FERRARI F40 LE MANS BEURLYS - THE RARE BARCHETTA JEAN BLATON CAR | SCC TV
Portrait of Dirk Jan van Lente, owner of the very rare Ferrari F40 Le Mans Beurlys.
Many thanks to Jalopnik for the following information:
With the initial success of the F40 program, Ferrari decided that it would hire Michelotto, a long time Ferrari race car builder, to prepare the F40 LM. The untimely death of the Group B racing class could have potentially killed the F40 LM before it really got off the ground, but fortunately the car was able to be retrofitted to run in the North American IMSA GT series. The stock chassis was fully worked over, reinforcing much of it with carbon fiber, fitting a completely revised suspension with Koni springs and dampers, thicker anti-roll bars, 355mm Brembo discs and 17-inch OZ Racing alloys. Replacing the stock F40 engine was the Tipo F120 B which retained the same 3.0 liter displacement, but its twin IHI turbos were boosted to 2.6bar (38 psi) and compression was increased to 8.0:1. Michelotto also equipped the F40 LM with larger Behr intercoolers, revised camshafts and an all-new Weber Marelli engine management system that could control dual injectors per cylinder. All of this amounted to a healthy increase in power over the stock car, getting closer to rivaling a Formula One racer with 720-horsepower on tap at 7500 rpm. Without the mandated 38mm air restrictors, it was estimated that 760-horsepower was ready to be unleashed. The F40 LM was able to touch 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds and finish off the sprint at an impressive 229 mph, making it quite a bit faster than its production kin.
The F40 LM was eventually turned into the F40 GT, then the F40 GTE and finally the F40 Competizione to remain competitive in other racing series throughout the world. Little was done to the cars to adapt the initial F40 LM to other series other than necessary safety changes and power restrictions, but one of the inital F40 IMSA LM models slipped out and away from the racing spotlight for a few years.
Ferrari F40 LM, serial number 79890, was a factory prototype that was built and sold in 1989 to Jean Sage for Ferrari of France. In that same year it was raced by the famous F1 driver, Jean Alesi in a one-hour IMSA GT race at Laguna Seca finishing 3rd and it also qualified 7th in its second race at the Del Mar Raceway, but saw mechanical failure in the tenth lap. During the 1990 IMSA GT Championship, Jean Pierre Jabouille took the wheel at the Road America one-hour, finishing 2nd. Overall, this chassis was fairly successful in its racing life and was eventually bought by Belgian-born billionaire, car collector and some-time racer, Jean Blaton, who raced under the alias, Jean Beurlys. Jean had a fairly storied racing career himself, finishing multiple Le Mans 24 hour endurance races throughout the 50's and 60's, favoring mostly Ferraris when he hit the track.
Jean, being a billionaire, wasn't happy with having a car that any other collector was able to attain and contacted Tony Gillet, who later built the Gillet Vertigo, to propose a seemingly simple upgrade to F40 LM chassis number 79890. Jean proposed that they lop the top off his newly acquired toy, something that was thought to be blasphemy in the collector community (they obviously hadn't heard of James Glickenhaus and his Pininfarina P4/5 yet). The transformation began by completely re-engineering the car's double-wishbone suspension system with a push-rod actuated coilover, 4 wheel independent setup, similar to what's used in the Enzo, FXX and most modern racing cars.
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The biggest and most noticeable changes were made in Gillet's workshop under the supervision of the original builder, Michelotto. The project went through a design stage that brought forth many different proposals on how to remove the roof and once a final direction was chosen, the roof was sliced off and clay was then applied to the original car in order to finalize the design before body molds were taken. Aside form the roof removal, the exhaust system was re-routed to exit just before the rear wheels, so a new rear fascia was also fabricated.