The boss at the wheel
Guy Ligier in person, conducts the first test of the Ligier JS5-Matra on the Dijon-Prenois circuit, end of 1975. Nice and rare picture, here-above, and behind the blue and white F1 race car, one can recognise engineer Gérard Ducarouge and circuit director François Chambelland.
One should not forget that Guy Ligier was a competent racing driver, in single-seaters and in endurance races, before he became a constructor. He even participated in 13 Formula 1 Grand Prix and scored one point for sixth (one lap behind the winner…) at the 1967 German Grand Prix, in a privately-entered Brabham-Repco.
Jean-Pierre Beltoise was main sponsor Gitanes’ first choice to drive the JS5, but he was lacking competition after a sabbatical year and was already 38 years old. Guy Ligier preferred the younger and promising Jacques Laffite (32), 1975 European Formula 2 champion and second in the 1975 German Grand Prix in a modest Williams.
A test was organised at Paul-Ricard, where logically, Laffite was quicker than his elder colleague, “the boss” won his case and hired him for the coming 1976 Formula 1 season. Beltoise (picture -below) was bitterly disappointed, persuaded that the drive had been promised to him…