Some sad news out of France came through on Sunday, as Guy Ligier passed away at age 85.
After his rugby playing career, Ligier was a driver in his own right, competing throughout the mid-to-late 1960s in Formula One, and also went onto race in sports cars including at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Where Ligier made his mark though was as a team owner and constructor. Based first in Ligier’s hometown of Vichy and later in Magny-Cours, the team was a staple on the F1 grid from 1976 through 1996. They won nine races, scored 50 podiums and achieved nearly 400 career points – which in those days was quite a decent haul in prior F1 points systems where 9 points occurred for a win, then 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 made up the minor placings.
Jacques Laffite scored the first Ligier win for the Matra-powered JS7 at the 1977 Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp, his first of six wins with the team. Patrick Depailler and Didier Pironi added a win apiece.
However the team’s dry spell lasted from the 1981 Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal, Laffite’s last Ligier victory, to Olivier Panis’ shock and iconic win in the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix – the team’s last year as a Constructor before Ligier sold to Alain Prost, and Panis’ only career victory.
In recent years the Ligier name has made a comeback as the chassis designation for Jacques Nicolet’s Onroak Automotive line of prototype cars. The Ligier JS P2 chassis has had a successful year-plus racing in both Europe and North America with the new Ligier JS P3 chassis, which debuted at Le Mans this year, set for a race debut later this year after a series of testing.
Ligier himself was present at the Ligier JS P3 launch (pictured left, with Nicolet), although did not appear in the best of health at that time.
We extend our sympathies and thoughts to Ligier’s family.