Le Mans history to be re-lived at Dijon

Historic Racing News

The Dijon-Prenois circuit in France will forever be linked with the outrageous contest between Gilles Villeneuve and René Arnoux in the 1979 French Grand Prix. Those glory days for Dijon are now gone, but this true driver’s circuit remains an important and popular stop-off on the European historic racing schedule.

Renowned for fast and flowing corners as well as an incredibly long pitstraight, the Burgundy track hosts several key historic meetings each year including this weekend’s Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or (June 6/7). Once more organised by Peter Auto, the 2015 edition features nine grids, 300 cars and 450 drivers from 20 countries.

The excellent Classic Endurance Racing series tops the bill with 60 prototype and GT cars from 1966 to 1979, split across two hour-long races on Sunday. The entry is outstanding and while the modern Le Mans 24 Hours is in full swing, the event’s heritage will be celebrated at Dijon.

Eight Lola T70s and two Ford GT40s line-up in the first race, but will be hard-pressed to match Sandy Watson’s Chevron B19 in the gifted hands of Martin O’Connell and Andrew Kirkaldy. Star names include Emanuele Pirro in a Ferrari 512S and Ralf Kelleners in a De Tomaso Pantera, while the secretive ‘Mr John of B’ has a potent DFV-powered Ligier JS3.

Rapid prototypes abound in the race for later cars, with ten Lolas and five Chevrons notable in a field that also takes in the BMW M1 Procar of Christian Traber and Porsche 935s for Manfredo Rossi and Kriton Lendoudis.

Eight national teams will contest the annual Historic Formula 3 Nations’ Cup, where two more slipstreaming thrillers are likely. Local ace Francois Derossi starts favourite for individual success in his Chevron B17 and will spearhead the home team in the pair of races.

Two weeks after racing on the other side of the country at Pau, the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association is back in France with four races: two each for pre-61 and pre-66 grids. The pre-61 set takes in a trio of Maserati 250Fs, but they will struggle to match the fearsome pace of Julian Bronson now that his rare front-engined 1960 Scarab is sorted and reliable.

In the pre-66 field, Peter Horsman’s Lotus 18/21 will be a benchmark against pretenders like young Will Nuthall (Cooper T53) and US racer John Romano (Brabham BT11).

Tin-tops of two eras feature, with races for the pre-66 U2TC series and the Heritage Touring Cup for cars from up to 1984. A rather slim U2TC field is topped by the BMW 1800 of Richard Shaw and Le Mans winner Jackie Oliver, while Rover Vitesses, Ford Capris and BMWs will make a fabulous spectacle in Sunday’s hour-long HTC contest. Lucien Guitteny, an F3 racer of the early 1970s, joins the contest in an Alfa Romeo GTAM.

In rural Lincolnshire, the Vintage Sports Car Club will host its unique style of racing at the UK’s most challenging track, Cadwell Park. The annual VSCC visit to the parkland track east of Lincoln is a seasonal highlight for many, with the usual mix of scratch and handicap races on offer.

Notable races include the Shuttleworth, Nuffield and Len Thompson Memorial Trophies for pre-1961 racing cars and the Spero and Voiturette Trophy Race for small capacity pre-war race cars. Special races are for Frazer Nash and GN cycle cars, pre-war Riley racing and sports-cars and Morgan three-wheelers.

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