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No. 64 Porsche 908 LH of Hans Herrmann/Gérard Larrousse followed by the No. 6 Ford GT40 of Jacky Ickx/Jackie Oliver
Le Mans 24 Hours, 14-15 June 1969: On the final lap, the No. 64 Porsche 908 LH of Hans Herrmann/Gérard Larrousse swapped places with the No. 6 Ford GT40 of Jacky Ickx/Jackie Oliver as many as five times. The two cars were so evenly matched that what the Ford lacked in straight-line speed it made up for in the corners, only to be passed again by the Porsche on the straights. The winning margin of 120 yards remains the closest finish in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours

On 15 June 1969, Jacky Ickx crossed the finish line in the 37th Le Mans 24 Hours a matter of 120 yards ahead of Hans Herrmann, to win the coveted trophy for the first time. He was driving a 5-litre V8 powered Ford GT40, a car first raced back in 1964, but significantly updated in the intervening years. Right on his tail came Hans Herrmann in the 3-litre Porsche 908 LH. This is the closest finish between adversaries in the history of this great race, although cars from the same manufacturer have frequently crossed the finish line together in a staged formation to maximise the PR or marketing value of photographs that circulate in the press afterwards.

No. 6 Ford GT40 of Ickx/Oliver is chased by the No. 12 Porsche 917 of Vic Elford/Richard Attwood
Le Mans 24 Hours, 14-15 June 1969: Until its retirement, the Le Mans 24 Hours, 14-15 June 1969: Until its retirement, the No. 12 Porsche 917 of Vic Elford/Richard Attwood controlled the race and by 10h00 on Sunday morning it held a ten lap advantage over the No. 6 Ford GT40 of Ickx/Oliver. However, Le Mans is all about endurance as well as speed, and on lap 327 the Porsche succumbed to a failed clutch. However, Le Mans is all about endurance as well as speed, and on lap 327 the Porsche succumbed to a failed clutch

What the results column does not tell you, though, is that Ickx and Herrmann swapped the lead several times each lap during the last hour, making this one of the most nail-biting finishes in the race’s history. The Porsche was powered by an engine a little more than half the size of the Ford’s and with much less grunt, but thanks to superior aerodynamics, the Porsche was more than a match for the Ford. In the final analysis, it was a contest between the 5-litre 460 bhp V8 Ford and the 3-litre 360 bhp flat-8 Porsche, and although the Ford was victorious, there was precious little in it, as the two cars were just seconds apart after 24 hours of hard racing!

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