Pau Classic Grand Prix

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This event has undergone several permutations since Eric Helaine revived the old street circuit at the foot of the Pyrenees as a historic event.  Like Monaco, the circuit has been in more-or-less continuous use since before the war, and like Monaco, Eric persuaded the city fathers to host a historic event a week either side of the modern event, using the same infrastructure.  The Grand Prix de Pau Historique, as it then was, saw a lot of great racing and a warm welcome for the teams in this charming and prosperous town.  The event has grown into the Pau Motors Festival encompassing both the modern and historic Grands Prix, with a week of exhibitions, rallies, vendors stalls, club meetings and other festivities in between.

Damien Kohler’s Cobra led both pre-‘66 races, but lost out to local man Cazalot in the Lotus Seven in the first race and stopped dead in the closing laps of the second race, handing victory to Katsu Kubota’s Lotus Elan

This year the historic racing took place on 19-21 May, a week after the modern race, and featured a large array of old and youngtimer saloon and GT cars, including the French Championship HTCC series, as well as a grid for pre-war cars and a grid for all Porsche cars up to 1997.  Single seaters were also on the programme, with races for Formula Fords, Formula Renault and a race for formula cars of the ‘60s to the ‘80s.  The Classic GP attracted more spectators than the modern event, with 46,000 people crowding the grandstands in the centre of town.

Meireles and Nina won both pre-‘77 races and the 3 Heures de Pau

Headline event was the 3 Heures de Pau.  Regularly seen on the Pau Circuit, the Iberian Endurance grid was so oversubscribed that it was split into two, with two 45-minute races for the pre-‘66 cars and two for the cars up to 1976.  Drivers could enter all races and the driver completing the most laps would win the 3 Heures de Pau.

The first two races were run on Saturday.  In the Pre-‘66 race, local hero Florent Cazalot (Lotus Seven) emerged as winner, while in the Pre-‘77 field, the Portuguese duo of Mário Meireles and Vasco Nina secured a clear victory.

For a full report see our July 2023 issue….

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