|Formula One World Championship career|
|Active years||1983, 1988|
|Teams||RAM Racing, Williams|
|Races||2 (1 start)|
|First race||1983 French Grand Prix|
|Last race||1988 Italian Grand Prix|
Jean-Louis Schlesser (born September 12, 1948 in Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle) is a French racing driver with experience in circuit racing and cross-country rallying. He is known for his successful wins of many different competitions. He is the nephew of Jo Schlesser, a former Formula One driver.
Schlesser grew up in Morocco before returning to France to study and complete military service. He began racing in various paved-track events and shared the French Formula Three Championship with Alain Prost in 1978. In 1981 he participated in the European Formula Three Championship and also placed second in the Le Mans 24 Hours. He moved to Formula Two in 1982, and had his first attempt at F1 in the 1983 French Grand Prix, where he drove a RAM-Cosworth, but failed to qualify.
The mid-1980s saw Schlesser perform in touring cars and sports cars, winning the French Touring Car Championship in 1985 with a TWR Rover Vitesse, as well as driving the works TWR Jaguars in the World Sportscar Championship. In 1986 he raced in the British Touring Car Championship, again in a TWR Rover Vitesse.
He finally made his debut (and single outing) in a World Championship Formula One race at the 1988 Italian Grand Prix, as a substitute for Nigel Mansell in the Williams-Judd squad. The race was memorable for Ayrton Senna crashing into Schlesser in the first chicane with just two laps remaining, leading to a Ferrari 1-2 at Monza just weeks after Enzo Ferrari's death. The media joked that Schlesser had "an honorary life long membership" to the Scuderia, as it was the only race that season not won by the dominant McLaren-Honda cars.
In 1988, he joined the Sauber-Mercedes squad full time, winning the German Supercup and finishing the World Sportscar Championship in second place, before winning the WSC title in 1989 and 1990, on this occasion sharing the title with co-driver Mauro Baldi. He also won the "Classic Masters" title at the 1994 Race of Champions.
After a first outing in 1984, Schlesser began to compete regularly in the Paris-Dakar Rally in 1989. In 1992 he began to build his own dune buggies to compete in the Dakar and other desert marathons and European bajas. His first buggy, the Porsche-powered Schlesser Original, debuted in 1992 in the Baja Portugal 1000, which Schlesser won outright, beating the works Citroën cars with a two wheel drive vehicle and without a navigator by his side.
He went on to several 2WD class and overall wins the following years, before finally achieving his objective of conquering the overall victory in the 1999 and 2000 editions of the Dakar (respectively, Granada-Dakar and Paris-Dakar-Cairo). He also won the World Cross Country Rally Championship from 1998 to 2002.
|1983||RAM Automotive Team March||March-RAM 01||Cosworth V8||BRA
|1988||Canon Williams Team||Williams FW12||Judd V8||BRA
|French Touring Car
1990: with Mauro Baldi