Franck Lagorce

Franck Lagorce

1/9/1968

After winning the French Junior Karting Championship at just 13 he seemed destined for F1. However after winning the French F3 Championship in 1992 and finishing runner up in F3000 in 1994, his F1 career never realy got going. A couple of races with Ligier before joining the ill fated Forti team was all he achieved.

Franck Lagorce is from L'Hay-Les-Roses near Paris. At just 13 years of age he became the French Junior Karting champion. After winning several trophies in 1982, and continuing in karts through 1983 and 1984, he was 10th in the 1985 World Junior Championship, and in 1986 he was 2nd in the European 125cc championship. A fairly lowly 7th in the French 125cc karting championship in 1987 suggested he might have been on the wane, but that was far from the case.
 
He started racing cars in Formula Ford in 1987 and took 2nd in the Volant Elkron Scholarship Award at Montlhery. This led to a full season in the French Formula Ford championship in 1988, finishing 5th in a Graff Racing Van Diemen 88 and Reynard 88. He best finish was 2nd at the Le Mans Bugatti track.

1989 saw Lagorce finish 4th in the Championship and in 1990 Franck moved up to French Formula Renault. Driving an Orion 90, he came 2nd with one win and 6 podiums.
 
In 1991 he moved to the French F3 Championship with the Promatecme team. Driving a Dallara F391 Opel he scored 81 points, taking 2 wins at Dijon and Magny-Cours on the way, to finish 4th overall. Then in 1992 he won the championship, taking wins at Ledenon, Dijon and Magny-Cours and scoring 100 points. He also showed his versatility by driving in the Porsche Carrera Cup.
1993 saw him move into F3000 with a Reynard 93D Cosworth run by the DAMS team along with eventual champion Olivier Panis. After a slow start he took wins in the final two rounds at Magny-Cours and Nogaro. This moved him up to equal 4th on 21 points. He switched to the Apomatox team for 1994 driving a Reynard 94D Cosworth.

For the first round at Silverstone he took pole, fastest lap and the win. 5th at Pau and Barcelona and a 2nd at Enna was followed by a win and fastest lap at Hockenheim. However from pole at Spa he only managed to finish 13th and at Estoril he was 8th and once again out of the points. At the final round at Magny-Cours, Lagorce was still in with a shot at the title. Franck was on pole but was passed by his Championship rival Jean-Christophe Boullion. Lagorce finished 2nd in the race and the championship, on 34 points.

He also made his Le Mans 24hrs debut in 1994 driving a Courage Competition C32 LM Porsche with Henri Pescarolo and Alain Ferté, retiring after 142 laps.

In September 1994 he was signed as a test driver by the Ligier F1 team. After a number of driver changes he was given a race seat for the final two races of the year.
 
At Suzuka he qualified a fine 20th, just half a second off the Panis in 19th and ahead of Michele Alboreto and Erik Comas.
In an appallingly wet race, Lagorce drove cautiously but after a brief spell behind the safety car, he spun coming out of the chicane without hitting anything, only to be collected by Pierluigi Martini's Minardi, the veteran Italian claiming that he couldn't see anything in the spray and mist. At the Australian Grand Prix on the streets of Adelaide, Lagorce again qualified 20th. Franck drove steadily ending up 2 laps down on Mansell in 11th.

Left without a F1 race drive in 1995 he was relegated back to a testing role. Then in 1996, when Pedro Diniz arrived, Lagorce was dropped completely. He joined the struggling Forti team as a test driver, supporting Andrea Montermini and Luca Badoer. However Forti were gone by mid-season and Lagorce's F1 career was over.
 
While in F1 Lagorce had continued to compete elsewhere, in 1995 in the Porsche Supercup race at Pau, and at Le Mans where he drove a Courage Chevrolet with Pescarolo and Bernard. In 1996 he raced in the Renault Spider Elf Trophy, winning the championship with victories at Barcelona, Magny Cours (twice), Hockenheim and Nogaro. At Le Mans he finished 7th with the La Filiére Courage C36 Porsche sharing with Pescarolo and Emmanuel Collard. He also competed in the Andros Trophy event in a Seat Cordoba.

In 1996 he set up a business venture, the FLF1 Competition Centre for slot cars just east of Paris. It is the largest commercial slot car track in Europe.

In 1997 he joined the DAMS team to drive a Panoz GTR Ford with Bernard in the FIA GT championship. However 7 retirements in 10 starts, including at Le Mans, led to a disappointing season.
 
1998 was a mixed year, in FIA GTs he made two starts in a Panoz GTR-1, taking 5th at Suzuka and 7th at the A1-Ring. He did some testing for Nissan's Le Mans effort, driving at the Sarthe classic he came 5th in a Nissan R390 GT1 with John Nielsen and Michael Krumm. He was also seen in touring cars, racing in the Spa round of the Belgian Procar championship, taking 3rd in a Renault Megane sharing with Vanina Ickx. He also drove in the Spa 24hr classic in another Renault Megane, again claiming 3rd but this time with Pierre-Yves Corthals and Kurt Mollekens.

In 1999 he again appeared in Belgian Procars, winning the Spa 4hrs with Corthals in a Renault Megane. In the Sports Racing World Cup and drove a Riley & Scott, retiring at Donington, the Nurburgring and Magny-Cours. He raced in the Andros Trophy, coming 19th in a Honda.

At Le Mans he was to drive for the AMG Mercedes-Benz team with Bernd Schneider and Pedro Lamy. 6th fastest in pre-qualifying, they then watched Mark Webber flip twice in one of the sister cars. They started the race but, when Peter Dumbreck also flipped after 5 hours, they sensibly withdrew.

For 2000 he joined the DAMS Cadillac Northstar LMP team but it turned out to be another dissapointing year. In 2001 he made one start in the French GT championship, finishing 9th at Pau. In sports prototype racing he joined the works Panoz Motorsports team driving a Panoz LMP07 once again with little to write home about. In ALMS he made six further starts partnering Graf in a Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S with a 4th at Sears Point the only result of any note.
 
He switched to the French Super Touring car Series in 2002.

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