There were bright summer conditions in Burgundy as the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or, held at the old-school circuit of Dijon-Prenois, kicked off on the weekend of 3-4 June. France’s oldest historic race meeting attracted some 320 cars and over 16,000 spectators. For the drivers the 3.8km track presents a formidable challenge featuring the blind bend Bretelle, the uphill hairpin Parabolique as well as the never-ending curve Pouas. Augmenting the Peter Auto programme were support races from the HGPCA and Formula Junior. Besides the racing, the weekend ended with the celebration of 70 years of Corvette, featuring a parade of 150 of the American classics. Marcel Hundscheid reports…
Vincent Gaye was fastest in qualifying for the Greatest Trophy. The veteran Ferrari racer, showing he has lost none of his verve, drove his 275 GTB/C in a time of 1:35.706 to pole position, then went on to win the two 40-minute races in extremely dominant style. Guillermo Fierro’s Maserati Tipo 61 Birdcage, shared with preparer Steve Hart, chased the Belgian but finished 32secs seconds behind.
In the 2.0L Cup, 26 SWB Porsche 911s lined up for their single 90-minute race of the weekend. Steve Jones shared his with Oliver Bryant, but an unfortunate accident before the race meant that he was unable to participate, leaving co-driver Bryant to set the fastest time in qualifying. Starting from pole he battled throughout the race nose to tail with Seb Perez and Phil Quaife. Under constant pressure, he drove a brilliant race to hold the lead to the end. On the finish line Bryant’s lead was only 0.146 of a second! Unfortunately, an irregularity was found in post-race scrutineering resulted in Bryant’s disqualification.
One of the most popular Peter Auto grids is the Heritage Touring Cup where drivers and spectators take a leap back into the history of the European Touring Car Championship of the 1970s. A big, high-quality starting field was headed in qualifying by Swiss driver Michael Kammermann with his BMW 3.5 CSL, who managed to beat Armand Mille (Ford Capri RS 3100 Cologne) by a margin of 0.740sec. In the 60-minute race Mille grabbed the lead as the lights went to green and a battle between Kammermann, Mille and third place driver Dominique Guenat was intense. The crowd was entertained by constant changes at the head of the field until Maxime Guenat took over the family BMW and the lead. He held on for 14 laps, but first Kammermann got past and then Mille and the three passed the flag in that order.
In the absence of the McLaren M6B of Max and Andrew Banks, which had to withdraw after qualifying, the Lola T70 Mk3 Bs held sway in a 40-strong Classic Endurance Racing 1 field.
The Classic Endurance Racing 2, 60-minute race was an exciting affair. Maxime Guenat won the battle for pole in his Lola T286 by 0.275sec from Yves Scemama’s TOJ SC204. Scemama took the initiative at the start with Guenat literally on his tail. Initially the Swiss driver was able to create a small gap, but Guenat was always within striking distance, hoping for a mistake.
Qualifying for the Formulas Juniors could not have been closer, with a magnificent field of 40 cars competing for the 35 starting grid positions. Horatio Fitz-Simon and Clive Richards, both in ex-Tommy Reid Lotus 22s, were almost inseparable. Clive, on his first visit to Dijon for 17 years set the two fastest laps, while Horatio, with only simulator experience of the circuit, set the fastest sector times in all three sectors, just not combined on the same lap!
The Sixties Endurance took its traditional Saturday evening slot. Starting at 17:00, this time the race duration was cut to 85 minutes. As usual the sharp end came down to a battle of Shelby Daytona Cobra coupes and the Shelby Cobra 289s. The superb Porsche 904/6 Carrera GTS driven by Oliver Bryant and Andrew Smith acted as gate crasher in this Cobra party.
Read the report in our July 2023 issue…..
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