Yannick Dalmas, the four-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner and occasional Grand Prix driver, is today celebrating his 51st birthday!
Dubbed (unhelpfully, it turned out) by many pundits as ‘The New Alain Prost’ as he made his way up the motorsport ranks, this Toulon-born youngster caught the motor racing bug when he won a Paul Ricard saloon car race as a teenager, where he was awarded the winner’s trophy by no less than François Cevert.
With the fire now well and truly burning, young Yannick jumped to motocross before a bad leg injury saw him switch to the more steady four-wheeled competition. He won a Marlboro-backed young talent scheme and finished third in his maiden season open-wheel competition: French Formula Renault. He won the title the year after that and moved to French Formula 3, narrowly missing out on the title to team-mate Pierre-Henri Raphanel.
In 1986, he won the national crown – along with the Monaco Grand Prix support race – and jumped into Formula 3000 by the end of the year, contesting a full-time season the following year where he finished fifth overall.
He stayed with the team the following year, but results were thin and he missed the final races with a bout of Legionnaires Disease. He rejoined the team the following year, but he was off the boil and found himself dropped in favour of Michele Alboreto by the mid-year.
He switched to the little AGS squad, remaining there until the end of the 1990 season, later joining Peugeot’s sports car squad.
He won the 1992 and 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours with the outfit, and backed that up with a third win in 1995 behind the wheel of a McLaren F1-GTR. This would later be followed up with a fourth triumph, in 1999, with the BMW squad, winning alongside Jo Winkelhock and Pierluigi Martini.
In between, Dalmas made a brief return to the Larrousse team – by now desperately short of cash – for a couple of races in 1994, but he was unable to stop the team’s eventual demise at the end of the season.
[Images via F1 Nostalgia and F1 Rejects]