Well, no. But that may explain why the fastest of the new breed cars, the only Jaguar equipped with a 3.5-liter engine, was such a paper tiger that it wasn't even equipped with headlights, not a terribly inspiring sight on the front row of a race that for at least six hours was to be run in total darkness. Fortunately, that car, which Jaguar had at Le Mans merely for a photo op, was withdrawn shortly before the start. The Peugeot that started on the alleged pole flamb�ed any chances it might have had during its first pit stop, when it caught fire, momentarily engulfing driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille in flames. Jabouille drove off, apparently unsinged, but the Peugeot expired after 22 laps.
The first all-woman team at Le Mans, led by American driver Lynn St. James, turned up in a hot-pink Spice-Ford. The team was assembled by a Japanese woman who insisted not only on the pink car but also on a Japanese chief mechanic, who couldn't communicate with any of the three drivers or most of the crew. "Two things I swore I'd never do in my career were to drive on an all-woman team and to drive a pink car," said St. James before the race. "But here I am." And after 47 laps, there she went, her car a victim of myriad mechanical ailments.
St. James didn't last long enough to see the rising sun at Le Mans on Sunday morning, but she saw it during her first appearance there two years ago. "It was the first time I'd ever been on a racetrack when I wanted to stop and take a picture," she recalled. "The sun was coming up over the Dunlop Bridge, and it was breathtaking. I turned my fastest lap of the race just trying to get back to the same spot to recapture that moment. That kind of thing digs very deep into your gut."
By Sunday afternoon, it was the rising sun of Japan that had risen over Le Mans, with a howling contingent of Mazdas finishing first, sixth and eighth. The lead car, driven by Weidler and fellow Formula One drivers Johnny Herbert and Bertrand Gachot, covered 362 laps (3,058.9 miles), two more than Jones's Jaguar. "I think we surprised everybody," said Ickx. "We even surprised ourselves."