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2021 Vallelunga Classic
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Following a short summer break, historic racing on mainland Europe resumed at the Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi just north of Rome, Italy. Organised by French specialists Peter Auto, the 2021 Vallelunga Classic was the second edition of the event that was first organised back in 2015. Although far removed from the dirt track oval the circuit started as during the 1950s, 'Vallelunga' provided the competitors with a considerable challenge. There are virtually no straights and combined with the relatively high temperatures made for a tricky weekend on track. Due to the traditionally very busy September schedule, not all of the fields were to capacity and some were combined to get proper grids. Others, like Classic Endurance Racing 1 (CER1), the Sixties' Endurance and the Heritage Touring Cup (HTC) all had strong fields, resulting in some great races.
We travelled to the outskirts of Rome and captured the Vallelunga Classic from start to finish. The result is this 180-shot gallery.

Sixties' Endurance
Despite the track layout, the Shelby Cobras were again the cars to beat in the Sixties' Endurance field. Some additional spice was added to the Cobra battle by the return to the series of father and son David and Olivier Hart. The first appearance with their very successful Cobra did not go unnoticed as young Olivier grabbed pole with a 1.5-second margin over pro-racer Ralf Kelleners, who shared a Cobra with owner Urs Beck. Unfortunately, the two Cobras that started the two-hour race on the front row suffered reliability issues with Beck retiring due to a clutch failure and Olivier Hart being forced to park the Cobra with a broken gearbox. Following the mandatory pit-stop, the Cobra of Richard Cooke and Harvey Stanley emerged in the lead with Christophe van Riet chasing hard in the Cobra that he had driven to victory in the Tour Auto just one week earlier. The Belgian continued that form and passed Stanley to regain the lead. A massive thunderstorm then cut the race short after 90 minutes. Behind the Van Riet and Cooke / Stanley Cobras, third was also for a Cobra, shared by Maxime Guenat and Guillaume Mahe.

Classic Endurance Racing
David and Olivier Hart also made their mark in qualifying for the Classic Endurance Racing 1 (CER1) race. The Dutch pairing's green Lola T70 was fastest, pipping the unique Cosworth DFV engined McLaren M8C of Marc Devis and Martin O'Connell for pole. Toni Seiler was third in another T70. In the race there were no issues for the Harts and they scored a comfortable win. The battle for second, however, was mighty with several Chevrons and Lolas dicing it out. Eventually it was Emmanuel Brigand who laid claim to second in his Gunston liveried Chevron B19, while Armand Mille finished third in the Lola T210 that he had started sixth on the grid. It was a testament to his driving and the skill of his Equipe Europe mechanics, who had managed to repair the rear bodywork after it had split in two in the first practice session.
The penultimate race of the weekend was for CER2, which saw Maxime Guenat and Yves Scemama dominate qualifying. The grid was some reshuffled as Guenat opted to sit out the race to save his energy in the very difficult conditions for the Heritage Touring Cup (HTC) race that was run immediately after. The heat was not tough on the drivers but also on the cars as only half the CER2 field managed to reach the finish. Fastest of the last men standing was Frank Morel in his two-litre TOJ.

Heritage Touring Cup
Still fresh after sitting out the CER2 race, Maxime Guenat would start the weekend's finale on pole position with his 24-valve Ford Capri. The highly competitive field featured four other Cosworth GAA engined Capris and also a 24-valve BMW 3.0 CSL, so Guenat certainly had his work cut out for him. In qualifying, he had been six-tenths faster than Christophe van Riet in a similar machine while Yves Scemama was third in another one after stepping up from his familiar 12-valve V6 Capri. Guenat had a perfect start and grabbed the lead and together with van Riet built up a considerable margin over the rest of the field. Best of the rest was Scemama, closely followed by his Equipe Europe team-mates Yvan and Guillaume Mahe. As it turned out, the Mahe Capri followed just a little too closely in these conditions as the brakes were gone halfway through the race. There was no such issues for Guenat, who took a commanding victory to conclude the weekend's activities. Van Riet received a 60-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane, which saw him relegated to third and Scemama to move up to second for a one-two for the cars' preparer Equipe Europe. Armand Mille scored another win in the Group A class with his BMW 635 CSI.

Final thoughts
The heat and the track layout made for very tough conditions for both cars and drivers during the 2021 Vallelunga Classic. Regardless, there was great racing throughout the weekend, which sadly could not be experienced by the ever passionate Italian crowd as Covid restrictions meant the event was private. We were there to try and give a proper impression of the Vallelunga Classic with this grid-by-grid 180-shot gallery. Next up for Peter Auto is the season finale, the Estoril Classics in October, which looks to have bumper grids.

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