell (Porsche 936)
  • 1982 - Jacky Ickx / Derek Bell (Porsche 956)

Other races

Ickx also co-drove to victory with Allan Moffatt at the 1977 Hardie Ferodo Bathurst 1000 in Australia, became champion of CAN-AM in 1979, and won the Rally Paris-Dakar in 1983 for Mercedes.

His other Le Mans 24 hour victories outside that as a driver was when he consulted for the Oreca team who were running a Mazda 787B for Mazda in 1991

After he retired from his professional racing career, he continued to compete in the Paris Dakar Rally, even competing with Vanina in recent years. Nowadays, he appears in historic events as a driver, such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Monterey Historics, usually on behalf of Porsche and Ferrari. He still acts as the Clerk of the Course for the Monaco Grand Prix.


Jacques Bernard Ickx is one of the two people (along with Jacques-Henri Laffite) believed most likely to be the unidentified driver in director Claude Lelouch's classic 1976 short film C'était un rendez-vous.

See also

External links

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