Jean-Pierre Jaussaud has died at the age of 84. The Norman driver, born in Caen in 1937, was the son of a grocer and a wine merchant. When he was 10 his father taught him to drive on the airport runways at Caen.
In his early twenties he saw his first race at Rouen and decided that he would become a racing driver and began karting. His father put him in charge of the company’s fleet of vehicles and the first racing car Jaussaud drove was an AC Bristol, which he volunteered to collect from an airport and take to Caen on the back of a truck. However he found a way to give it a short run.
It was not until 1962 that he discovered from reading a racing magazine that there was a racing school run by Jim Russell at Snetterton. He went with a friend and was immediately hooked on the sport. Not long afterwards Jim Russell opened a racing school at Magny-Cours and Jaussaud took part and won the Volant Shell, a prize that won him a Cooper-BMC F3 car, although he destroyed it quite quickly in an accident.
He managed to keep going and in 1965 was taken on by Matra in Formula 3 and did well. There were opportunities to go to F1 and he hoped that Matra would take him into Grand Prix racing, although in the end he was overlooked by Matra and quit.
He joined Tecno and won the Monaco F3 race against top notch opposition. A few months later he was injured in a fiery F2 crash at Monza which didn’t help. In the years that followed he enjoyed success in both F3, winning the French title in 1970, and F2, finishing runner-up to Mike Hailwood with a Shell Arnold March in the European Championship in 1971. He was then 34 and too old for F1 but he joined the Alpine Renault team in sports cars and won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1978, partnering Didier Pironi.
The following year he won the French Production Car Championship in a Triumph Dolomite. He also took part in a British Championship Formula 1 event in a Surtees. In 1980 he was a test driver in F1 for Renault but also joined Jean Rondeau for Le Mans and won the race a second time.
In the years that followed he raced French production cars, took part in the Paris-Dakar, and then had a season of French Formula Ford! He also competed in rallycross and ice racing. A great all-rounder he continued to compete until 1992, after which he became a racing instructor.