The Ibec-Hesketh 308LM, also later referred to as the Ibec P6 or Ibec 308LM Cobra, is a one-off sports prototype racing car that was built in 1978, and was designed by Harvey Postlethwaite around many components of the Hesketh 308 Formula One car. The car was funded by Lloyd's of London insurance broker Ian Bracey, who formed the Ian Bracey Engineering Company (Ibec, pronounced eye-beck) to oversee the project.
Unlike many privateer sports car entrants in the late 1970s, Ian Bracey harboured serious hopes of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Rather than buy an only partially competitive off-the-peg chassis on which to build, Bracey commissioned former Hesketh Chief Designer Postlethwaite to design a brand new chassis around a detuned 3.0 litre Cosworth DFV engine. Postlethwaite used his Hesketh connections to buy both front and rear suspension componentry from the F1 team, and the building of the car was commenced in the Hesketh workshops. However, as the Hesketh racing team's fortunes dipped, the Ibec chassis dropped down the priority list and eventually Bracey moved production to Lyncar in Slough. Here, facing a tight deadline, the Lyncar team managed to complete the car in only just over five weeks.
The Ibec design, while bespoke, was not adventurous. The main chassis was formed by a riveted and bonded aluminium monocoque, behind which the DFV engine and Hewland FG400 gearbox were bolted as stressed chassis members. Suspension was by double wishbones at the front, with twin trailing arms, parallel lower links and single top links at the rear. The car was clothed in fibreglass bodywork which had been properly wind tunnel tested, and which proved highly effective at generating both downforce in corners and stability at high-speed. The total cost of designing and building the 308LM was less than £100,000, approximately £0.5m at 2005 prices, more than most privateer teams, but far lower than many contemporary factory race programs.
The car's first competitive outing was, as planned, at the 1978 24 Hours of Le Mans race, driven by Ian Grob and Guy Edwards, with Bracey himself acting as reserve driver. Edwards's presence in the team had an additional benefit as his skills at sponsorship negotiation landed the small Ibec team with backing from the giant Chrysler corporation, desipte the 308LM being Ford-powered! Edwards also qualified the Ibec in 13th position, at an average speed of 133 mph. However, in the race itself the car suffered from mechanical troubles which dropped it to 42nd position after just a few hours. Despite recovering well from this early setback, in the 19th hour the DFV engine failed completely and the Ibec's race was over.
The Ibec 308LM also failed to finish at its one further Le Mans outing, in the 1981 event, driven by Tiff Needell and Tony Trimmer, before the car was converted for use in the UK Thundersports championship during the mid-1980s.
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