Peter Auto has been hard hit during the pandemic. Their following is very international, and they have always produced meetings that include other activities surrounding the on-track action, such as Club displays, vendors’ areas, auctions, parades and VIP activities. Events like Le Mans Classic just couldn’t happen under the kind of restrictions that have been in place for over a year. So it was with a sense of relief and joy that the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or took place on its scheduled date of 4-6 June under pretty normal conditions. Sadly, though some did cross the Channel, the Brits still could not be present in any numbers, so the championship rules were changed to count only four of the five 2021 races, meaning everyone could exclude their worst result, which for the absent Brits automatically meant Dijon. Fortunately the continentals could travel, and they produced somewhat reduced grids, but with the usual Peter Auto quality. There were some 550 cars in the club areas and the atmosphere was relaxed and congenial.
Dirk and Leon Ebeling took victory in the wet Greatest’s race in their Bizzarrini 5300 GT. PhotoClassicRacing
Good for some, and not so good for others, the rain also attended the meeting and racing kicked off on Saturday with The Greatest’s Trophy starting in a downpour. Dirk and Leon Ebeling in a Bizzarrini 5300 GT led the race, initially challenged by Vincent Gaye in his 275 GTB Ferrari, and Carlo Vögele, up from sixth place in his nimble Alfa Romeo TZ. Gaye spun away his chances, leaving Hans Hugenholtz to take third in his Ferrari SWB. In a dry second race Christian Bouriez moved his Bizzarrini to the front, and another error by Gaye made the Frenchman’s win even easier.
An enthralling Sixties’ Endurance two-hour race, Cobras to the fore, in which mechanical difficulties, pit stop strategies, a pace car interval and rain halfway through affected the outcome, ended in victory for Maxime Guenat and Guillaume Mahé. After a carefully choreographed pit stop, young Mahé also took second place, with his father Yvan, in a Cobra Daytona Coupe. Third home was also from the Equipe Europe stable, driven by Pierre Alain and Erwin France. Christian Van Riet and Damien Kohler put up the best resistance, but an uncharacteristic off by Van Riet lost them too much time and they finally finished fifth behind Urs Beck and Ralf Kelleners. Sébastien Berchin drove his E-type Jaguar, the first non-Cobra to cross the line, into sixth. In all there were 13 Cobras in the race. The Index of Performance was taken by Sandy Watson and Martin O’Connell, who drove Watson’s 1500cc Lotus XI, the only car in the SP2 class and only one of a handful of prototypes in the race.
The first two of Pierre-Alain France’s three victories was in the Group C races, driving his Nissan R90 CK
Having aced both Group C races, Pierre Alain France added victory in his Lola T70 MKIII B in the 60-minute CER 1 race to his tally after main rival Tony Seiler retired his similar car. Early on, Martin O’Connell had managed to tail the leading pair of Lolas in Sandy Watson’s Chevron B8. The eagerly-awaited Ferrari 312P of Remo Lipps, co-driven by David Franklin, which had qualified fourth, and Mr John of B’s Matra MS650 were both late to the grid. John of B worked his way back up to fifth and the Ferrari retired eight laps from the end.
CER2, run on Sunday morning in mist and a lifting fog provided Guenat’s second victory of the weekend, with the winner at the last two meetings (Estoril Classics and Dix Mille Tours 2020), Yves Scemama (TOJ SC304), romping away at the start. However Guenat, in a Lola T286, found his feet and was glued to the TOJ’s gearbox after only a few laps. Brother Philippe Scemama was determined in his Lola T600 and looked threatening in third place. Finally Guenat slipped past and continued to increase the gap.
Though Cobras ruled the roost in the Sixties’ Endurance race, there was no lack of variety in the other classes
Philippe was classified second after Yves was penalised one minute for pit lane speeding.
Guenat’s third victory came in his Ford Capri RS 3100 after one hour of eventful racing in the Heritage Touring Cup. Christophe Van Riet led the race in his similar Capri, shadowed all the way by the Frenchman, only for the gearbox of the GipiMotor’s boss to fail. A ferocious battle of the BMW 3.0 CSLs ended with Christian Traber’s taking second ahead of Guillaume Mahé’s Ford Capri. Marc Devis and Martin O’Connell drove an AMC Javelin to fourth.
The newest Peter Auto grid gave the earlier cars a chance to shine, including the TVR Grantura of Eugène Deleplanque, which won the race by a good margin after challengers Romain Guerardelle (MGB) and David Barrere in his Mini Cooper S, both encountered problems, Barrere’s car stopping just metres before the finish line and gifting second place to Louis Zurstrassen in his Elva Mk V
It felt like the good old days, with the clubs and the enthusiastic spectators back in the infield. Photo Julien Hergault
The one-make 2.0L Porsche race seems to have suffered most in terms of absent Brits to make up the numbers. Xavier Dayraut and Damien Kohler battled for the lead, and finally finished in that order with a big gap to the rest of the 15-car field.
Pierre Alain and Erwin France were on the top step of the podium again, this time driving a Nissan R90 CK and winning both Group C races after favourite, Christophe d’Ansembourg (Jaguar XJR14) dropped out both times with gearbox trouble. Lars Erik Nielsen (Porsche 962), Bertand Rouchaud/Antoine Weil (Olmas GLT 200) and Tony Sinclair (Spice SE90) were other top finishers in the two races.
Guest Grid HGPCA
A good size grid from the British-based HGPCA, saw a full turnout of the Association’s continental members, many of whom were double-heading off to Paul Ricard the following weekend for the Historic GP de France. Will Nuthall dominated proceedings in a Cooper T53, with Rudi Friedrichs’ similar car finishing second in both races. A full house of Rettenmaiers took part, with Josef Otto (Maserati 250F), Jakob (Alta F2), Stephan (Osca F2), Klara (Cooper Bristol) and Rebecca (Alfa Romeo Monza) all enjoying themselves in the family car collection.