It’s party time again! First Peter Auto event in what seemed ages!
After the absence of any events for the past year the kickoff of the classic car racing season is much welcomed amongst all historic racing lovers. Myself included, obviously. The first event of the Peter Auto calendar took place at the historic racetrack Dijon-Prenois. (FR)
This track might not be the first one that comes to mind when you think about circuits in France. Which is home to heavy-hitters like Paul Ricard and of course, Le Mans.
However, the Dijon-Prenois raceway has a very rich history of racing too.
The 3.8km long track was built in 1969 and was home to F1 up until 1984 when Niki Lauda won the race. That victory was Lauda’s 3th and final World Championship that year.
Skip forward a few decades and racing events still continue to take place. This time around, it’s the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or organized by Peter Auto.
With 230 cars on the grid, spread over 9 different racing series, this was going to be awesome!
As the clock struck 09:00h in the morning on Friday, the drivers turned their keys and the engines fired up one by one. Looking up at the sky, the sun was out and not a single cloud was to be seen. Despite all the weather forecast predicting heavy rain and code oranje storms, not a single drop fell during the whole day. It was a beautiful, hot day.
First ones to hit the track: The 50’s Legends. Friday and Saturday consisted of practise runs and qualifications for all the grids. However the guys of The Greatest Trophy – just like Group C – are doing 2 races during this event, so on Saturday, The Greatest Trophy had their first race already.
It’s party time again!: Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or 2021
In stark contrast to the day before, on Saturday it was raining… A lot! So when The Greatest Trophy had their first race in the morning. ‘Curbe de Pouas’ – the last corner before the start-finish straight – seemed to be a tricky one for all of the drivers. It’s a long sweeping right-hander where the track dips down a lot, right before a steep incline to the straight. So as it poured down, right in the bottom of the track, all the rain started collecting and a pretty substantial amount of water covered the whole track. Aquaplaning was the name of the game and all of the drivers had to bring their A game if they didn’t want to spin out.
Talking about spinning out; the Bizzarinis, Ferrari 275’s and 250’s aren’t really known for their high downforce. So needless to say, I have seen quite a few of them spin out right in front of me. I even saw a Porsche 719 do a full pirouette and just kept flooring it like nothing happened. Legend! Luckily no cars got damaged during those spins as others were doing their absolute best to avoid a collision, while trying not to land in the barrieres themselves.
Despite starting on pole position, Vincent Gaye with his 275 GTB/C eventually ended 4th due to spinning out due to aquaplaning. He made a huge comeback but made another mistake right before the checkered flag went up, losing some time. Of Course other drivers were taking advantage of his mistake, which resulted in a win for the Ebeling Bizzarrini 5300GT. Luckily for all the drivers, tomorrow is another day and a fresh chance to improve on Saturday’s performance.
Whilst some cars had trouble keeping their nose pointed in the right direction, other cars weren’t hugely impressed with all of the rainfall. Those were the high downforce cars of Group C Racing, who were hitting the track next for their 2nd qualification laps.
The dry weather on Friday made Christophe d’Ansembourg with his gorgeous Silk Cut Jaguar XJR-14 outshine everyone, he already had put down a great time so knowing he wouldn’t improve on his time in the rain, the XJR didn’t hit the track on Saturday.
His gamble paid off because he was leading the pack on Sunday’s first race…. up until the point the Jag had to retire due to transmission issues. The leaderboard showed the yellow Froma livery Nissan R90 of Pierre Alain France on top.
Later that day race 2 started and the Jaguar was fixed. The Jaguar-Nissan battle could continue as they were both setting an impressive pace during race 1. However, only one lap in and Christophe d’Ansembourg already had to retire again due to mechanical issues… again. Bad day for the Silk Cut legend.
With this car out of the race, the battle now was between 3 cars. The Nissan R90; Porsche 962C and the Spice SE90, with Lars Nielsen and his Porsche having the lead. As the battle heated up, some contact happend and the Spice left the race. Due to this contact, the R90 was the first to see the checkered flag and cross the line, before the Porsche.
Also seen on track during this event was an Alfa Romeo 8C Monza and a Bugatti T51, racing alongside the HGPCA cars. Such a cool sight to behold! The Alfa and Bugatti were in a class on their own and the Bugatti took down the victory.
The Heritage Touring car grid was also super cool to see. The legendary BMW 3.0CSL – nicknamed batmobile – racing neck and neck against the really loud Ford Capri’s RS3000. There were not one but five fire breathing batmobiles on track. One of my favorite cars the German Bavarian brand has ever produced.
After a whole one hour race Van Riet, with his RS3000 was in the lead. However disaster struck when his gearbox broke down 5 minutes before the race ended. This meant a victory for another Ford Capri and his driver Maxime Guénat. And a well deserved 2nd place for Christian Traber and his 3.0 CSL.
If you want to read more of the results, please visit the Peter Auto website for a quick summary and all the leaderboards. I will be covering the next event at Le Mans later this week as well and – as you could imagine – I am fully excited about going back to the racetrack!