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2022 Mugello Classic
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As scheduled, the 2022 European historic racing season kicked off during the first weekend of April with the Mugello Classic. Organised by French specialists Peter Auto, it was actually the second edition of the event. The inaugural Mugello Classic was back in 2014 and since then, other Italian tracks have hosted Peter Auto events. Considering the stunning location, in the Tuscany hills, and the classic flowing, fast track, it was quite surprising that it took eight years for international historic racing to return to the Mugello Circuit. One of the main reasons to go this far south in Europe early in the year was to seek comfortable conditions but the weather gods certainly had different ideas. There had not been rain of any significance in nearly three months but during the Mugello Classic weekend, we were treated to plenty of it, and also the odd hail-shower. This did provide for a particularly scenic backdrop with the hilltops covered in snow from Saturday onwards.
Braving the wet and cold conditions, our photographers were on track throughout the weekend with this action-packed 210-shot gallery as the result.

Fifties and Sixties
After free practice and qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday morning, the action kicked off with several races during the second half of Saturday. Among them was the Greatest's Trophy for interesting machinery from the 1950s and 1960s. Both 40-minute races were won by Vincent Gaye in his fantastic Ferrari 275 GTB/C. There was also a Ferrari victory in the Fifties' Endurance race with Remo Lipps in a 250 GT SWB Comp/61.
Saturday's action was concluded with the two-hour Sixties' Endurance race. With a capacity grid of 72 cars, it was a very busy and messy affair. Frequent full-course yellow situations re-shuffled the field several times. Eventually it was Olivier Galant who crossed the line in first with his Shelby Cobra Daytona but he was demoted to third due to speeding while the track was under full-course yellow. This handed the win to Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, who had started from pole position in the former's Jaguar E-Type.
Porsche 911s of a similar vintage were also out on Sunday afternoon for the 2.0L Cup. The one-make series featured 28 identical Porsches and ultimately it was the early 911 (901) of Andrew Smith and Oliver Bryant that won the 90-minute race.

Modern marvels
Celebrating 40 years this year, Group C is considered by many as the one of the greatest periods for sports car racing. The hugely sophisticated and powerful machinery had just about everything an enthusiast could want. It has also been a set fixture on the Peter Auto calendar but in recent years, the fields have not always been very strong. At Mugello, there were 12 examples entered but at least there were two cars that had not been raced much in recent years. In trying conditions, Olivier Galant took victory in the first 45-minute race with his 7.4-litre V12 engined Jaguar XJR-12. Run under dry conditions, the second race was won by Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac with their Porsche 962C.
The most recent addition to the roster is the Endurance Racing Legends class for sports cars and GT racers up to 2010. This category has proven particularly popular and at Mugello there were no fewer than 27 cars on the grid for the first race. Fastest in qualifying was the highly unusual front-engined Panoz LMP 07 shared by Simon Watts and Jake Hill. In both 40-minute races, however, it was Shaun Lynn who claimed victory with his fabulous Bentley Speed 8.

Touring titans
A tradition highlight of the Peter Auto weekend is the Heritage Touring Cup race for touring cars of the late 1960s through to the early Group A cars of the 1980s. The survival rate of the original machines was not particularly high as they were relatively affordable and thus often discarded and replaced in period. As a result, many of the cars competing in the HTC have been recent builds to original specifications. So it came as no surprise that at Mugello there were more 24-valve CSLs and Capris on the grid than were ever built in period. This did make for a mighty, ear-splitting spectacle. Pole position was for the Capri RS 3100 shared by Mark Farmer and Adrian Willmott. Sadly, their race lasted just nine laps. Following the pit stops, it was Armand Mille who emerged in the lead in his very first outing with the newly acquired Capri. As it turned out, this was partly due to a pit stop that was too short. He crossed the line in first but was eventually demoted to fifth, which was still a great result in his debut with the very powerful machine. His Equipe Europe 'team-mates' Maxime Guenat and Yves Scemama moved up the order with their Capris to claim a one-two victory. Third was for Johannes Schouten with a newly build BMW 3.0 CSL.

Classic Endurance Racing
The heart of the Peter Auto meeting is formed by the two Classic Endurance Racing grids. The earlier CER1 race saw a startling 43 cars head out for practice and qualifying. Among them were a Martini-liveried Porsche 917 K and a Ferrari 512 S. Qualifying was held in very wet conditions, which saw the Rémi Terrail and Jörg Aeberhard driven Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0 actually beat all the prototypes and clinch pole position. Once the race started, the order was re-shuffled and it was Gonçalo Gomez who emerged in the lead and claim victory in his Lola T212. The over two-litre category was won by Armand Mille with a T70 while Detlef von der Lieck and Ralf Kelleners clinched the GT1 category with their Pantera.
Qualifying for CER2 was on a drying track, which awarded those with the most patience. In this case that was Dominique Guenat with his black and green TOJ. Early in the race, Dominique's son Maxime and Yves Scemama diced it out for the lead but came a little too close for comfort. Scemama was forced to retire and Maxime Guenat dropped down the order to have a punctured tyre replaced. Dominique Guenat's patience was rewarded once more and he claimed a well deserved victory. The GT2 class was won by Sebastian Glaser in his Warsteiner liveried BMW M1 Procar.

Final thoughts
If anything, it was great to have the historic racing season kick off on the planned weekend for the first time in three years. Clearly the spirits were not dampened by the challenging and freezing conditions as all participants were keen to return to the very fast track in the future. Hopefully, there will be a bigger crowd as well as the Mugello Classic was a great spectacle that would easily warm up any enthusiast's heart. To find just what you missed, or to see what it looked like trackside, we can refer to our 210-shot gallery with images from all nine race groups.

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