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2019 Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or
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55 and going strong
The annual Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or (the Grand Prix of the Golden Age) is the oldest historic racing meeting in the world. First held as part of the French Grand Prix at Rouen, its home today is the Circuit de Dijon-Prenois in the French Burgundy area. Since 2014, the event is back under the custodianship of the Peter Auto organisation. This meant that the 55th annual Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or featured all of the familiar grids that star in the six-meeting strong championship staged by the French organisation. The exception was Group C, as the big and hugely powerful machines were determined not to be an ideal fit for the tight and undulating circuit. A more subtle change was that the Endurance Racing Legends sessions were strictly demonstrations instead of actual races like at Spa and Barcelona.
As always, our photographers were at the Circuit de Dijon-Prenois throughout the weekend and have returned with this 200-shot gallery.

Sixties' Endurance
A set fixture during the Peter Auto race weekends is the two-hour Sixties' Endurance race held at the end of Saturday afternoon. Eligible to compete are a wide range of sports prototypes up to 1963 and GT cars up to 1965 but in recent years, it has become clear that the weapon of choice for the outright victory is a Shelby Cobra. Jon Minshaw had other ideas and wheeled out his 1965-specification Jaguar E-Type. He reckoned that he could build up enough of a margin in the twisty sections to keep the more powerful Cobras at bay on the straights. That Minshaw was on to something was underlined in a very wet qualifying by Guillaume Mahe, who qualified the E-Type he shared with Maxime Guenat on pole position. Although he had set the fourth fastest time in qualifying, by the first corner of the pit-stop mandatory race Minshaw had already grabbed the lead from Mahe. With Martin Stretton in third, there were actually three E-Types leading the rumbling pack of Cobras. Minshaw made no mistake and won the race but his E-Type was the only non Cobra in the the top six. As far as we can tell, this was the first time a Cobra did not win the race in quite some time.

Greatest's Trophy
Catering for cars of the same era as the Sixties' Endurance race, the Greatest's Trophy was created to attract rarer and more valuable machines. Each weekend two 35-minute races are held for gentleman drivers who stay slightly further from the absolute limit as they would in the Sixties' Endurance races. Regardless, it often seems a struggle to attract a good field for the Greatest's Trophy but for reasons unknown that is rarely the case for the Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or. This year was no exception with a well stocked field that included not one but two of the very rare mid-engined Type 63 Birdcage Maseratis that were brought out by the German Rettenmaier brothers. Built in larger numbers but usually only seen in its native United States was the Porsche-powered Devin D brought out by Heiko Ostman. Also new to the series was Roderick Jack's Ferrari 250 GT SWB that has period competition history. The two races were however dominated by old hands of the series with the first one won by Guillermo Fierro in his front-engined Maserati Birdcage and the second by Carlos Monteverde, who just pipped Fierro with his Camoradi liveried Jaguar E-Type.

Classic Touring Cars
Celebrating the great European Touring Car Championship era of 1966 through to 1984, the one-hour Heritage Touring Cup (HTC) always provides a great spectacle. Stacked with BMWs and Fords, the grid is a good reflection of the era, which was dominated by these two manufacturers. Fortunately, there are always exceptions and this weekend these included an AMC Javelin and a Jaguar XJS. What was also great to see were both of the Ford Escorts run in period by the Italian Valtelina team. At the sharp end of the grid, it was business as usual with the 24-valve engined Ford Capris and BMW 3.0 CSLs setting the pace. Early in the race two CSLs and a Capri fought closely for the lead but eventually one of the CSLs retired and the Capri was delayed due to penalties. That left regular winner Christian Traber in his CSL to cross the chequered flag in first position.
In the era immediately preceding the one covered by the HTC, early Porsche 911s were also considered touring cars. Today, they star in the one-make 2.0L Cup. This weekend's 90-minute race had a very interesting first half with Andrew Kirkaldy being chased for the lead all the way by Andrew Smith. After the driver change, Oliver Bryant did manage to overtake and pull away from Kirkaldy who raced solo.

Classic Endurance Racing
This season, the Classic Endurance Racing 1 championship serves as a most fitting celebration of the legendary Porsche 917's fiftieth anniversary. This is courtesy of Claudio Roddaro and his Gulf liveried 917 K that has featured at the sharp end of the field throughout the year. The Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or was no exception with Roddaro grabbing the lead from fifth on the grid after just a few laps. Quite appropriately, he took over the lead from pole-man Carlos Monteverde and the Ferrari 512 M he shared with Gary Pearson. Roddaro did not look back and would set the fastest lap in the second to last lap of the race, improving on the pole position time by three tenths. The third step of the podium was for Alex Furiani with his Chevron B19 despite a late charge by Maurizio Bianco in a sister car.
Whereas the CER1 race featured a bumper grid with close racing, the Classic Endurance Racing 2 field was not quite as impressive. Some of the delicate machines did not make it through practice and sadly the TOJ of Yves Scemama that started on pole was forced to retire early in the race due to oil pressure problems. This opened the door for his brother Philipe to score the second victory in as many races with his Chevrolet small-block engined Lola T600.

Final thoughts
Despite the changeable weather conditions, which saw the temperature drop a staggering 10 degrees centigrade in half an hour on Friday, the 55th Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or was once again a great success. In addition to all the action on the track, the event also attracts many clubs, who can display their cars on the grass banks lining the track, which only adds to the spectacle. We focused on the action on the track with this group-by-group 200-shot gallery as the result.


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