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Porsche congratulates Derek Bell on his 80th birthday

Porsche congratulates Derek Bell on his 80th birthday

Five victories at Le Mans, four in a Porsche / Teammate of Jacky Ickx and Hans-Joachim Stuck

Stuttgart. Derek Bell still has it – a certain, special smile that induced fear in many of his competitors at the race track: warm, yet confident of victory at the same time. On 31 October, the Briton celebrates his 80th birthday. "We would like to wish our former works driver a very happy birthday. Derek Bell was a successful driver for Porsche on and off for 35 years,” says Thomas Laudenbach, Head of Porsche Motorsport.

Born on 31 October 1941 in the London suburb of Pinner in Middlesex, Bell was 23 when he began his racing career at British club events. Just one year later, in 1965, he was competing in the British Formula Three Championship. His talent didn’t go unnoticed, and promotion to the Formula Two European Championship and Formula One quickly followed. The Brit contested his first endurance race at the Circuit de la Sarthe in 1970, and his final 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1996. He started Le Mans no fewer than 26 times and took victory on five occasions, including four times in a Porsche.

 

“I first competed for Porsche at Le Mans in 1971. During testing that weekend, they worked out that I was hitting 396 km/h on the Mulsanne straight. I knew we were fast, but not quite that fast, because I’d only ever experienced that speed before during a take-off at Heathrow. So that was what my initiation with Porsche at Le Mans looked like,” he recalls. Another thing that has stuck with him to this day is the reliability of the cars: “In all that time, only once did something break.” From the Porsche side of things, everything was always possible, says the 80-year-old. “They always had the future in mind. It was just a matter of making sure the vehicle ran and was safe. That was their job.” Bell names winning with the Porsche 936/81 in 1981 as his fondest memory of Le Mans. “Before the first practice session, I hadn’t even sat in that car. But we got the pole position, led every lap, and eventually won the race. That was an unforgettable moment for me because it was a comeback of sorts. I’m very grateful to Porsche for that opportunity,” says the birthday boy. He and his teammate Jacky Ickx won the endurance classic with a 14-lap lead. They were almost an hour faster than the runner-up. “No matter where I was seen with Jacky, he always attracted a crowd. I would sometimes joke: ‘Hi, I'm Derek, I drive here too’,” Bell says with a laugh. “I always looked up to him and admired him. Even today, we’re still friends.”

 

Bell scored numerous victories in the Porsche 956/962 with his teammates Stefan Bellof, Jacky Ickx and Hans-Joachim Stuck, and won the World Endurance Championship title in 1985 and 1986. In 1992, he shared the cockpit of a Porsche 962 at Le Mans with his son, Justin Bell, and Tiff Needell. They took 12th place. Today, Bell lives in Florida.

 

Results during his racing career with Porsche:

 

1971

1st place 1,000km Buenos Aires, Porsche 917.

5th place 12h Sebring, Porsche 917

3rd place 1,000km Brands Hatch, Porsche 917

2nd place 1,000km Monza, Porsche 917

2nd place 1,000km Spa, Porsche 917

3rd place 6h Watkins Glen, Porsche 917

2nd place 1,000km Barcelona, Porsche 917

1st place 1,000km Paris, Porsche 917

 

1976

3rd place 1,000km Nürburgring, Porsche 934

7th place 1,000km Nürburgring, Porsche 911 Carrera RSR

4th place 6h Zeltweg, Porsche 935

3rd place 6h Monza, Porsche 934

 

1978

3rd place 1,000km Nürburgring, Porsche 934

 

1979

3rd place 6h Riverside, Porsche 935

 

1980

2nd place 6h Vallelunga, Porsche 908/03

 

1981

2nd place 24h Daytona, Porsche 935

1st place 24h Le Mans, Porsche 936/81

1st place 500km Mid Ohio, Porsche 935

 

1982

2nd place 24h Daytona, Porsche 935

2nd place 6h Silverstone, Porsche 956

1st place 24h Le Mans, Porsche 956

2nd place 1,000km Spa, Porsche 956

1st place 6h Fuji, Porsche 956

1st place 1,000km Brands Hatch, Porsche 956

2nd place 9h Kyalami, Porsche 956

3rd place 3h Daytona, Porsche 935

 

1983

1st place Brands Hatch, Porsche 908/03 Turbo

1st place 6h Riverside, Porsche 935

1st place 1,000km Silverstone, Porsche 956

2nd place 24h Le Mans, Porsche 956

2nd place 1,000km Spa, Porsche 956

3rd place 1,000km Brands Hatch, Porsche 956

1st place 1,000km Fuji, Porsche 956

3rd place 1,000km Mugello, Porsche 956

1st place 1,000km Kyalami, Porsche 956

 

1984

2nd place 24h Daytona, Porsche 935

3rd place 12h Sebring, Porsche 935

1st place 1,000km Monza, Porsche 956

2nd place 6h Riverside, Porsche 962

1st place 500km Mid Ohio, Porsche 962

1st place 6h Watkins Glen, Porsche 962

1st place 1,000km Nürburgring, Porsche 956

3rd place 3h Portland, Porsche 962

1st place 500 Miles Road America, Porsche 962

1st place 1,000km Spa, Porsche 956

1st place 500km Pocono, Porsche 962

1st place 1,000km Fuji, Porsche 956

1st place 3h Daytona, Porsche 962

1st place 1,000km Sandown, Porsche 956

 

 

1985

2nd place 24h Daytona, Porsche 962

1st place 3h Miami, Porsche 962

2nd place 12h Sebring, Porsche 962

2nd place 1,000km Monza, Porsche 956

2nd place 1,000km Silverstone, Porsche 956

1st place 500km Charlotte, Porsche 962

1st place 500km Mid Ohio, Porsche 962

3rd place 24h Le Mans, Porsche 962

1st place 3h Watkins Glen, Porsche 962

1st place 1,000km Hockenheim, Porsche 962

1st place 1,000km Mosport, Porsche 962

2nd place 1,000km Spa, Porsche 962

1st place 500km Ponoco, Porsche 962

1st place 1,000km Brands Hatch, Porsche 962

1st place 500km Watkins Glen, Porsche 962

 

1986

1st place 24h Daytona, Porsche 962

3rd place 12h Sebring, Porsche 962

3rd place 500km Road Atlanta, Porsche 962

1st place 360km Monza, Porsche 962

2nd place 1,000km Silverstone, Porsche 962

1st place 24h Le Mans, Porsche 962

1st place 500km Mid Ohio, Porsche 962

3rd place Supercup Hockenheim, Porsche 956

1st place 500km Watkins Glen, Porsche 962

2nd place 1,000km Brands Hatch, Porsche 956

2nd place 300km Sears Point, Porsche 962

2nd place 1,000km Nürburgring, Porsche 962

3rd place 1,000km Spa, Porsche 962

2nd place 500km Watkins Glen, Porsche 962

 

1987

1st place 24h Daytona, Porsche 962

2nd place 360km Jarama, Porsche 962

3rd place 1,000km Jerez, Porsche 962

2nd place 1,000km Monza, Porsche 962

3rd place 1,000km Silverstone, Porsche 962

1st place 24h Le Mans, Porsche 962

2nd place 3h West Palm Beach, Porsche 962

3rd place 500Miles Road America, Porsche 962

2nd place 1,000km Nürburgring, Porsche 962

1st place 3h San Antonio, Porsche 962

 

 

1988

3rd place 500km Road Atlanta, Porsche 962

2nd place 24h Le Mans, Porsche 962

2nd place 500km Watkins Glen, Porsche 962

2nd place 500km Road America, Porsche 962

 

1989

1st place 24h Daytona, Porsche 962

 

 

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