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Bob Wollek

Bob Wollek in 1976

Bob Wollek[1] (4 November 1943–March 16, 2001), nicknamed "Brilliant Bob", was a race car driver from Strasbourg, France. He was killed on March 16, 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.

Skiing career

Bob Wollek
Medal record
Men's Skiing
Competitor for 23x15px France
Winter Universiade
Gold medal – first place 1966 Sestriere Men's Downhill
Gold medal – first place 1966 Sestriere Men's Giant Slalom
Gold medal – first place 1966 Sestriere Men's Combined
Silver medal – second place 1966 Sestriere Men's Slalom
Silver medal – second place 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 career

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 racing

File:1977-05-29 Bob Wollek, Porsche 935.jpg
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, as he was only hired to become part of the official Porsche Le Mans team four times (1978, 1979, 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 managed to win 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]


On Friday, March 16, 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 record

Complete 24 Hours of Le Mans results

Year Team Co-Drivers Car Class Laps Pos. Class
1968 23x15px Trophée Le Mans 23x15px Christian Ethuin Alpine A210 P
282 11th 2nd
1969 23x15px Société des Automobiles Alpine 23x15px Jean-Claude Killy Alpine A210 P
1973 23x15px Equipe Matra-Simca Shell 23x15px Patrick Depailler Matra-Simca MS670B S
1974 23x15px Équipe Gitanes 23x15px Jean-Pierre Jaussaud
23x15px José Dolhem
Matra-Simca MS670B S
1975 23x15px Écurie Buchet - Cyril Grandet 23x15px Cyril Grandet Porsche 911 GT
1976 23x15px Porsche Kremer Racing 23x15px Didier Pironi
23x15px Marie-Claude Charmasson
Porsche 934 GT 270 19th 4th
1977 23x15px Porsche Kremer Racing 23x15px Jean-Pierre Wielemans
23x15px Philippe Gurdjian
Porsche 934 GT 298 7th 1st
1978 23x15px Martini Racing Porsche System 23x15px Jacky Ickx
23x15px Jürgen Barth
Porsche 936/78 S
364 2nd 2nd
1979 23x15px Essex Motorsport Porsche 23x15px Hurley Haywood Porsche 936 S
1980 23x15px Gelo Racing Team 23x15px Helmut Kelleners Porsche 935 Gr.5 191 DNF DNF
1981 23x15px Porsche Kremer Racing 23x15px Xavier Lapeyre
23x15px Guy Chasseuil
Porsche 917K/81 S
1982 23x15px Belga Team Joest Racing 23x15px Jean-Michel Martin
23x15px Philippe Martin
Porsche 936C C 320 DNF DNF
1983 23x15px Sorga S.A. Joest Racing 23x15px Klaus Ludwig
23x15px Stefan Johansson
Porsche 956 C 354 6th 6th
1984 23x15px Martini Racing 23x15px Alessandro Nannini Lancia LC2-Ferrari C1 326 8th 8th
1985 23x15px Martini Racing 23x15px Alessandro Nannini
23x15px Lucio Cesario
Lancia LC2-Ferrari C1 360 6th 6th
1986 23x15px Rothmans Porsche 23x15px Jochen Mass
23x15px Vern Schuppan
Porsche 962C C1 180 DNF DNF
1987 23x15px Rothmans Porsche AG 23x15px Jochen Mass
23x15px Vern Schuppan
Porsche 962C C1 16 DNF DNF
1988 23x15px Porsche AG 23x15px Sarel van der Merwe
23x15px Vern Schuppan
Porsche 962C C1 192 DNF DNF
1989 23x15px Joest Racing 23x15px Hans-Joachim Stuck Porsche 962C C1 382 3rd 3rd
1990 23x15px Joest Porsche Racing 23x15px Louis Krages
23x15px Stanley Dickens
Porsche 962C C1 346 8th 8th
23x15px Joest Porsche Racing 23x15px Jonathan Palmer
23x15px Philippe Alliot
Porsche 962C C1 - DNS DNS
1991 23x15px Silk Cut Jaguar
23x15px Tom Walkinshaw Racing
23x15px Teo Fabi
23x15px Kenny Acheson
Jaguar XJR-12 C2 358 3rd 3rd
1992 23x15px Courage Compétition 23x15px Henri Pescarolo
23x15px Jean-Louis Ricci
Cougar C28LM-Porsche C3 335 6th 1st
1993 23x15px Joest Porsche Racing 23x15px Henri Pescarolo
23x15px Ronny Meixner
Porsche 962C C2 351 9th 4th
1994 Template:Country data JPN Nisso Trust Racing Team 23x15px Steven Andskär
23x15px George Fouché
Toyota 94C-V LMP1
328 4th 2nd
1995 23x15px Courage Compétition 23x15px Eric Hélary
23x15px Mario Andretti
Courage C34-Porsche WSC 297 2nd 1st
1996 23x15px Porsche AG 23x15px Hans Joachim Stuck
23x15px Thierry Boutsen
Porsche 911 GT1 GT1 353 2nd 1st
1997 23x15px Porsche AG 23x15px Hans Joachim Stuck
23x15px Thierry Boutsen
Porsche 911 GT1 GT1 238 DNF DNF
1998 23x15px Porsche AG 23x15px Jörg Müller
23x15px Uwe Alzen
Porsche 911 GT1-98 GT1 350 2nd 2nd
1999 23x15px Champion Racing 23x15px Dirk Müller
23x15px Bernd Mayländer
Porsche 911 GT3-R GT 292 19th 2nd
2000 23x15px Dick Barbour Racing 23x15px Dirk Müller
23x15px Lucas Luhr
Porsche 911 GT3-R GT 319 DSQ DSQ

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