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Bob Wollek in 1976

Bob Wollek[1] (4 November 1943 – 16 March 2001), nicknamed "Brilliant Bob", was a race car driver from Strasbourg, France. He was killed on 16 March 2001 at age 57 in a road accident in Florida while riding a bicycle back to his accommodation after the day's practice sessions for the following day's race, the 12 Hours of Sebring. He won an amazing 76 races in his career, 71 of which on Porsche cars.

Contents

Skiing careerEdit

Bob Wollek
Medal record
Men's Skiing
Representing   France
Winter Universiade
  1966 Sestriere Men's Downhill
  1966 Sestriere Men's Giant Slalom
  1966 Sestriere Men's Combined
  1966 Sestriere Men's Slalom
  1968 Innsbruck Men's Combined

Prior to his racing days as a university student, Wollek was also a member of the French National Skiing Team between 1966-1968 competing in the Winter Universiade, he won three gold and two silver medals altogether (see table on the right)[2]

His skiing career came to an end when he was injured during preparations for the Winter Olympics.[3]

Early racing careerEdit

Prior to a skiing accident which ended his skiing career, Wollek began racing cars when he entered the Mont-Blanc Rally in 1967 driving a Renault 8 Gordini and won. The following year, when his skiing career ended, he started his racing career when he entered a Volant Shell scholarship race taking place at the Le Mans' Bugatti Circuit, finishing runner-up to François Migault. Wollek later entered the Alpine Trophy Le Mans which he won, earning himself a place for the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans where he finished 11th overall and 2nd in class on his debut driving an Alpine A210.[3]

In 1969, Wollek made his debut in single seater racing competing in Formula France before graduating to the French Formula Three Championship.

During a round at Rouen-Les-Essarts, Wollek was involved in a fatal accident which killed Jean-Luc Salomon,[4] when the pair plus Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, Richard Scott and Mike Beuttler were all fighting for the lead at Scierie, where the track is a two-lane road.

In 1971, Wollek switched to Formula Two driving for Ron Dennis's Rondel Racing.[3][5] Despite a shaky start with only one point that year,[6] he improved his performance for the following year with a single win at Imola and 21 points, placing him seventh.[7] Despite this success, he abandoned his Formula One ambition to concentrate on sportscar racing where he would become one of the most recognizable names in the sport.

Sportscar racingEdit

 
Bob Wollek in a Kremer-Porsche 935K2 at the 1000km Nürburgring in Germany (1977)

During his three decades of sports car racing, almost exclusively in Porsches, he won the 24 Hours of Daytona four times (1983, 1985, 1989, 1991) and the DRM in 1982 and 1983, with the Porsche 936 and Porsche 956 entered by the Joest Racing team. In the mid-1970s, he raced a Porsche 935K2 improved and entered by the Kremer Racing team from Cologne.

For many years, Monsieur Porsche challenged the factory team with privately entered cars, but was also hired to become part of the official Porsche Le Mans team in 1978, 1979, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1996, 1997, and 1998. In 1981, he even raced a Group C-spec Kremer-built Porsche 917, about a decade after these cars were retired initially.

Wollek never won the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall, despite coming close in a few of his thirty attempts. In 1997, his leading factory-entered Porsche 911 GT1 suffered damage in a minor incident, so the car had to be retired. In 1998, Porsche scored a 1-2 win, but Bob was once again on the less-lucky runner-up car.

After the 1998 season, Porsche retired its GT1 cars from the Mercedes-dominated FIA GT Championship, providing only Porsche 911 based cars for the lower GT classes. In 2000, Wollek scored many class wins in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in a Porsche 996 GT3. The last race Wollek entered was the 2001 12 Hours of Sebring in a Porsche 996 GT3-RS. Wollek had already won there in 1985 with A. J. Foyt, driving a Porsche 962. Despite being over 50 years of age and still racing competitively, Wollek had developed a fitness regime of riding bicycles to stay in good physical condition, especially for the longer races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to which he rode from home across France.

Typical of many other racing drivers, Bob ran a car dealership for Jaguar.[8]

DeathEdit

On Friday 16 March 2001, while leaving Sebring International Raceway following practice for the 12 Hours of Sebring, Wollek continued a tradition of cycling between the circuit and his accommodation, which took him west on Highway 98. While he had been riding close to the edge of the pavement, he was struck from behind by a van driven by an elderly driver from Okeechobee, Florida at approximately 4:30 p.m.[9][10] He was transported to Highlands Regional Medical Center in Sebring and was pronounced dead on arrival. Wollek was due to start in the Petersen Motorsports Porsche 996 GT3-RS with Johnny Mowlem and Michael Petersen,[10] however out of respect the car was withdrawn from the race.[11] On race day, the organizers held a one-minute silence in memory of Wollek. Prior to his death, he announced he would retire from racing to serve as an ambassador for Porsche, and was due to sign this agreement upon returning home after Sebring.

Racing recordEdit

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans resultsEdit

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
Pos.
1968   Trophée Le Mans   Christian Ethuin Alpine A210 P
1.3
282 11th 2nd
1969   Société des Automobiles Alpine   Jean-Claude Killy Alpine A210 P
1.6
242 DNF DNF
1973   Equipe Matra-Simca Shell   Patrick Depailler Matra-Simca MS670B S
3.0
84 DNF DNF
1974   Équipe Gitanes   Jean-Pierre Jaussaud
  José Dolhem
Matra-Simca MS670B S
3.0
120 DNF DNF
1975   Écurie Buchet - Cyril Grandet   Cyril Grandet Porsche 911 GT
Ser.
293 DSQ DSQ
1976   Porsche Kremer Racing   Didier Pironi
  Marie-Claude Charmasson
Porsche 934 GT 270 19th 4th
1977   Porsche Kremer Racing   Jean-Pierre Wielemans
  Philippe Gurdjian
Porsche 934 GT 298 7th 1st
1978   Martini Racing Porsche System   Jacky Ickx
  Jürgen Barth
Porsche 936/78 S
+2.0
364 2nd 2nd
1979   Essex Motorsport Porsche   Hurley Haywood Porsche 936 S
+2.0
236 DNF DNF
1980   Gelo Racing Team   Helmut Kelleners Porsche 935 Gr.5 191 DNF DNF
1981   Porsche Kremer Racing   Xavier Lapeyre
  Guy Chasseuil
Porsche 917K/81 S
+2.0
82 DNF DNF
1982   Belga Team Joest Racing   Jean-Michel Martin
  Philippe Martin
Porsche 936C C 320 DNF DNF
1983   Sorga S.A. Joest Racing   Klaus Ludwig
  Stefan Johansson
Porsche 956 C 354 6th 6th
1984   Martini Racing   Alessandro Nannini Lancia LC2-Ferrari C1 326 8th 8th
1985   Martini Racing   Alessandro Nannini
  Lucio Cesario
Lancia LC2-Ferrari C1 360 6th 6th
1986   Rothmans Porsche   Jochen Mass
  Vern Schuppan
Porsche 962C C1 180 DNF DNF
1987   Rothmans Porsche AG   Jochen Mass
  Vern Schuppan
Porsche 962C C1 16 DNF DNF
1988   Porsche AG   Sarel van der Merwe
  Vern Schuppan
Porsche 962C C1 192 DNF DNF
1989   Joest Racing   Hans-Joachim Stuck Porsche 962C C1 382 3rd 3rd
1990   Joest Porsche Racing   Louis Krages
  Stanley Dickens
Porsche 962C C1 346 8th 8th
  Joest Porsche Racing   Jonathan Palmer
  Philippe Alliot
Porsche 962C C1 - DNS DNS
1991   Silk Cut Jaguar
  Tom Walkinshaw Racing
  Teo Fabi
  Kenny Acheson
Jaguar XJR-12 C2 358 3rd 3rd
1992   Courage Compétition   Henri Pescarolo
  Jean-Louis Ricci
Cougar C28LM-Porsche C3 335 6th 1st
1993   Joest Porsche Racing   Henri Pescarolo
  Ronny Meixner
Porsche 962C C2 351 9th 4th
1994   Nisso Trust Racing Team   Steven Andskär
  George Fouché
Toyota 94C-V LMP1
/C90
328 4th 2nd
1995   Courage Compétition   Éric Hélary
  Mario Andretti
Courage C34-Porsche WSC 297 2nd 1st
1996   Porsche AG   Hans-Joachim Stuck
  Thierry Boutsen
Porsche 911 GT1 GT1 353 2nd 1st
1997   Porsche AG   Hans-Joachim Stuck
  Thierry Boutsen
Porsche 911 GT1 GT1 238 DNF DNF
1998   Porsche AG   Jörg Müller
  Uwe Alzen
Porsche 911 GT1-98 GT1 350 2nd 2nd
1999   Champion Racing   Dirk Müller
  Bernd Mayländer
Porsche 911 GT3-R GT 292 19th 2nd
2000   Dick Barbour Racing   Dirk Müller
  Lucas Luhr
Porsche 911 GT3-R GT 319 DSQ DSQ

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ HickokSports.com - History - World University Games Alpine Skiing Medalists
  3. ^ a b c Top 100[dead link]
  4. ^ 8W - Where? - Rouen-les-Essarts
  5. ^ OldRacingCars.info » Brabham BT36
  6. ^ Formula 2 1971 - Championship Tables
  7. ^ Formula 2 1972 - Final Tables Archived 2017-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Aysedasi
  9. ^ Sunday Telegraph, 18 March 2001
  10. ^ a b Bob Wollek, racing driver, 56 Archived 2007-03-08 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Elsewhere in Racing: Updates from the Rest of the Racing World