French Historic Circuit Championships

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In its ninth season, the 2023 French Historic Championship continued its tour of France on 16-18 June for the third of five events on the calendar.  After stopping at Dijon and Albi, the drivers headed for an equally traditional and popular destination, the 3.15km circuit of Lédenon with its many elevation changes and the famous “triple left” that has to be negotiated immediately after the start line.  The circuit, inaugurated 50 years ago, follows the contours of the surrounding low-lying landscape of the Gard region near Nîmes and, on a hot weekend with temperatures reaching nearly 35 degrees on Saturday, the three-day programme offered 240 drivers in 10 grids two races each, as well as a 90-minute endurance race on Saturday evening. 

In a typically exciting Formula Ford race 1, François Belle finished just a tenth of a second ahead of Gislain Genecand Photos courtesy Ledenon PHOTOpress

The Formula Ford Historic Challenge was particularly well supported, while the Lotus Trophy and Formula Ford Kent Trophy grids each approached the thirty mark.  Formula Ford victors were regular rivals François Belle, in race 1 and Gislain Genecand in race 2.  Augustin Njuan ran them close in both races, scoring a second and a third place.

Historic Tour promoter Laurent Vallery-Masson partnered with Eric Martin once again won the 200km evening race in their Debora SP91, making it three out of three this season and putting the pair well ahead of Gérard Pargamin’s Lotus Seven and Jean-Michel Villot, driving an Osella PA8 in the season’s points table.

Successful Elite ice racer Clémentine Lhoste made her debut in historic racing in style, winning the second Youngtimers GTI up race in a Honda Civic

In the aftermath of the weekend, the most prominent drivers of the Historic Tour now have six results (two per meeting) out of the ten that will be possible this season. Still unbeaten before his trip to Lédenon, Matthieu Midy suffered a defeat in Formula Ford Kent.  As a result, he left Antoine Robert alone in command of the championship in Single Seaters/Protos.  With six victories in six races, the man remains more than ever ‘the’ top driver of the Formula Renault Classic.  On the other hand, the status quo has been maintained in the Pre-1990 GT/Touring Car Championship.  Never really threatened during the weekend, Philippe Gandini (Maxi 1300 Series) and Emmanuel Brigand (Racing Over 2L) added two more victories to their scores to remain at the top of the standings.  In the Post-1990 GT/Touring Car category, Grégory Yvetot (Saloon Cars) lost his leading position after mechanical problems.  He gave way to Fabrice Lefebvre (Saloon Cars), alone in the lead with 210 points, by a narrow margin ahead of Laurent Fresnais (Roadster Pro Cup).

Long-time Historic Formula Ford organiser, and competitor, Régis Prevost made his debut in Formula 3 in an Argo JM10.  “It’s good, very physical, especially here in Lédenon, with more downforce in F3 than a Formula Ford, it’s much more precise, you can place it more precisely.  It’s very pleasant to drive,” he said of the experience.

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