Jean-Louis Schlesser

Jean-Louis Schlesser is a French racing driver. He was born in Nancy on September 12, 1098. He is known for having participated and won in numerous competitions. He took part in cross-country rallying as well as circuit racing. He also has a relative, a nephew, Jo Schlesser, who is now a Formula One driver.

Formula One

Before his return to France, where he studied and went to army, Schlesser spent his childhood years in Marocco. When in France, he started racing in different events and in 1978 he actually shared the shared the French Formula Three Championship with Alain Prost.

He also took part in the Le Mans 24 Hours, where he came the second, and he raced in the European Formula Three Championship as well.

In 1982 he became the Formula Two driver and in 1983 he failed to qualify for Formula One, when he took part in French Grand Prix in a RAM-Cosworth. Having driven the same car a week before, Schlesser managed to take the 6th place in the non-championship Race of Champions (Brands Hatch).

1988 Italian Grand Prix

In 1988 Schlesser finally managed to take part in a Formula One race and it was the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He participated as a part of Williams-Judd squad and was substituting Nigel Mansell.

One of the most memorable events is the collision of Ayrton Senna with Schlesser at the left-right chicane in Rettifilo.

As far as the picture can be reconstructed, with the two cars approaching the zone of chicane braking, Schlesser went to the right to make way for the Senna car, who was driving on the inner left side. Upon the maneuver Senna’s rear right wheel touched the front left wheel of Schlesser with the result that the former driver got beached on a kerb.

After the accident Senna had to stay away from the race and the Grand Prix was finished by Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto on Ferraris. In fact, in the season of 1988 it was the only one, when the first places were not taken by McLaren-Honda cars.

Sports Car and Touring Car Racing

Schlesse took part in touring cars as well as in sport cars. He won the French Touring Car Championship in 1985 driving a TWR Rover Vitesse. In the World Sportscar Championship he also drove TWR Jaguars. And he also drove a TWR Rover Vitesse in the British Touring Car Championship in 1986.

Schlesser won the German Supercup in 1988 as a part of the Sauber-Mercedes squad and the was the second in the World Sportscar Championship. He shared the title with with co-driver Mauro Baldi from time to time in the period of 1989-1990. 1991 was his last season where in World Sportscar Championship he drove alongside with Michael Schumacher. At the Race of Champions in 1994 he was granted the title of "Classic Masters".

Off-road Racing

In 1989 Schlesser also took part in the Paris-Dakar Rally on a regular basis. He also started building his personal dune buggies in order to be able to take part in such kind of marathons. The first buggy was first introduced in 1992 in the Baja Portugal 1000. It was the Porsche-powered Schlesser Original. His car beat all the Citroën cars even without a navigator.

He finally reached his goal and won in 1999 and 2000 in Granada-Dakar and Paris-Dakar-Cairo. The victories in FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup from 1998 to 2002 are also in Schlesser’s record.