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14th Grand Prix de Monaco Historique: promises kept!
17 July 2024

14th Grand Prix de Monaco Historique: promises kept!

They had to wait two years, but the thousands of nostalgic fans who came to the 14th Grand Prix de Monaco Historique over the weekend were in for a treat: more than 200 gleaming vintage racing cars, in perfect condition and capable of remarkable performances. So many talented drivers, both professional and amateur, and above all a public that was more than ever in attendance, especially women and younger spectators. After the success of the 7th E-Prix at the end of April, the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) has once again proved that it knows how to organise outstanding motor sport events to perfection.

Cars first. There were over 50 makes represented and Lotus took the lion’s share of the honours, with 3 victories in 8 events on Sunday for the legendary brand founded by Colin Chapman : Andy Middlehurst in the B-Series, at the wheel of a Lotus 25 once driven by Jim Clark; Max Smith-Hilliard in the C-Series, the one for sports cars from the 1950s; and just like the icing on an English cake, Japan’s Katsuoka Kubota in the D-Series, aboard a priceless Lotus 72 which allowed Ronnie Peterson to claim a podium spot at Monaco F1 Grand Prix, in 1973.

And that’s not all. Other legendary makes of motor sport also shone, starting with ERA in the A1 Series, that of pre-war small cars and Grand Prix cars, thanks to an Irishman, Paddins Dowling, who was untouchable throughout the weekend. The same goes for Germany’s Claudia Hürtgen in her Ferrari Dino 246, who finished 20 seconds ahead in the A2 race, early on Sunday morning.

 

Lotus, McLaren, Hesketh, March on top!

‘Last but not least’, as the English say, on the top of the menu, there were four series for modern or recent F1s, powered by naturally-aspirated V8 or V12 engines, all of which had raced between the end of the 60s and the beginning of the 80s. In F1, these now legendary cars had to make way for turbocharged F1 cars, then hybrid powered F1s. But not in Monaco, where their more powerful heirs are too difficult for amateurs and collectors to drive.

So a Lotus won the D-Series, followed by a McLaren M23 in the E-Series, a Hesketh 308 in the F-Series and a March 821 in the G-Series. Beating a myriad of other brands, such as Ferrari, Williams, Brabham, Tyrrell, Arrows, Shadow, Benetton, etc. Three British brands, with two British drivers, Stuart Hall (2 wins) and Michael Lyons, who were very effective in these single-seaters, all of them built before they were born.

Tributes to Ayrton Senna

On this subject of birth, Hall was born in 1984, the same year when Ayrton Senna appeared in F1, and when his star began to rise during a Monaco Grand Prix that has gone down in history. Senna’s career was the main theme of this weekend like no other, with a parade of his single-seaters on Saturday (Toleman, Lotus, McLaren), then the presence of the Senna family (Bianca, Paola, Bruno) in the paddock and on the princely podium on Sunday, to reward the last winner of the day, Stuart Hall, who left with an original figurine representing the Brazilian champion.

Ayrton Senna, Gilles Villeneuve, Niki Lauda, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Louis Chiron, Juan Manuel Fangio and Vittorio Marzotto are names written in gold letters in the F1 and ACM books. They were mentioned by fans and commentators throughout the weekend, as they were allocated to the eight series of cars, spread in chronological order. With a figurine inspired by comic strip hero “Antoine le Pilote” for each winner on Sunday. In front of a delighted audience.

This is the other lesson to be learned from this 14th edition of Grand Prix de Monaco Historique : classic car racing is no longer the preserve of a minority of older and wealthy fans; it now attracts a younger, more feminine audience, at events that have become great popular festivals. Because there’s noise, fighting on the track, friendly drivers that you can talk to and, above all, racing cars that are works of art. Cars that ordinary people can admire, touch, see and hear, on site or via streaming platforms. With a charm that is unaffected by the passage of time. Quite the opposite, in fact.

 

G-Series: Hall equals Hill!
17 July 2024

G-Series: Hall equals Hill!

The last race of this wonderful weekend, and of a long Sunday, was the G-Series, a vibrant tribute to Ayrton Senna in the presence of several members of his family (Bianca, Paola and Bruno who gave the cups and awards on the podium). And as luck would have it, a driver born in 1984, Briton Stuart Hall, won the race. In 1984, the year the Brazilian star began to rise in the F1 sky, during a memorable race in the Principality of Monaco that was interrupted by a deluge of rain. Forty years later, the sun was out and 39-year-old Stuart Hall let no one stop him from winning for the second time on Sunday. It was also his 5th win in a Monaco Grand Prix (Historique), following an inaugural success in 2016 and two more in 2022. On paper, he is now on a par with his glorious elder Graham Hill, a five-time F1 winner in the Principality in the last century. “I have to thank the stewards, because they did a fantastic job throughout the weekend”, emphasised the hero of the day, who has also made his mark in endurance racing, in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and at Le Mans 24 Hours (4th in 2007). A very fine winner, in a March 821 which had never won at Monaco… until this Sunday. Thanks to the talent of its driver, it beat two Lotuses, those of Marco Werner and Michael Lyons, and three Tyrrells. Two reference brands and benchmarks in the long history of F1.

F-Series: Michael Lyons (Hesketh) without a fight
17 July 2024

F-Series: Michael Lyons (Hesketh) without a fight

The afternoon was cut short for the cars entered in F1 from 1977 to 1980, grouped together in the “Gilles Villeneuve” F-Series: the race was red-flagged three times due to too many on-track incidents. The hardest part had been done the day before for Michael Lyons, who took pole on Saturday in his blue Hesketh 308 E, carrying the colours of a famous men’s magazine. The 33-year-old Briton only had to get off the mark in the two standing starts and the flying start to claim his 8th win in the Principality since 2012, on a circuit he loves. Behind the lucky winner, two splendid yellow Fittipaldis, ‘made in Brazil’, completed the podium: the F5A of Miles Griffiths, a compatriot of Lyons, and the F6A of Jonathan Cochet, the French Formula 3 champion in 2000.

 

C-Series: Lotus beats Maserati
17 July 2024

C-Series: Lotus beats Maserati

The insatiable British marque, founded by Colin Chapman, continued its raid on Sunday at the 14th Grand Prix Historique de Monaco by winning the C-Series after the D and E Series earlier in the day. This C-Series, again this year, bore the name of Vittorio Marzotto and dedicated to front-engined sports cars from 1952 to 1957. Surprised at the start, Max Smith-Hilliard led a superb comeback at the wheel of his Lotus MK X, which was at the top of the timesheets on Friday afternoon. His daring driving was marked by two very aggressive manoeuvres which were studied at length by the race directors: the first on Richard Wilson’s Maserati 250 S at the Casino turn, the second at the Portier bend, when he dived on the apex. With his rivals out of the way, the Briton in the Graham Hill tribute helmet was on course for victory, far ahead of Claudia Hürtgen, who started from 4th on the grid. She was very attentive in her Maserati 300 S and finished in 2nd place, taking her second podium finish of the day after her win in the A2-Series. The podium was completed by Niklas Halusa in a 1954 Jaguar D-Type.

 

Collector's MGPH Legends Trophy for all the winners!
17 July 2024

Collector’s MGPH Legends Trophy for all the winners!

Two years ago, the public and competitors discovered trophies inspired by Yvon Amiel’s comic strip Antoine le Pilote. For this 14th edition of Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, new figurines have been produced, slightly reworked to fit in even better with the drivers representing the 8 Series contested in the Principality, from the A1, christened “Louis Chiron”, to the G “Ayrton Senna”.

A comic strip character to give children aged 5 to 105 their first taste of motor sport, now available in a dozen albums, including an English version of “Antoine le Pilote au Grand Prix de Monaco”. This character was born under the fingers of Yvon Amiel and Fernando Grande, and is now an ambassador for motor racing to the general public.

At the instigation of the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), the pair have designed and produced 8 “MGPH Legends Trophy” bearing the effigy of the drivers who each give their name to a category. On Sunday, the Juan Manuel Fangio statuette was presented to the winner of the A2 Series, Claudia Hürtgen, by Rùben Fangio, son of the five-time World Champion, and signed by Yvon Amiel. Then, throughout the day, the other winners of the day receive replicas of Louis Chiron, Graham Hill, Vittorio Marzotto, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve and finally Ayrton Senna, which will be awarded after the last race in the presence of the family of the driver celebrated during the weekend.

It’s a wonderful initiative, in keeping with the spirit of the Historic Monaco Grand Prix: sharing the heritage left by motor sport over nearly a century across the generations.

E-Series: Hall wins for McLaren
17 July 2024

E-Series: Hall wins for McLaren

In the E-Series (F1 single-seaters built between 1973 and 1976), dubbed the “Niki Lauda” race, England’s Stuart Hall, who started from pole position, triumphed with an all-white 1973 McLaren M23 carrying the Y of the Yardley cosmetics brand. In the end, he came out on top against two compatriots, very well-equipped like himself, Nicholas Padmore (Lotus 77) and Michael Lyons (McLaren M26, ex-James-Hunt). But he didn’t need to beat Marco Werner because the very experienced German, a three-time winner of Le Mans 24 Hours, was forced to retire in his Lotus 76 from the 1974 season (ex-Ronnie Peterson). This is already Stuart Hall’s 4th win in the Principality, after the inaugural one in 2016 and two more in 2022. And it may not be the last, with two more F1 races scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

 

D-Series: Kubota (Lotus), in the name of the father
17 July 2024

D-Series: Kubota (Lotus), in the name of the father

The D-Series race, sponsored by Sir Jackie Stewart (12 laps) was exclusive to F1 cars from the 1966 to 1972 seasons, equipped with naturally-aspirated 3-litre engines. Michael Lyons, who started from pole position, looked set to resume his winning ways in the Principality, at the wheel of a pretty 1971 Surtees TS9, but a mechanical problem at the Rascasse forced the Englishman to return to the pits, passing the lead to Katsuaki Kubota (Lotus 72). The 62-year-old Japanese driver, who had already won here in 2014, was very emotional after passing the finish line: “I think a lot about my father today, because he passed away at the end of April. He helped me a lot to become a driver“, said the winner before climbing onto the podium, like Ronnie Peterson in the same car, in Monaco, in 1973 (3rd). He was joined on the podium by Britain’s Matthew Wrigley (March 721), who started on the second row, and ‘Mr John of B’, in a superb Matra MS120 with a V12 engine. A special mention goes to Adrian Newey, the brilliant engineer from Red Bull Racing, who finished a superb 4th, just off the podium, in a red 1968 Lotus 49B built ten years after he was born. Time flies…

 

B-Series: Middlehurst (Lotus) equals Graham Hill!
17 July 2024

B-Series: Middlehurst (Lotus) equals Graham Hill!

Five wins in Monaco. Just like the late Graham Hill, who lends his name to this B-Series at the 14th Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, Andy Middlehurst has won again in the Principality. And this for the 5th time: 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 and now 2024, in a 1962 Lotus 25 which won several Grands Prix in the hands of the great Jim Clark. It’s a well-born single-seater whose record of achievements continues to grow. In this series reserved for F1 cars from the early 1960s, with 1500cc engines, Middlehurst, who started from pole position, had to hold off ‘Joe’ Colasacco, a winner here in 2004 and 2022, until the 10th and final lap. Thanks to the qualities of his 1964 Ferrari 1512 (ex-John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini), the American got off to an excellent start, jumped from the second row of the grid and then kept up the suspense right to the end, finishing only 7 tenths behind the winner. The podium was completed by another Briton, Mark Shaw, in another Lotus, ahead of the venerable Brabham BT7 of Lukas Halusa and the Cooper T71/73 of Christopher Drake. This did not look like a B-Series at all!

 

A1-Series: Paddins Dowling (ERA) wins it all!
17 July 2024

A1-Series: Paddins Dowling (ERA) wins it all!

Sunday’s second race, in the “Louis Chiron” A1 Series, pitted pre-war Grand Prix cars and voiturettes, Starting from pole position after dominating free practice on Friday, Irishman Paddins Dowling did everything right to make his dream come true and pass the chequered flag in the same position: “It’s a privilege to drive here, in these cars, although I’m far less talented behind the wheel than the drivers who raced here, before the war“, reacted the happy and modest winner of the day, in a 1936 ERA R5B. A car that had belonged to Prince Bira, a gentleman driver of the past century. The now-defunct British firm even managed a one-two finish, with 2nd place going to Canadian Brad Baker, in an ERA R10B that once belonged to Nick Mason, the former drummer of Pink Floyd. The princely podium was completed by England’s Michael Birch (Maserati 4CM), in the same order as on the starting grid.

 

A2-Series: Claudia Hürtgen (Ferrari) untouchable!
17 July 2024

A2-Series: Claudia Hürtgen (Ferrari) untouchable!

The first win of the 14th Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, Sunday morning in the A2-Series, went to Claudia Hürtgen, who had already won in 2022. In addition to a laurel wreath and an original “Antoine le Pilote” figurine representing Juan Manuel Fangio, the highly experienced German driver was welcome on the podium by Ruben Fangio, son of the five-time Argentine world champion.

It was a race for front-engined Grand Prix cars built before 1961, and at the wheel of her 1960 Ferrari 246 Dino, entered by Methusalem Racing, the former F3 and GT driver gave no chance or hope to the big guys following her. “I got off to a very good start and then focused on not making any mistake”, she explained. After nine laps, Claudia Hürtgen finished 20 seconds ahead of Marino Franchitti (brother of three-time Indy 500 winner Dario), in a Maserati 250F, and Anthony Wood (Tec-Mec). Belgian actor Stéphane de Groodt took an excellent 6th place and the other female driver in the race, Niamh Wood, finished mid-table in 14th place.

 

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