Yannick Dalmas was another distinguished graduate of the French F3 academy, winning the prestigious Monaco F3 classic in 1986 and thereafter seemingly set for considerable F1 success, finishing fifth in the 1987 Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide at the wheel of a Larousse Lola. That year he also made his mark in Formula 3000, wins at Pau and Jarama earning him a relatively disappointing fifth place in this crucial feeder championship, given that when everything went his way he simply flew and demonstrated that he was consistently competitive.
However this personable Frenchman’s confidence was badly shaken by a succession of spectacular F1 accidents the following year and he never quite regained his competitive edge – in single seaters, as least ¬– following a debilitating bout of Legionnaire’s disease towards the end of 1988. He re-joined Larousse at the start of 1989 and then switched to the tiny AGS squad with whom he got nowhere.
It therefore came as a great relief to Dalmas when the Peugeot sports car team offered him a full time drive for 1991 and in 1992 he shared the World Sports Car Championship with his Jaguar rival Derek Warwick after winning at Le Mans, Silverstone and Fuji and also posting second places at Monza and Donington Park. In 1994 he would win Le Mans for a second time, this time sharing a Porsche with Mauro Baldi and Hurley Haywood, and his glittering record of sports car racing achievement made Dalmas a natural choice as a benchmark performer to pair with the similarly experienced J.J. Lehto and the Le Mans novice Masanori Sekiya as McLaren prepared a private F1™ GTR for the 1995 edition of the epic endurance race on the classic French circuit.
This was the only McLaren outing for Dalmas, but being part of the marque’s victorious team at Le Mans earned him a respected place in the company’s racing history. Thereafter Dalmas won the 1997 Sebring 12-hours in a Ferrari 333SP, drove for the Porsche team in their 911 GT1 prototype and then notched up a fourth Le Mans win in 1999 sharing a BMW V12 LMR with Pierluigi Martini and Jo Winkelhock.