Gérard Larrousse

Rédaction : Albert Lallement  


After an international career as a driver in many different disciplines, Gérard Larrousse distinguished himself as a Sports Director and then as a Team Boss.

In the late 1960s, he was one of the pillars of the Alpine team for which he was factory driver for two seasons. At the wheel of the A110 Berlinette, he scored numerous victories, most of them together with his co-driver Marcel Callevaert. After more than 13 successful years behind the wheel, Gérard Larrousse put an end to his racing career and moved across the fence to take charge of the Régie Renault's racing department.

Gérard Larrousse won many endurance races, like this one in Enna-Pergusa, on August 11, 1974, with his Alpine A441 of the Switzerland-Archambeaud Team. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Renault D.R. / Archives et Collections

Born on 23 May 1940 in Lyon, Gérard Larrousse studied at the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris until 1964. Very early on, he developed a passion for competitive racing and took part in his first amateur race in the Rallye des Lions in February 1961 with a Simca Aronde. In 1962, he bought a Renault Dauphine 1093 and achieved his first hill-climbing successes with it. In 1965, it was with a Renault 8 Gordini that he raced and garnered his first international success by winning the Touring class in the Critérium des Cévennes. The following year, the NSU France hired him and the doors to a professional career were opened....

Gérard Larrousse (here at the wheel) and Jean-Pierre Jabouille at the 1947 Nürburgring 1,000 Kilometers where they finished 4th in the Alpine A442. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Renault D.R. / Archives et Collections 

A great track record

Noticed by Jean Rédélé, he was hired as an official Alpine driver during 1967 and 1968, alongside the best drivers of the time such as Jean Vinatier and Jean-Claude Andruet. At the wheel of the A110 Berlinette, he won no less than 20 races during these two seasons and finished 2nd in the 1967 French rally championship. Gérard Larrousse's other achievements include the Tour Auto, which he won in 1969 (Porsche 911), in 1971 (Matra MS 650) and in 1974 (Ligier JS2). He also won the 12 hours of Sebring and the 1,000 km of the Nürburgring in 1971 as well as the Targa Florio in 1974. He finished 2nd in the 1969 and 1972 Monte Carlo Rally (Porsche 911) and was crowned French Circuit Champion six times from 1969 to 1974. The following season, he entered the European F2 Championship in the Elf-Swiss team he co-founded with Jean-Pierre Jabouille, who designed the Elf 2 single-seater. He won his first race at Hockenheim and finished 2nd at Enna and Silverstone, finishing 4th in the drivers' championship and the Elf team winning the Constructors' Championship.

Gérard Larrousse with Patrick Tambay (left) and Derek Warwick, the two drivers from the Renault team that competed in the 1984 and 1985 Formula 1 World Championship.  © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©  Renault D.R. / Archives et Collections

On the other side of the fence 

Even during this period, Gérard Larrousse did not abandon the Sports Prototypes and continued to glorify behind the wheel of the Alpine Renault A441 and A442 and the Matra-Simca MS 670 in the World Championship of Automobile Manufacturers. After the 1975 season, in order to head the Régie's racing department, he ended his professional career as a driver. The new Elf 2, powered by the Renault 2-litre V6, won the European Constructors' F2 Championship in his first year in charge of Renault Sport, while Jean-Pierre Jabouille won the Drivers' Championship. Moreover, under his leadership, several major successes were achieved in Endurance racing, starting with Pironi and Jaussaud's victory in 1978 in the turbocharged Alpine-Renault A442. At the same time, he was asked to promote this revolutionary technology in Formula 1. This was to be the fabulous success of the RS01, which had its start at the 1977 Silverstone Grand Prix, with Jean-Pierre Jabouille winning the French Grand Prix two years later. Under his leadership, the Renault F1 team achieved excellent results in the World Championship. During the eight seasons that he was in charge, from 1977 to 1984, Renault won 15 Grands Prix, captured 31 pole positions and scored 296 points in the World Championship. The best performance in the Constructors' Championship was second place in 1983, the year Alain Prost missed out on the drivers' title with just two points behind Nelson Piquet. 

The mechanics of Alpine are busy with the A110 1300 Berlinette of Gérard Larrousse and Marcel Callevaert during the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally, where they finished 48th. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©  Renault D.R. / Archives et Collections

Team boss 

Despite the positive development, the Renault team did not recover from the defeat at the 1983 World Championship and the following season was particularly difficult for Gérard Larrousse to handle. He felt that he no longer had a free hand in running Renault Sport and was tired of the internal disputes. He eventually left at the end of 1984 with engineer Michel Tétu to join Ligier, where he was appointed Sporting Director. Under his leadership, the French team regained its former glory by finishing 6th in 1985 and 5th in 1986 at the F1 World Championship. Thinking it was time for his own structure in Formula 1, he founded the Larrousse-Calmels team with businessman Didier Calmels in 1987. This adventure with irregular successes ended in 1994. Henceforth, Gérard Larrousse competes in historic car races with the same passion that has driven him for decades.

For more information...

The Larrousse F1 team

In 1987, former Renault racing driver and sporting director Gérard Larrousse launched his own Formula 1 team in partnership with businessman Didier Calmels. The team's chassis was supplied by Lola, the engine was a Ford-Cosworth and the two drivers were Frenchmen Philippe Alliot and Yannick Dalmas. The first year was relatively satisfactory, with three 6th-place results for Alliot, but the euphoria was short-lived, as the next two seasons saw only one point scored at the 1989 GP of Spain. The team became Larrousse that year, following the departure of Didier Calmels, and engaged the services of engineer Gérard Ducarouge and utilised a V12 engine from Lamborghini. But the team, renamed Venturi in 1992, never managed to get off the ground and stopped racing at the end of the 1994 season.

From 1987 to 1994, the Larrousse team's drivers (pictured here is the 1990 LC89B) scored 23 points in 48 Grands Prix contesting the F1 World Championship. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©   Renault D.R. / Archives et Collections

Two victories at Le Mans

Gérard Larrousse contested the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time in 1967, at the wheel of a factory Alpine A210 with Patrick Depailler (withdrawal). He went on to become a great specialist in the event, taking part eight times. He won the 1973 and 1974 editions in a Matra-Simca MS 670 B with Henri Pescarolo. He also came 2nd in 1969 in a Porsche 908 (Écurie Porsche System Engineering) shared with Hans Herrmann, and in 1970 in a Porsche 917 LH (International Martini Racing Team) with Willy Kauhsen. But this race also left him with painful memories when his friend Jo Bonnier died in the Lola-Ford T280 they shared with Gijs Van Lennep in 1972.

A glorious day for Matra and its two drivers Gérard Larrousse and Henri Pescarolo, who took their second consecutive victory in the 1974 Le Mans 24 Hours. © IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©  Renault D.R. / Archives et Collections

Alpine's factory driver

Noted by Jean Rédélé, Alpine's managing director, Gérard Larrousse became a factory driver for the Dieppe-based car manufacturer starting from the 1967 season. He made it to the podium twenty-six times in the 1967 and 1968 Rallye (twenty wins) as driver of the Berlinette A110 and, together with his loyal teammate Marcel Callewaert, became one of the pillars of the team. Results in Endurance racing were more irregular, but two consecutive years (1968 and 1969) he was included in the powerful Alpine Armada participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. During the 1967 edition, he formed a team with Patrick Depailler driving an A210, which dropped out in the 17th hour due to a broken distribution mechanism. A year later, he formed a team with Henry Grandsire in an A220, but disaster struck: the car crashed during the 7th hour of the race.

At the 1968 Le Mans 24 Hours, the Alpine factory team lined up no less than seven cars! Gérard Larrousse can be seen on the right next to his team mate Grandsire, together with the boss, Jean Rédélé, in a grey suit.© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo © Renault D.R. / Archives et Collections

New adventures

At a press conference on 21 July 1976, Gérard Larrousse presented Renault Sport's future objectives: with priority given to winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans (achieved in 1978) and developing the Turbo in Formula 1. Soon the idea was implemented and on 9 May 1977 Renault Sport presented its F1 single-seater. The model was named RS01 and was no longer an Alpine, as Renault had decided to take over the development and operation of the F1 programme. The first project launched in 1975 was called Laboratory A500 with a hybrid F2-F1 chassis subcontracted by Jean Terramorsi to André de Cortanze at Alpine. On 16 July 1977, the modest yellow single seater competed in its first Grand Prix at Silverstone. It was hard to imagine that it would radically change the world of Formula 1 for more than a decade ...

At the official presentation of the first Renault Formula 1 car, the entire Viry-Châtillon staff was present.© IXO Collections SAS - Tous droits réservés. Crédits photo ©  Renault D.R. / Archives et Collections


Gérard Larousse is an extraordinary driver who distinguished himself at the highest level in almost all disciplines of motorsport. But Formula 1 was never favourable to him and the only World Championship race he competed in provided no lasting memory. On 12 May 1974, he competed in the Belgian Grand Prix at the Nivelles circuit at the wheel of a Brabham-Ford BT42 owned by Scuderia Finotto. Starting from a 28th position down the grid, he managed to show glimpses of his driving ability in spite of rapidly deteriorating tyres. He crashed out on lap 52 with a broken rear hub and made a second attempt two months later at the French Grand Prix, but failed to qualify.


Gérard Larrousse succeeded Jean Terramorsi as head of Renault's Racing division on 1 January 1976. This entity would become Renault Sport on 12 April 1976, as a result of the merger with the sports activities of Alpine and Gordini, two divisions that already belonged to the company. Drawing on his experience as sport director with Archambeaud's teams in Sport-Prototypes and at Elf in F2, Larrousse set up the new structure, which was based in Viry-Châtillon. He surrounded himself with François Castaing as Technical Director, as well as François-Xavier Delfosse in charge of Prototype development in collaboration with Marcel Hubert. Soon, their team was joined by two loyal teammates from Elf-Switzerland: Jean-Pierre Jabouille in charge of testing and Jean Sage responsible for sports management.

Articles récents

Share this post

100% Secure payment 100% Secure payment
Secure packaging Secure packaging
Safe transport Safe transport
Flexible subsription Flexible subsription