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2019 Monza Historic
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The temple of speed
After a two-month summer break, the Peter Auto championship sprung back to life with the fifth round of 2019; the Monza Historic. Held at the legendary Italian Grand Prix circuit, the third edition of the event saw all of the familiar grids in action, including the recently added Endurance Racing Legends with the local Coppa Geki Russo series for Formula Junior and F3 cars making a one-off appearance. Built in 1922, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is still considered the 'temple of speed' even though the track has been tamed down with the addition of three chicanes. Still very much part of the track's backdrop, the banked sections had already been done away with after the 1969 season. Despite the efforts to slow the cars down, Monza still allows for mesmerising speeds as underlined by Claudio Roddaro, who told us he regularly topped 320 km/h running at 8,200 rpm on the start-finish straight in his Porsche 917K.
Held in the middle of September, the 2019 Monza Historic experienced the changing of the seasons as after two beautiful sunny days, fall weather arrived on Sunday. We braved all conditions and have returned with this class-by-class, 220-shot gallery.

Sixties' Endurance
A set fixture of the Peter Auto weekend is the Sixties' Endurance race on Saturday that is run over two hours with a mandatory pit stop to allow for the optional driver change. This weekend, the race was perfectly scheduled to run into the sunset with the eventual winner crossing the line just as night fell. An impressive 56 cars lined up for qualifying and it was a familiar face at the head of the field as the fastest time was set by Christophe van Riet in the Shelby Cobra he shared with fellow Belgian Thierry de Latre du Bosqueau. With the latter taking the start, it was Swiss racer Philipp Oettli who grabbed the early lead. Despite a safety car period, he managed to build up a sufficient gap to fend off the faster rivals in the second half of the race. At the end of the race he still had a 25-second lead over the nearest rival. As is usually the case in the Sixties' Endurance races, Cobras dominated and they filled the top five positions this weekend.

Italian flair
One of the gems in the Peter Auto roster is the Greatest's Trophy, which was developed out of the Trofeo Nastro Rosso. Where in its original guise, the series was just for Italian cars, it now caters for all interesting machines that are potentially too precious to run in the more competitive Sixties' Endurance race. While the grids vary in size, Monza had a particularly strong entry, headlined by a genuine Ferrari 330 GTO. Other interesting cars on the grid included two Porsche 906s and a rare fibreglass bodied Alfa Romeo TZ. Fastest of all in qualifying was Spanish racer Guilliermo Fierro, who had brought his Maserati Tipo 60 Birdcage for the occasion. Outgunned on the straights by the larger engined rivals, he did have his work cut out, particularly in the second of the two 35-minute races. Having won the first with a comfortable margin, Fierro had to fight tooth and nail to get back ahead of Carlo Vogele who had taken the lead at the start in his four-litre GTO. Much to the excitement of the Italian circuit commentator, Fierro did eventually manage to get past to record his second victory of the weekend.

Touring cars
While it is hard to imagine today, the Porsche 911 qualified as a touring car when it was new and raced in the European Touring Car Championship. With Peter Auto, the original, short-wheelbase machines compete in a one-make series with a pit-stop mandatory, 90-minute race. Among the drivers on the grid was one of the current touring car aces, Andrew Jordan, and he made for a particularly compelling finish. In the closing stages he was closing in on the lead with the 911 he shared with Mark Sumpter. However, it was Richard Cook in the car started by Harvey Stanley that just managed to stay clear and score a coveted outright victory.
Touring cars we are more familiar with, like Escorts, Capris and 3.0 CSL, also raced during the weekend. Qualifying was dominated by the 24-valve CSLs of Michael Erlich and Christian Traber. The two Swiss drivers also took off during the race, which experienced the changing of the seasons first hand. Unfortunately, Traber's car expired but the fire-belching machine of Erlich did survive. He narrowly beat the Benjamin Poron Ford Mustang, who mounted a late charge after a lengthy safety car period.

Classic Endurance Racing
Undoubtedly the most evocative of all grids this weekend was for the Classic Endurance Racing 1 (CER1) race. It featured no fewer than two Porsche 917s, which faced off against the arch-rival of old, the Ferrari 512 S. Pole position, however, was for the Cosworth DFV engined McLaren M8C of Martin O'Connell and Marc Devis. Starting seventh but now on new tyres, it was nevertheless Claudio Roddaro who came to the fore with his Gulf liveried 917. While a pit-stop was mandatory, refuelling was not allowed and Roddaro sadly discovered that 120 litres of petrol did not suffice for one hour of racing at Monza. He was eventually classified tenth, two laps behind Eric Helary who scored a victory in the Valvoline sponsored Lola T70 Mk3b.
Sports cars and GTs of a slightly later vintage lined up later on Sunday in the CER2 race. Qualifying had been on a damp track, which had allowed Sam Hancock to set the third fastest time in the Ferrari 512 BBLM he shared with Alexander Rittweger, beating all but two of the prototype racers. It was however pole-man Yves Scemama who kept his head cool during the changeable conditions of both the qualifying and race to clinch an impressive victory. Interestingly, he had opted to run slicks on his TOJ for both qualifying and the race. Having done rain dances all weekend, Franco Meiners did very well to clinch a GT class win with his beautifully handling but underpowered Lancia Beta Montecarlo.

Pushing the boundaries
When we first started covering historic racing, Group C cars were the latest addition to the roster. Today, they are a set fixture of the Peter Auto weekend. The grid at Monza featured many familiar cars but we were thrilled to see a newly restored Gebhardt return to the track. We do admit it was a bit strange to hear the familiar Audi five-cylinder turbo sound come out of a car not designed to go sideways. With Michael Lyons in his DFR-powered Gebhardt and Kriton Lendoudis in the mighty Sauber-Mercedes C11, the two 45-minute races had familiar winners.
Following the demise of Group C in 1993, GTs and open prototypes came to fore and they have now been added to the historic racing circles thanks to the Endurance Racing Legends. From this year, the cars from the 1990s and 2000s also take part in actual races; two 30-minute ones each meeting. A colourful grid of around two dozen cars lined up at Monza. The first race saw Shaun Lynn fight back after a slow start to take a victory in the awe-inspiring Bentley Speed 8. Under damp conditions we were treated to a master class by Rui Aguas, who won the second race in the Le Mans class winning Aston Martin DBR9 he shared with Kriton Lendoudis.

Final thoughts
With virtually non-stop action, and near capacity grids of fascinating machinery the 2019 Monza Historic did not disappoint. During the weekend, the calendar for 2020 was announced, and we are happy to report Monza will be visited again in twelve months. If you can not wait that long or want to relive the weekend, here is our 220-shot gallery.

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Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com