Endurance racing draws crowds at Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or

An estimated 15,000-strong crowd attended the iconic French circuit to see the likes of Maserati Birdcages and Ferrari 333 SPs in action

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As many as 15,000 fans attended the 54th Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or at the historic Dijon-Prenois circuit in France last weekend, for the nine-race historic race programme.

While it comprised of 250 race cars and spanned five decades of motor sport, topping the bill was the Greatest’s Trophy for pre-66 sports cars. The line-up included Ferrari 250 GT Berlinettas, a one-off GT Drogo and the Maserati T61 Birdcage of winner Guillermo Fierro. The fastest qualifier, Carlos Monteverde, bounced back in race two to win from Fierro by some 43 seconds in his 1963 Jaguar E-type lightweight.

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The two Classic Endurance races for GT and Prototypes featured a healthy 39 and 19-car line-up respectively. Two-time Le Mans winner Gerard Larrousse shared a 1970 2.5-litre Porsche 911 ST with renowned historic racer Oliver Bryant. The duo finished seven laps down in 26th, with Chevron B19 driver Phillipp Bruehwiler romping to a 35-second victory over the Lola T70 Mk3B of Pierre-Alain France. In race two, pole-sitter Dominique Guenat brought his Cosworth DFV-powered Lola T266 home first.

Meanwhile, opening-race GT honours went the way of the Detlef Von Der Lieck and Ralf Kelleners’s DeTomaso Pantera, as the Porsche 935 shared by Nicolas D’Ieteren and Pierre Lalmand headed the class in race two.

During its heyday between 1967 and ’78, Formula 2 attracted the likes of future F1 drivers Ronnie Peterson, Jacky Ickx, Jacques Laffite and more. Despite double Historic Formula 1 world champion Martin Stretton joining the grid at Dijon, the lowly five-car turn-out could not be ignored.

Unsurprisingly, Stretton took pole in his 1974 March 742 and duly converted that to the opening-race win. But with two cars retiring, only three lined up for race two. With Stretton then failing to finish, it left Charles Veillard in his 1977 Ralt RT1 to win the two-car contest.

Peter Auto’s new-for-2018 2.0L Cup for classic Porsche 911s also took to the iconic French circuit. The pre-’66 short-chassis race attracted 30 cars, with Andrew Smith and Bryant ruling the roost by more than a minute after the 48-lap distance.

A capacity 50-car line-up assembled for the longest race – the two-hour, Sixties’ Endurance for pre-63 sports cars and pre-66 GTs. Philipp Oettli took pole by just 0.08s in his 1963 Shelby Cobra 289, although it was Van Riet who won in his similar car.

Christian Traber duly converted pole position for the Heritage Touring Cup for European Touring Cars from 1966 to ’84. He claimed the spoils in his 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL ahead of the Zakspeed Ford Escort RS 1800 of David Tomlin.

Rounding off the five decades of motor sport spanned by the Grand Prix de I’Age d’Or, sports cars from the 1990s and 2000s ran in three 40-minute Global Endurance Legends demonstrations which, most notably, attracted a Ferrari 333 SP. Off circuit, two-time F1 race winner Patrick Tambay headed the list of special guests.

Images courtesy of Fotorissima

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