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2019 Espiritu de Montjuic
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And we are off
Like last year, the French Peter Auto organisation kicked off their season in 2019 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with the Espiritu de Montjuic. Like the name suggests, the event is held in the spirit of the great period races on the nearby Montjuic hill. With the exception of the Formula 2 category, all the familiar racing groups from 2018 have returned. This includes the 2.0L Cup for short wheelbase Porsche 911s that was introduced last year at select events but now is a set fixture. Also now a set part of the eight-grid Peter Auto weekends is the re-branded Endurance Racing Legends for sports cars from the 1990s and 2000s. That means that the Espiritu de Montjuic saw sports cars, GTs and touring cars represent from the early 1950s virtually through to the current day.
Spring was in the air on the opening morning but there was rain later on the day and again on Sunday, and one of the nearby mountains actually received a fresh sprinkling of snow. That certainly did not dampen the spirits. We were trackside throughout the weekend and have returned with this action-packed 220-shot gallery.

Racing into the sunset
As always, the Saturday was concluded with the Sixties' Endurance grid. Run over two hours with a mandatory five-minute pit stop, this was a true test of endurance. In qualifying it was once again evident that showing up anything but a Shelby Cobra was like showing up with a knife to gun fight. The soaking wet track levelled the competition somewhat but nevertheless there were eight Cobras in the top 12. The one 'knife' that did manage to keep the Cobras honest was the Lotus Eleven shared by Sandy Watson and Andrew Kirkaldy. There was, however, nothing that they could do about pole-man Gary Pearson in the ex-works Le Mans Cobra he shared with Carlos Monteverde. The latter grabbed the lead early on but it was Henri Moser in the Cobra he shared with Charles Firmenich that lead for most of the first hour. For the remainder of his stint, Monteverde was involved in an entertaining battle for second with David Hart in another Cobra. When Hart's son Olivier took over, the tables were quickly turned and he held an impressive lead over Christophe van Riet in the Cobra he shared with Thierry de Latre du Bosqueau. Unfortunately, an issue was found with the V8 in the Harts' Cobra and they were excluded. This promoted Van Riet and De Latre du Bosqueau to the top step. Even though a second Cobra was also excluded, the first 'knife' in the results was the Jaguar E-Type of Carlos F. Cruz and Miguel Amaral.

Epic fight relived
One of the big anniversaries celebrated this year is the 50th of the Porsche 917. Just why the legendary 12-cylinder engined machine is so revered was perfectly illustrated by Claudio Roddaro in his fabulous Gulf-liveried example. A very important example, this chassis lead most of the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans and was later part of the famous test, which resulted in the short-tail 'K' body that turned the 917 into the dominant sports car of its era. As in period, Roddaro and his 917K were faced with a Lola T70 Mk3B (David Hart) and a Ferrari 512 M (Carlos Monteverde / Gary Pearson). These three cars raced nose to tail for virtually the entire hour of the Classic Endurance Racing 1 (CER1). Sadly, a puncture brought an end to the late charge of Pearson in the Ferrari. This made Roddaro's victory no less deserved and most fitting considering the 917's anniversary. Hopefully, he will race the Porsche at more events as no demonstration matches the sight of this rare and hugely valuable car at full speed.

Group C
Group C is an obvious answer when sports car enthusiasts are asked for their favourite era. Limited predominantly by a set amount of fuel, the regulations were fairly lenient resulting in what are truly mighty machines with massive amounts of power and ground-effect downforce. The 20-car strong Group C field in Barcelona provided a colourful mix that covered the entire period as it featured the Rondeau that won the very first race run under the Group C regulations and a Peugeot 905 of the type that won the last Le Mans run under for Group C cars. Needless to say there were Porsche 962s, Spices and Silk Cut Jaguars as well. New to the fold was a very rare Sauber C8. Still in Kouros colours, this was the first Mercedes-Benz engined Sauber and still uses the single-overhead camshaft version of the engine that would later dominate in four-cam configuration. It was one of those cars, a C11 to be precise, that proved quickest in qualifying. It would, however, run into trouble in both races with the first won by Mike Wrigley in a Chevrolet V8 engined Spice and the second by Dominique Guenat in his howling Peugeot. This was certainly a fitting reward for the effort and undoubtedly vast sums of money the Swiss driver has spent over the years in running the fast but fragile 905 EV1b.

Endurance Racing Legends
Following in the footsteps of the Global Endurance Legends high speed demonstrations run during Peter Auto events in 2017 and 2018, the new Endurance Racing Legends is now a proper race. Or at least it is at most events, while at several others it does remain a demonstration. The two 30-minute races were run for sports cars and GTs from the immediate post-Group C era through to 2010. The most captivating car on this grid was unquestionably the Bentley Speed 8 of Shaun Lynn. He opted not to run in the rain-affected qualifying but quickly sliced his way to the head of the field in the first 30-minute race in the twin-turbo V8 powered car. Second was for Michel Lecourt in his glorious Ferrari 333 SP while third was for Xavier Micheron in his Ford V8 engined Lola that had only arrived just in time from America to participate in the inaugural Endurance Racing Legends event. There was more rain on the horizon for the second race, so the Bentley stayed inside once more. This allowed Raymond Narac, who was behind the wheel of the Ferrari now to grab victory. Second was for Kriton Lendoudis in the Aston Martin DBR9 that had started from pole in both races.

Final thoughts
With packed grids throughout and some spectacular racing, the Peter Auto season got off to a great start. While many of the cars that lined up were familiar, it is amazing to see new cars show up at every meeting. In addition to the Sauber C8, these 'newcomers' also included the one-off Group 5 Lotus Esprit and Lola T600 that both raced in the CER2 event. These cars and many, many more can be found in our 220-shot gallery.

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