Jean-Pierre Beltoise

Jean-Pierre Beltoise

26/4/1937 - 5/1/2015

Jean-Pierre Beltoise was a Grand Prix motorcycle racer who won 11 national motorcycle titles before he switched to racing cars. He graduated to Formula One in 1968 racing for Matra. Later he drove for BRM, taking their final GP win at Monaco in 1972.

Born Jean-Pierre Maurice George Beltoise, the son of a Paris Butcher, he won 11 national motorcycle titles between 1961 and 1964, while working for the Rene Bonnet team as a mechanic. He also competed in International Grand Prix motorcycle racing between 1962 and 1964 in the 50, 125 and 250cc classes, with a best finish of sixth in the 1964 50cc World Championship.

In 1963 he turned to four wheels and raced a 1.1-litre Rene Bonnet sports car, making his debut at Le Mans, winning the Index of Performance.

In 1964 his career nearly came to an end when a huge accident at Reims left him with burns and multiple injuries, the most serious of which was a left arm so badly broken that its movement was permanently restricted.

Nevertheless he was back in 1965 racing the F3 Matra, the aerospace company having taken over the Rene Bonnet concern, and scored a great first win for the marque at Reims. His pre-eminence in this formula was later to be confirmed when he won the 1966 Monaco F3 race and all four rounds of the Argentine Temporada series early in 1967. This success encouraged Matra to continue with their racing activities and Beltoise was the spearhead of the team's Formula 2 programme from 1966, winning the F2 class at the German GP and later the European F2 championship for non-graded drivers in 1968, when he won rounds at Hockenheim, Jarama and Zandvoort.

Although he contested a number of Grands Prix in a ballasted F2 Matra, Beltoise had to wait until early 1968 to get his hands on the team's raucous V12-engined car. He took second place in the rain-soaked Dutch Grand Prix and set the fastest lap.

In 1969 he was recruited by Ken Tyrrell to join the Matra team as number two to Stewart while development work was undertaken on the V12 project. He scored seven point-scoring finishes. The following season he raced the new Matra MS120-V12 and was unlucky not to win the French GP when a puncture robbed him of the lead. Although Jean-Pierre had done well enough on occasion, Matra signed Amon for 1971, frustrating the Frenchman's F1 aspirations. It was not a good year for Beltoise in other ways as he received a suspension to his International Licence when he was blamed for his involvement in the fatal accident that befell Ignazio Giunti in the Buenos Aires 1000 Km.

In 1972 he joined the Marlboro BRM team and took the British marque's final Grand Prix win at Monaco in heavy rain. Second place in the International Trophy and a win in the John Player Victory race at Brands Hatch merely disguised the team's imminent decline, but Beltoise stayed on until 1974, with a fantastic drive to second place at Kyalami in the P201, the only highlight of his final season with the team.

In 1974 Jean-Pierre enjoyed a tremendous year in sports car racing, winning at the Nurburgring, Watkins Glen, Paul Ricard and Brands Hatch. He later did most of the testing for the Ligier F1 team and later still, when Jacques Laffite got the drive, he turned his attention to touring car racing in France winning the French title twice for BMW before entering rallycross in an Alpine-Renault with which he won the French title.

In 1981 he returned to touring cars and raced for Peugeot throughout the 1980s.

He is married to Francois Cevert's sister Jacqueline and now runs a kart track in Paris. He was involved in ice racing and a variety of other racing activities including helping Julien and Anthony, his sons, and their racing.

Beltoise died at his holiday home in Dakar, Senegal, on 5 January 2015, aged 77, following two strokes

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