Date of birth : 1942-03-16
Biography Gijs van Lennep
A much respected driver, Gijs van Lennep always gave a good account of himself on his occasional Grand Prix appearances. He was most successful in sports cars winning Le Mans twice with Helmut Marko and Jacky Ickx. Gijsbert Van Lennep was born in Aerdenhout, Holland, and was, before Jos Verstappen came onto the Grand Prix scene, Holland’s most successful racing driver. He started racing in Formula Vee in 1965 but soon switched to sports car racing.
He attracted the attention of the Porsche factory team who signed him in 1967, taking third with Vic Elford in the Circuit of Mugello. He moved back to single seaters in 1968 trying a season of Formula 3 before returning to sports cars, winning the Porsche Cup for the best privateer in 1970. Van Lennep came to international prominence in 1971 when he partnered Helmut Marko to victory at Le Mans driving the number 22 Martini sponsored Porsche 917, setting a record for the most number of laps travelled in 24 hours. He also won the Paris 1000 Km for the Gulf sponsored John Wyer team and took second in the Targa Florio for Alfa Romeo. He made his F1 debut that year in a Surtees that was hired by his sponsors, Stichting Autoraces Nederland, for his home Grand Prix.
Van Lennep finished a respectable 8th. In 1973 he contested the Rothmans F5000 series taking the title in a Surtees. He also continued racing sports cars with Martini, winning the Targa Florio with Herbert Muller that year in a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR. His intermittent GP career saw him drive for the Williams GP team winning his first championship point with a 6th place in the Dutch Grand Prix, before finishing 9th in Austria and retiring in Italy.
In 1974 Gijs van Lennep drove for Williams in Belgium where he finished 14th before disappointingly failing to qualify for the Dutch Grand Prix. In 1975 he drove in three Grand Prix for Ensign, scoring his second point in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. It was however his last GP as he was replaced by Chris Amon for the next round in Austria. He continued racing sports cars, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours for a second time in 1976 with Jacky Ickx, after which he announced his retirement.
Despite his retirement, Gijs van Lennep is still active in autosports. He has spent numerous hours being an ambassador for a dutch clothing brand that used to enter some of the Porsches of their collection, in classic races. Next to that, he is a welcomed guest at events like the Porsche Soundnacht to entertain the public with some of his great stories from his active race career. Even behind the wheel, Gijs van Lennep remains a competitor feared by his opponents, as he proved in the inaugural Daytona Classic 24H in 2014.
Pictures courtesy Vintage Race Photography