Maserati 300S at Grand Prix de L’Age D’Or 2012
Maserati 300S at Grand Prix de L’Age D’Or 2012

Grand Prix de L’Age D’Or 2012 – Report and Photos

Report and photos by Peter Falkner

The 48th edition of Grand Prix de L’Age D’Or took place on June 22-24, 2012 at the Dijon-Prenois circuit in France. In its early days the event took place at Rouen-Les-Essarts as an opening race for the French Grand Prix. It then moved on to Linas-Monthléry outside of Paris before finally settling at Dijon-Prenois. This year’s edition attracted over 400 historic racing machines from all over Europe.

The drive to the Dijon-Prenois circuit is a joy. Immaculate winding roads pass immaculate farms and postcard ready villages as the musky smell of the crops wafts through the open window. The circuit is nestled in grassy hills 15 minutes from the mustard capital of the world. The simple looking track map is deceptive to put it mildly. With the exception of a small portion of the main straight, the circuit is always rising, falling, twisting and turning. The dips and rises are cleverly positioned to dictate gentle use of the throttle on many corner exits. This and the many excellent grassy vantage points make the circuit very enjoyable for the spectators.

The Grand Prix de L’Age D’Or 2012 weekend saw 10 different classes of racers running in events organized by the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association, the Historic Sports Car Club, the FIA, BOSS GP, GT Sports Car Club and Masters Historic Racing. More importantly, the fans were treated to the elbows-outside-the-car pre ’61 F1 cars to the ear-ripping 21st century F1 spectacle and lots in between. Local car clubs also had a place in the extensive treed infield. Many cult marques were represented including Alpina BMW, Alpine Renault and Facel Vega. Sunday held a special treat, a tribute to Carroll Shelby. Fans were treated to several loud demonstration laps by an immaculate Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe. Of course not to be missed were the local products for the foodie in us all, fine Burgundy wine, cheese, Dijon mustard and country fresh bread.

Back at the track, the smell of hot oil and burning rubber were to some, equally attractive. Friday was qualifying day for most of the classes. Only the GTSCC and Boss GP had to wait for Saturday to stake their grid spot.

Grand Prix Masters
First up were the Grand Prix Masters, F1 cars from 1966-1985. Names like Andretti, Stewart, Peterson and Hunt adorned the cars and reminded us of their pedigree. Michael Lyons stuck the fastest lap in his Hesketh 308E (24), followed by Manfredo Rossi di Montelera driving the ex Andretti Lotus 80 (80) and Hans Peter in the Tyrrell 008 (4). Series leader, Andrew Beaumont found himself at 6th on the grid in his ex Ronnie Peterson JPS Lotus 76.

The 16 runners lined up in warm breezy sunshine for their first race Saturday afternoon. Lyons never missed a beat on his way to victory and the Penthouse Rizla liveried Hesketh looked very impressive on its massive 80s era slicks. Rossi di Montelera held second throughout and Beaumont powered up from 6th on the grid to secure the last podium spot.

Race 1
1st 24 LYONS Michael Hesketh 308E
2nd 80 ROSSI DI MONTELERA Manfredo Lotus 80
3rd 11 BEAUMONT Andrew Lotus 76/1
4th 4 PETER Hans Tyrrell 008
5th 7 MAYDON Ron Amon F101

The grid for race two was formed by the race one finish order. Judy Lyons driving a Surtees TS9 (9) made the biggest jump starting five spots higher for the Sunday afternoon race. The blue Hesketh again was untouchable, eventually crossing the line 30 seconds up on the Rossi di Montelera Lotus. Despite a poor first race and matching race two grid spot, Chris Perkins in the Surtees TS14 (18) clawed up from 10th to finish third, less than 3 seconds behind the Lotus.

Race 2
1st 24 LYONS Michael Hesketh 308E
2nd 80 ROSSI DI MONTELERA Manfredo Lotus 80
3rd 18 PERKINS Chris Surtees TS14
4th 4 PETER Hans Tyrrell 008
5th 8 MEINS Richard Williams FW07/D

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Hesketh 308E
Hesketh 308E of Michael Lyons
GP Masters, Lotus 80
GP Masters, Lotus 80
GP Masters, Ferrari 312T
GP Masters, Ferrari 312T
GP Masters, McLaren M26
GP Masters, McLaren M26
GP Masters, Tyrrell 006
GP Masters, Tyrrell 006

Historic Grand Prix Cars Association Pre-1966
This group of open wheeled single-seaters reflects the success of the two main manufacturers of the period, Cooper and Lotus. Between the two they made up 75% of the grid. The large field of 27 closely matched cars guaranteed excitement on the narrow Dijon track.

Fresh from a double victory at Brands Hatch in May, the Coventry Climax-powered Lotus 18/21 (22) of Peter Horsman bested Sidney Hooles ex Jo Bonnier Cooper T66 (66) and John Harpers Brabham BT4 (1). The racing was close with the top 10 qualifiers separated by only 3.5 seconds!

In race one, a smart start saw Hoole taste the lead but just for one lap. Mark Piercy in his Lola Mk4 (2) came through from 4th on the grid to control the pack for the next five laps. Right on his heels, Horsman and Hoole were attached at the hip, neither wanting to give way. Finally on lap 6, Horsman made his move then held on brilliantly to take the checkered flag.

Race 1
1st 22 HORSMAN Peter Lotus 18/21 P1
2nd 66 HOOLE Sidney Cooper T66
3rd 2 PIERCY Mark Lola Mk4
4th 1 HARPER John Brabham BT4
5th 18 CHISOLM John Lotus 18

Breakfast barely over and the drivers were back at it Sunday morning. As in race one, Piercy nipped into the lead early but this time the duo of Horsman and Hoole made it clear it was their race. Horsman took took the lead the third time around and despite a spirited chase by Hoole never gave it up. On the final tour, Hoole succumbed to John Harpers Brabham, the pair finishing the race a tenth of a second apart.

Race 2
1st 22 HORSMAN Peter Lotus 18/21 P1
2nd 1 HARPER John Brabham BT4
3rd 66 HOOLE Sidney Cooper T66
4th 18 CHISOLM John Lotus 18
5th 32 STUDER Peter Lotus 32

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Lotus 18, Cooper T43 and Heron F1
Lotus 18, Cooper T43 and Heron F1
Cooper T66
Cooper T66
Cooper T45
Cooper T45
Lotus 18/21
Lotus 18/21

Masters Touring Cars
This class of mass produced road cars gave the fans lots of noise (Ford Falcons), sliding (Ford Lotus Cortinas) and three wheel cornering (Austin Mini Coopers). The Austin Minis in particular make improbable looking race cars but they get around quickly on four wheels or three!

Series leader Leo Voyazides again was dominant in qualifying in his fire-engine red Ford Falcon (2). Close behind was a French entered Falcon (7) driven by Fabien Sarrailh just ahead of the Ford Lotus Cortina (37) of Mike Gardiner. The Porsche 911 (40) of Manfredo Rossi di Montelera lurks just behind the keep the Fords honest. Much of the entertainment of this class is provided by the Minis, 7 of which all lap together within a couple of seconds of each other and vie for the title of who had the inside rear wheel furthest of the ground in the corner.

The grid roared off for a sixty minute race in front of a large and appreciative Saturday crowd. Voyazides held his customary spot at the head of the pack while third place qualifier Gardiner waited for a mistake to pounce. Unfortunately for the leading group, Voyazides rarely missteps and after 35 raucous laps he crossed the line before anyone else. In the Mini Cooper wars, Philip Burgess (27) pipped Christian Devereux (67) for 4th overall by just 4/100ths. Sixty minutes of competitive racing, smiles all around.

Race
1st 2 VOYAZIDES Leo Ford Falcon
2nd 37 GARDINER Mike Keen Phil Ford Lotus Cortina
3rd 7 SARRAILH Fabien Berges François Ford Falcon
4th 27 BURGESS Philip Austin Mini Cooper
5th 67 DEVEREUX Christian Austin Mini Cooper

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Ford Falcon - Masters Touring Cars
Ford Falcon – Masters Touring Cars
Ford Lotus Cortina - Masters Touring Cars
Ford Lotus Cortina – Masters Touring Cars
Porsche 911 - Masters Touring Cars
Porsche 911 – Masters Touring Cars
Austin Mini Cooper - Masters Touring Cars
Austin Mini Cooper – Masters Touring Cars

FIA Lurani Trophy
From 1958 to 1963 Formula Junior replaced the motorcycle engined 500 cc F3 cars as the stepping-stone to Formula 1. It was the brainchild of Italian Count ‘Johnny’ Lurani and provided for 1.0 or 1.1 litre production engines, and gearboxes in mini Grand Prix chassis. Jim Clark, John Surtees, Jochen Rindt, Graf Wolfgang Von Trips, Lorenzo Bandini and Giancarlo Baghetti were amongst the G.P. Stars who formulated their careers in Formula Junior.

The series came to Dijon for its 3rd round of 7 after Monza in March and Hockenheim in April. Series leader Pierre Tonetti driving the Brabham BT6 (992) showed his intentions on his third go-around besting by over one second Rossi di Monteleras Lotus 22 (53) in Friday’s 25 minute qualifying session. The race looked to shake up the standings as the two drivers tied for 2nd in the series, Delane and Ragabliati, had qualified well down the field.

A good early bird crowd witnessed this very competitive 25 minute race on Saturday. Tonetti got off well but after 2 laps parked it with an engine malfunction. That left the field of battle to the fastest Lotus cars, Rossi di Montelera in the Lotus 22 (53), John Fyda/Lotus 22 (54) and Urs Eberhardt in a Lotus 27 (79). Hans-Jorgen Krag’s Lola Mk3 lost it’s right rear wheel going into the hairpin resulting in a lengthy safety car period. This kept the field tight and entertaining for the balance of the race. After the dust settled it was Rossi di Montelera by 4 seconds over Fyda and Eberhardt another 9/10th back.

Race 1
1st 53 ROSSI DI MONTELERA Lotus 22
2nd 54 FYDA John Lotus 22
3rd 79 EBERHARDT Urs Lotus 27
4th 189 FERRARI Bruno Branca
5th 58 SMEETON Richard Wainer

Top qualifier Tonetti was unable to regroup in time and had to sit out race 2. Buoyed by his 2nd place in Race one, John Fyda confidently moved up from his 4th place grid spot spending several laps in third then second before cooly slipping past the lead car of Eberhardt on the final lap. Fyda tripped the timers just 8/10ths ahead but it was enough.

Race 2
1st 54 FYDA John Lotus 22
2nd 79 EBERHARDT Urs Lotus 27
3rd 58 SMEETON Richard Wainer
4th 189 FERRARI Bruno Branca
5th 187 HAAS Felix Cooper T59

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Lotus 22 - FIA Lurani Trophy
Lotus 22 – FIA Lurani Trophy
Cooper T59 - FIA Lurani Trophy
Cooper T59 – FIA Lurani Trophy

Historic Grand Prix Cars Association Pre-1961
Think old style driving goggles, elbows and shoulders outside the car leaning into the turn, now you have the picture of the pre-1961 F1 cars. This series also boasts a impressive variety of makes and models. Evocative names like Lister Jaguar, Ferrari Dino, Maserati 250F, Talbot Lago, Scarab Offenhauser and ERA fill this exciting 23 car grid.

The standard is set by Philip Walker’s Lotus 16 368 (1) gorgeous in it’s Lotus green livery and bright yellow wheels. Very close during the 25 minute session were Julian Bronson’s Scarab-Offenhauser and Rod Jolley’s stunning Lister Jaguar Monza. The first 10 qualifiers are within 6 seconds of each other so the race looks promising.

Despite qualifying first, Philip Walker leaves to return to England to watch his daughter at another sports event. He returned for race 2 Sunday but was obliged to start from the back of the grid. That gave the Scarab race 1 pole position. That was all the encouragement Julian Bronson needed and he powered away, leaving Tony Smith’s gorgeous red Ferrari Dino 0007 nearly 30 seconds back when the flag waved at the end of the 20 minute race.

Race 1
1st 30 BRONSON Julian Scarab-Offenhauser
2nd 3 SMITH Tony Ferrari Dino 0007
3rd 19 GRANT Paul Cooper Bristol
4th 22 MILES Allan Maserati 250F
5th 77 VAN DER KROFT Adrian HWM F2 52/112

Having already put in many air miles in the last 24 hours, Philip Walker was ready to put in some road miles to prove his top qualifying time was no fluke. Incredibly by the third lap, he had carved his way to second place and any comfort that Bronson had at the start evaporated in the dry Sunday air. When the cars roared by on lap nine the deal was done, Walker first, Bronson second and Smith’s Ferrari a distant third. A masterful performance worthy of the original pilots of these historic cars.

Race 2
1st 1 WALKER Philip Lotus 16 368
2nd 30 BRONSON Julian Scarab-Offenhauser
3rd 3 SMITH Tony Ferrari Dino 0007
4th 2 JOLLEY Rod Lister Jaguar Monza
5th 22 MILES Allan Maserati 250F

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Maserati 250F
Maserati 250F
Talbot-Lago T26
Talbot-Lago T26
Cooper Bristol Mk2
Cooper-Bristol Mk2
Maserati 250F
Maserati 250F
Scarab-Offenhauser
Scarab-Offenhauser

Grand Prix de L’Age D’Or – Report and Photos Continued

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Show Comments (4)

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  1. Superb and thorough report. Really enjoyed the pictures and how the gallery was on a separate page.

  2. Being the organiser of the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or, thank you very much to Peter Falkner & Sports Car Digest for this report. Great pictures as well ! Best regards, Louis Quiniou.