14e Grand Prix de Monaco Historique

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Four days of cloudless Mediterranean weather – from build-up to race day – greeted the 214 cars that would compete in the Monaco Grand Prix Historique, as the principality geared up for the 14th edition of its blue-riband event on the historic calendar.  The sole sportscar race was a sensation but the races involving Grand Prix cars were either fairly straightforward or a complete mess.  Mattijs Diepraam reports…

Big crowds watch the chaotic Serie F race
Photo Liam Fabre

In a bustling city that continues to evolve as it expands both into the sea and down into the earth’s surface, the challenge thrown up to those tackling the 3,337m harbourside circuit has remained essentially the same since the first race in 1929.  As all 13 earlier historic GPs have shown, the streets of the principality create a ruthless environment for anyone missing a single beat, and their capacity to destroy the mechanicals of a priceless racing machine conforms to an equally notorious reputation.  Yet again, free practice and qualifying took an immense toll, with cars breaking down, running into each other or going off into the barriers unaided.  Nothing, however, would compare with the Série F carnage on Sunday.

Photo Peter Heil

Setting the stage in free practice, Patrick Blakeney Edwards’ Frazer-Nash Monoplace was finished on its out lap, leaving PBE a dejected bystander, while Bruno Ferrari’s ex-Ronnie Peterson March 701 and Sam Hancock’s only recently restored Fittipaldi F8 suffered sizeable offs that ended their weekend before it had properly started.  Ewen Sergison (Shadow DN9) and Nicolas Matile (Matra MS120B) were among the many drivers to bend their rear wings (both fixable) but Philippe Bonny’s Brabham-Ford BT2 was out with a heavily damaged front end.  A tangle between Mark Shaw’s Lotus-Climax 21 and Julian Ellison’s unique Assegai-Alfa Romeo left the South African F1 machine damaged during Saturday’s qualifying while Sainte-Devote claimed another victim in the shape of Yutaka Toriba’s Williams FW05.

Maurizio Pantelli Bugatti Type 37A Grid A1 Photo Simon Gosselin

Amongst the winners were Claudia Hürtgen, who was in a class of her own on the A2 grid for pre-‘61 front-engined Grand Prix cars, her Methusalem team Ferrari 246 storming off from what had already been an emphatic pole.   The ten laps for the A1 category catering to pre-war Grand Prix cars and voiturettes proved almost as straightforward, as from the start Paddins Dowling was odds-on to seal another Monaco win. 

In the well-subscribed Série B race for rear-engined 1.5-litre F1 and F2 cars, the usual suspects did the business, as Andy Middlehurst and Joe Colasacco continued their enduring fight for Monaco supremacy.

Katsu Kubota’s Lotus-Cosworth 72 won the Grid D race

The first of the 3-litre F1 races that, since the introduction of the 1981-’85 grid,  come to a total of four, saw Michael Lyons blast away in the arrow-shaped Surtees-Cosworth TS9 that was previously campaigned by mother Judy, with Matt Wrigley’s Clarke-Mordaunt-Guthrie-Durlacher March-Cosworth 721G getting in front of Katsu Kubota’s Lotus-Cosworth 72 before Ste Devote.  However, Kubota and ‘Mr John of B’ in the Matra MS120C would be the only two drivers to finish the race without any mishaps. 

In Serie E Roald Goethe’s high-airboxed ex-Peter Revson McLaren M23 looked the business in the hands of Stuart Hall, who dominated the race

In qualifying for the 1973-’76 F1 race, Roald Goethe’s high-airboxed ex-Peter Revson McLaren M23 proved to be the dominant force as it looked the business in the hands of Stuart Hall, who, compared to his rivals Nick Padmore (Lotus 77), Marco Werner (Lotus 76) and Michael Lyons (in an early McLaren M26) appeared visibly more at ease in his car on the Monaco circuit.

In the race for 1952-’57 sports cars, Max Smith-Hilliard bounced back from a fluffed getaway to push leader Fred Wakeman into a mistake halfway into the final lap and clinch a brilliant win against the odds.  

Grid F

Two more 18-lap 3-litre races followed, the first of which catered to the 1977-’80 era. In this ill-fated race, Michael Lyons lined up for his second pole position in the family’s Hesketh 308D, but the first headlines were made when right at the start, WTR Cadillac boss Wayne Taylor’s Wolf WR4 crashed into the Arrows A3 of hapless German Harald Becker, with Stephen Shanly ruining a promising qualifying run by spinning his Tyrrell 010 in the entry to the swimming-pool complex.  Thus began a series of starts and re-starts, finally ending in victory for Michael Lyons, who won the nightmare race from Miles Griffiths in the Fittipaldi F5A  and former French F3 champion Jonathan Cochet.

Having won the Grid A2 race, Claudia Hürtgen came second behind Max smith-Hilliard in the sports car race

For the full story see our June 2024 issue, available in hard copy of digital…

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