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Mega Gallery and Report: Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or 2021

Submitted by on June 10, 2021

By Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

Motorsport Retro’s European correspondent Marcel Hundscheid recently had the opportunity to attend the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or held at the unique Dijon-Prenois circuit for the very first time. Despite the current situation in the world, Peter Auto managed to organise a stunning three day event featuring over 230 historic racing cars. A maximum of 1000 spectators per day were allowed to enjoy the atmosphere and different Peter Auto historic racing series.

Originally opened in 1972, the 3.8 km track is situated in Prenois near Dijon in the heart of the beautiful Burgundy region. The track has an unique layout including fast and sweeping bends characterized by height differences making it look like a roller coaster. During the ’70s it hosted the Formula One French Grand Prix three times, followed by two races during the ’80s.

The Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or was the first event of the customized calendar for 2021 due to the restrictions of COVID19. Over the three days eight Peter Auto grids, including the British Historic Grand Prix Cars Association, thrilled the crowd with spectacular racing.

The Greatest Trophy features a grid open to cars that marked the major endurance events of the ’50s and ’60s such as the Bizzarrini 5300 GT, Ferrari 250 GT, Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ and Porsche 356 to name just a few. Although Belgian driver Vincent Gaye managed to secure the pole position for the first race on Saturday in his Ferrari 275 GTB/C, halfway the race he spun giving the lead to the Bizzarrini 5300 GT of Dirk and Leon Ebeling. From that moment on they dominated the race in a pouring rain resulting in a nearly 19 seconds headstart on the finish line.

On Sunday Gaye was eager to take revenge. Although he led the race from the start fending off pressure from Christian Bouriez in a Bizzarrini 5300 GT, he made another mistake and handed the victory to the French driver.

The largest grid of the weekend was provided by the pre-’63 Sports and pre-’66 GTs, gathered into Sixties Endurance and featured over 50 beautiful cars. The programme on Saturday ended with a 120-minute race. It resulted in a literal Shelby Cobra fleet review, with no less than five of the late Carroll Shelby’s beauties in the top five. Despite a full course yellow, rain and pit stops, Frenchmen Maxime Guenat and Guillaume Mahe scored a commanding victory in their Shelby Cobra 289.

Classic Endurance Racing provides a real show with sports cars and GTs between 1966 and 1981 divided into two different series, Classic Endurance Racing 1 and 2. In Classic Endurance Racing 2 GTs from 1972 to 1981 are allowed as prototypes between 1973 and 1981 fill the grid.

At Dijon-Prenois 15 cars entered the 60 minute race. Initially it would turn out in a brotherly fight between Swiss drivers Philippe Scemama in a Lola T600 and Yves Scemama in a TOJ SC304. As the two brothers fought for every inch there was French driver Maxime Guenat in a Lola T286. But on lap 14 of 44Guenat made his attack in the Villeroy double right-hander and pulled away towards the horizon.

Next was Peter Auto’s latest grid Fifties Legends, aimed at cars from the ’50s and the early ’60s with cars such as AC, Alfa Romeo, Austin Healey, Chevrolet, DB, Jaguar, Lotus, MG, Morgan, Porsche, Triumph, TVR etc. Eugène Deleplanque claimed a commanding victory in his TVR Grantura Mk. III finishing 65 seconds in front of the Elva Mk.V of Tom Zurstrassen. The driver from Luxemburg inherited the second spot as David Barrere’s Mini Cooper stopped just a few metres in front of the chequered flag.

Group C Racing returned for the first time in four years to Circuit Dijon-Prenois. Twelve cars on the grid were led by Christophe d’Ansembourg’s Jaguar XJR14. After 17 out of 33 laps the purple cat stopped due to a transmission failure, giving the lead to the yellow Nissan R90 CK of Pierre-Alain France and Erwin France. Nobody was able to stop the commanding speed of the French driver pairing resulting in a demanding victory.

Luckily d’Ansembourg’s mechanics were able to get the purple cat ready for race two, but during the first lap disaster struck again. From that point the battle for the lead commenced between the Porsche 962 of Lars Erik Nielsen and the Nissan R90 CK of the family France. After 45 minutes the father-son combination crossed the finish line in first for the second time of the weekend.

Fans of historic saloon cars were thrilled with a vast grid of over 40 cars in the Heritage Touring Cup. The series relives the golden era of the European Touring Car Championship between 1966 and 1984 and the period when the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours was strictly meant for saloon cars. Imagine an over 40 car grid with BMW 2002s, 635CSis and CSLs battling against Ford Escort and Capris.

From the start, the battle commenced between Christophe van Riet and Maxime Guenat, both driving a Ford Capri RS 3100 and the BMW CSL of Guillaume Mahé. The Batmobile driver took the lead and gradually opened up a gap. With the arrival of the safety car and van Riet suffering from a broken gearbox five minutes before the finish, Maxime Guenat inherited the lead and victory.

Classic Endurance Racing, open to GTs from 1966 to 1974 and prototypes from 1966 to 1971 saw some very interesting sports cars such as the Ferrari 312P and Matra MS650. The fight for the lead and finally victory was fought between a pair of Lola T70 Mk.IIIBs. Swiss driver Toni Seiler managed to open a gap until he had to retire. This resulted in the delight of Pierre-Alain France, who took the lead in his T70 and grabbed victory.

The final race of an action packed programme was provided by the Porsche 911s of the 2.0L Cup. In the beginning a fierce battle for the lead commenced between Damien Kohler and Xavier Dayraut. After the pit stops, the lead remained unchanged as Marc de Siebenthal switched seats with Kohler. But it was Dayraut who finally grabbed victory.

Amongst the 230 participating race cars some very interesting classic hardware saw action. Such as the beautiful Matra MS650 pictured below entered for Classic Endurance Racing.

This is chassis MS650/2 from 1970, which debuted at the Daytona 24 hours where it was driven by Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo. The car’s biggest success was achieved at the Tour de France. Driven by Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Johnny Rives it finished second.

Illustrated above is Porsche 962C chassis 962-162, which was entered for Group C Racing. The car is actually a former Kremer Racing car entered for the 1990 World Sportscar Championship.

Swedish Porsche dealer Bo Strandell received the car in 1990 and participated as Convector in Dijon, Nürburgring and Donington. Besides the three races in the 1990 WSC, the car appeared at a race of the Interseries in Zeltweg. According to the records the car is described as one of the most authentic 962s in the world.

Another remarkable entry for Group C was this unique Olmas GLT200 that appeared at Monza back in 1988. Designed by Italian Gianni Lombartolo, the car was raced by Luigi Taverna in Group C2.

Olmas in Turin constructed the single chassis that was entered in just three races of the World Sportscar Championship in Monza and in Silverstone. Although entered for the 24 Hours of Le Mans the car didn’t appear in the race. Later it was modified for use in hill climb racing. Chassis 001 appeared at the entry-list for Group C Racing in Dijon-Prenois.

A special word goes to the whole Peter Auto team for making an unique event like this possible. It was an outstanding event considering the circumstances.

Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

The Greatest Trophy race 1

  1. Dirk Ebeling-Leon Ebeling, Bizzarrini 5300 GT 1965
  2. Carlo Vögele, Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ 1974, + 18.957
  3. Hans Hugenholtz, Ferrari 250 GT SWB (C) 1961, + 30.046

The Greatest Trophy race 2

  1. Christian Bouriez, Bizzarrini 5300 GT 1965
  2. Vincent Gaye, Ferrari 275 GTB/C 1966, + 6.987
  3. Remo Lips-David Franklin, Ferrari 250 GT SWB 1961, + 31.296

Sixties Endurance

  1. Maxime Guenat-Guillaume Mahe, Shelby Cobra 289 1963
  2. Guillaume Mahe-Yvan Mahe, Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe 1965, + 31.543
  3. Pierre-Alain France-Erwin France, Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe 1964, + 37.241

Classic Endurance Racing 2

  1. Maxime Guenat, Lola T286 1976
  2. Philippe Scemama, Lola T600 1981, + 41.241
  3. Yves Scemama, TOJ SC304 1976, + 1:11.392

Fifties Legends

  1. Eugène Deleplanque, TVR Grantura Mk. III 1963
  2. Tom Zurstrassen, Elva Mk. V 1959, + 1:05.444
  3. Serge Libens,  Austin Healey 3000 Mk. II 1962, + 1:20.430

Group C Racing race 1

  1. Pierre-Alain France-Erwin France, Nissan R90 CK 1990
  2. Tony Sinclair, Spice SE90 1990, + 22.513
  3. Lars Erik Nielsen, Porsche 962C 1990, + 37.980

Group C Racing race 2

  1. Pierre-Alain France-Erwin France, Nissan R90 CK 1990
  2. Lars Erik Nielsen, Porsche 962C 1990, + 1 lap
  3. Bertrand Rouchaud-Antoine Weil, Olmas GLT200 1988, + 1 lap

Heritage Touring Cup

  1. Maxime Guenat, Ford Capri RS 3100 1974
  2. Christian Traber, BMW 3.0 CSL 1975, + 8.848
  3. Guillaume Mahe, Ford Capri RS 3100 1974 + 26.943

Classic Endurance Racing 1

  1. Pierre-Alain France, Lola T70 Mk.IIIB 1969
  2. Emmanuel Brigand, Chevron B19 1971, + 5.489
  3. Armand Mille, Lola T212 1970, + 9.119

2.0L Cup

  1. Xavier Dayraut, Porsche 911 2.0L
  2. Damien Kohler-Marc de Siebenthal, Porsche 911 2.0L, + 15.207
  3. Stephan Koenig-Philipp Koenig, Porsche 911 2.0L, + 1:03.222

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