The second meeting of the Series by Peter Auto, Historic Racing marked a new step for the lovely Bugatti circuit as it was the first event open to the general public! The motor car festival is slowly getting back on track (in both senses of the expression!) to everybody’s delight. So even if the sun didn’t shine all the time drivers and clubs were on hand all weekend with more than 500 cars. A look back at the action with a summary of the races!
Endurance Racing Legends
The duel between Richard Cook’s #4 Riley & Scott MK III C and Richard Meins’ #53 Aston Martin DBR9, which raced in the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans, was eagerly awaited, but didn’t take into account the climb up through the field of Jean-Marie Muller in another Riley & Scott, #41. He started the race in sixth position and picked off his rivals one by one to slot into second place. However, Meins in the #4 Aston Martin wasn’t having any, and with two laps to go to the flag the English car got the better of its American rival to clinch second place on the podium.
Muller in his #41 Riley & Scott failed to make it to the grid for race 2 because of a technical problem on the car so the spectators saw a very different event to the previous day. Meins in his #53 Aston Martin DBR9 left the track. Contact with the #48 Dodge Viper GTS-R sent the Briton tumbling down the time sheets. Up front, Cook in the #4 Riley & Scott MK III C led the race closely tailed by Franck Morel in the #153 Dodge Viper GTS-R. But hot on his heels was Soheil Ayari in the #48 Viper GTS-R who put pressure on him and found an opening with fewer than 13 minutes to go to the flag. He had but a single aim – victory! Now he was glued to the gearbox of the Riley and the gap was under a second. The suspense was at its height. Surprise! With less than a minute’s racing left Cook in #4 was caught out, went off and his car was immobilised only a few metres from the flag handing the #48 Viper GTS-R a great victory!
The Greatest’s Trophy
The first of The Greatest’ Trophy races wasn’t exactly a stroll in the park for Charles de Villaucourt in his #22 Lister Jaguar Knobbly. He started the race in fourth place and posed a threat to Christian Bouriez in his fearsome Bizzarrini 5300 GT (#46). The pitstop window opened and the competitors came for their obligatory stop. Some handed over to another driver, but de Villaucourt continued single-handed in the #22 Lister Jaguar Knobbly. He managed to snatch the lead, and held it until there was a surprise on lap 15 when the Lister hit a technical glitch. It managed to limp home to the finish and saved de Villaucourt’s bacon by clinching third place on the podium. Bouriez in #46 was saved this time!
Second race of the meeting. The Bizzarrinis were hot favourites led by Bouriez in #46 who largely dominated the race in his 5300 GT. The previous day’s battle resumed as de Villaucourt in #22 wasn’t far behind. As he reeled off the laps he pulled away from Dirk Ebeling in the #68 Bizzarrini 5300 GT. But that was without counting on the tenacity of his rival who was also looking to reduce the gap to the leading car to the minimum! Under all this pressure Bouriez in #46 made a mistake and spun off. Leon Ebeling in the #68 Bizzarrini 5300 GT snatched the lead. De Villaucourt in the Lister Jaguar Knobbly (#22) was again hit by bad luck and had to retire five minutes from the end due to a problem with the rear brakes.
Group C Racing
At the start of the first race three-time Le Mans winner, Marco Werner, hit the front in his #125 Gebhardt C88. Then it began to drizzle and the leader decided to stick with the same tyres. The weather made things difficult as the slightest driver error could have serious consequences. Suddenly, a heavy shower hit the Bugatti circuit and out came the red flag as Race Control stopped the cars. All the drivers took advantage of this opportunity to put on grooved tyres. The duel between Werner and Sinclair in the #85 Spice SE90 resumed. The laps unfolded and the gap widened. Werner took the chequered flag in first place followed by Richard Meins in his #6 Jaguar XJR8 who against the odds fought his way back up through the field!
The start of the second race for the Group C Racing cars was given from the pit lane behind the safety car because of the weather conditions. Three-time Le Mans winner, Marco Werner, again shot into the lead followed by the #6 Jaguar XJR8. In third was Lark Eril in the #90 Nissan. Suddenly the Jaguar ground to a halt in corner no. 8 bringing out the yellow flags. The British driver left his car, it was game over and second place on the podium was up for grabs! Up front the #125 Gebhardt still had a comfortable lead and was now followed by the #90 Porsche 962 and Tony Sinclair in the #85 Spice SE90. Although Sinclair was given a 12-second penalty for an irregular stop during the obligatory pitstops he still held on to third place.
The Shelby Cobras thundered away in bright sunlight, which had returned to the circuit. Damien Kohler, among the favourites for victory in this race, made a great start in #16. Then at the end of lap 5 smoke began to pour from the engine and he had to pit. The problem was quickly diagnosed, a defective hose. The Gipimotors mechanics quickly repaired the damage and the Shelby rejoined on lap 7 for a race-long fightback. Yvan Mahé in the #49 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe dominated the first quarter of the race closely followed by Harvey Stanley in the #72 Shelby Cobra 289. But as the race unfolded disaster struck the Cobras, which probably had issues coping with the heat. They initially held the first nine places, but this number was quickly reduced to five. The curse also struck #72 driven by Stanley who was forced to pit with a defective or broken fuel pump. The pitstop window opened and all the cars came in. After this obligatory stop, Ralf Kelleners in the #369 Cobra 289 led the dance. With only a few minutes racing left the #16 Cobra 289, this time with Christophe Van Riet at the controls was among the top 10 in seventh place. It was a great comeback after the car’s problem with the hose. A great comeback too for the Mille-Mahé duo who started in 68thplace and were now fifteenth. Chequered flag for Kelleners and Urs Beck in #369 who clinched victory.
Classic Endurance Racing 1
Only a single race for the Classic Endurance I grid. Toni Seiler in the #7 Lola T70 Mk III B led the pack followed by Pierre-Alain France also at the wheel of a Lola T70 Mk III B (#70) with Philippe Gache in third place in his #111 Lola T212. But after the field had done only three laps #111 fell down the classification. It stopped on the Chemin aux Bœufs. Philippe took off his helmet: end of the race for the T212. Seiler in #7 was still in first place lapping like clockwork with 21 seconds in hand over France in the #70 Lola T70 Mk III B and Emmanuel Brigrand in the #97 Chevron B19 who had recuperated third place on the podium. It was no surprise to see Seiler scoring a hands-down victory – bravo!
The 2.0L Cup grid set the ball rolling for the second part of the day. A reminder: It’s a race for Porsche 911s with 2-litre engines so it’s the skills of the driver that make the difference not the performance of the car. A rolling start was given and #37 driven by Xavier Dayraut took the lead. Two groups quickly formed. With 59 minutes to go to the flag heavy rain hit the circuit and Race Control placed the event under a Full Course Yellow. Safety comes before everything else. Things returned to normal after a few minutes, but the drivers had problems getting to grips with the circuit and the pitstop window opened. Everybody had to observe this obligatory stop. When the window closed #19 driven by Turner-Zanchetta was in the lead. The driver had put on a surprising display since the start of the race. Even so he spun! This proved to be a fatal mistake and he fell to the back of the field. #16 in the hands of Damien Kohler took the lead, but not for long. He was under investigation for a non-reglementary pitstop. The verdict? A 2-minute penalty. He handed back the advantage to Xavier Dayraut in #37 and Harvey Stanley in #1.
Heritage Touring Cup
It was time for the cars in the Heritage Touring Cup to take to the track. The weather was more clement, but nonetheless some drivers gambled on tyres. Maxime Guenat in the #50 Ford Capri RS 3100 took the lead in this event on rain rubber? But he was quickly reeled in by Emile Breittmayer in #123 who had started from fourth place on the grid on slicks and installed himself in second place. The pitstop window opened and the leaders came in. After rejoining and covering just over a lap Guenat in #50 pitted again losing precious seconds. This played right into the hands of the #123 Ford Capri RS 3100, which looked on course for victory. Guenat in #50 wasn’t giving up and set the fastest lap on several occasions. Everything was still to play for. With only 13 minutes to go to the finish out came the safety car for a Ford Capri. It was Guenat’s #50 which had lost a wheel and had to retire. Now in the first three places were Emile Breittmayer in #123, Damien Kohler in #16 and Olivier Breittmayer in #22 who ended what was a great race for Gipimotor whose three cars monopolised the podium in that order!
The oldest grid of cars, Fifties’ Legends, was then unleashed. Eugene Deleplanque in the #7 TVR Grantura MK III was followed by David Barrere in his #25 Mini Cooper S and Felix Godard in the #77 Cooper T39. The leading trio set the pace for several laps while the #77 Cooper T39 did everything it could to gain places. Its driver’s push-on style sent it whizzing off the track in the Raccordement corner, but it avoided the gravel traps! Godard didn’t fall back; he even moved up a place into second after the round of obligatory pitstops! The #7 TVR Grantura MK III was still in the lead, but with less than a minute of the race remaining Race Control penalised Deleplanque for exceeding track limits dropping him back to third. Thus victory went to Godard in #77 closely followed by Barrere in #25.
Classic Endurance Racing 2
The Classic Endurance Racing 2 grid, which rang down the curtain on the weekend, came out for the final event of the Historic Racingby Peter Automeeting. Very quickly, Maxime and Dominique Guenat in the #50 Lola T286 and #49 TOJ SC30 respectively locked out the first two places. Franck Morel in the #131 TOJ SC30 was determined not to let them have things all their own way, found an opening and slipped past Guenat in #49. It was noticeable that Philippe Scemama in his Lola T600, usually one of the front-runners, was slower than at previous meetings. Even so, #600 fought its way up to the leaders and took fourth. At the same time Race Control warned Morel in #131 and Guenat in #49 in second and third places about abusing track limits in the Dunlop curve area, which could work in Scemama’s favour in #600. But the two gentlemen drivers paid heed to the warning and did not give away the slightest second!