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Pierre-Henri Raphanel


Larrousse-Calmels Lola-Cosworth LC88




1988 Australian GP (qualifying)


Pierre-Henri Raphanel, now a contented GT stalwart, once belonged to a group of French F3 hotshoes ready to jump into F1. His early career is closely entwined with that of Yannick Dalmas, his team mate at the crack ORECA team when they fought for French F3 honours in 1985. Hugues de Chaunac's team had enjoyed a run of championships in its all-conquering Martini-Alfas and after Michel Ferté and Olivier Grouillard had taken the title the preceding years, it was left to Raphanel and Dalmas to decide who was to become their successor. In the end Raphanel successfully defended his early-season advantage and left for the ORECA F3000 squad as the 1985 French F3 champion.

In the higher category Pierre-Henri lived through two largely unsuccessful seasons in which his former team mate flew past him career-wise. After taking the 1986 French F3 title practically unchallenged Yannick Dalmas stepped up to F3000 in 1987 and impressed with victory at Pau. Although his F3000 performances were erratic he was snapped up by Gérard Larrousse and Didier Calmels for the second Lola they had planned to enter in the last three races of the season. A fifth place in Adelaide cemented Yannick's place in the team for 1988 while Raphanel had to endure yet another season of F3000.

But Dalmas' disastrous first full season at the French Lola-supplied squad ironically brought Raphanel back in the running, Pierre-Henri replacing Yannick at the track which had brought Dalmas his first taste of F1 success. Raphanel however didn't capitalize on the opportunity, as he failed to qualify due to gearbox trouble.

After this race both their careers took a downswing - although at the time Raphanel will have seen his 1989 opportunity with Coloni otherwise. It turned out to be a career-destroying string of non-qualifications, interspersed with just the one bright spark of talent he showed at Monaco, qualifying a remarkable 18th. After jumping ship to the fading Rial team he received the same treatment: DNQ.

Today, Raphanel is a respected Japanese GT and sportscar contender although he rarely drives at the very front. After Yannick Dalmas recovered from the legionnaires disease that destroyed his 1988 season - and effectively his F1 career, though he carried on into 1990 with AGS - he went on to become a rather better sportscar driver than Raphanel, becoming the most successful modern-day Le Mans victor.