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2023 Mugello Classic
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Back to Mugello
By popular demand, the Historic Racing by Peter Auto series returned to Mugello to kick off the season for a second consecutive season in 2023. After a cold and wet edition in 2022, the competitors were treated to the expected spring weather this time round. With everybody keen to go racing again, the nine race groups all had bumper fields. Thanks to the recent addition of the Fifties Legends and Endurance Racing Legends grids, the period covered by the Peter Auto events now spans sixty years; from 1950 through to 2010. The action on track was virtually non stop with the schedule not even having room for a break on Saturday and Sunday.
Enjoy the first signs of spring, we were trackside throughout the weekend to capture the 2023 Mugello Classic. The result is this race-by-race 200-shot gallery that serves to illustrate the following article.

Sixties' Endurance
A set fixture at Peter Auto weekends is the two-hour Sixties' Endurance race, which includes a mandatory pit-stop to allow for refuelling and a driver change. In recent years, the weapon of choice for outright victories has been the Shelby Cobra despite attempts to slow the V8-engined machines down. Accordingly, the entry-list for the Mugello Classic featured over a dozen Cobras both in Roadster and Daytona Coupe form. In qualifying, however, only the second-placed Cobra shared by Maxime Guenat and Guillaume Mahe featured in the top four. Fastest of all was actually the Jaguar E-Type shared by James Thorpe and Phil Quaife. In the race on Saturday afternoon, Thorpe built up a healthy lead but was caught out by a full-course yellow during the pit-stop window. When Quaife re-emerged, it was the Cobra Daytona started by Armand Mille that was in the lead, now with Yves Scemama at the wheel. Quaife wasted no time and reeled off some mighty laps to grab the lead back. His fastest lap was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else had been. Behind Mille and Scemama, Richard Cooke and Harvey Stanley finished third in their Cobra.

Classic Endurance Racing
For many sports car enthusiasts, the late 1960s and early 1970s represents a golden era. This period is catered for by the Classic Endurance Racing 1 field, which was actually oversubscribed at Mugello. New to the series was the ex-Jo Bonnier McLaren M6B. Before it was shipped to North America to race in Can-Am, it actually competed with a five-litre engine in Europe, which makes it eligible to race in CER1. It turned out to be a very effective machine as brothers Max and Andrew Banks won the race from pole position, beating a trio of Lola T70s.
In CER2, the fight for outright victory was a little closer with three Cosworth DFV engined cars prepared by Equipe Europe involved in a close battle during the opening laps. Eventually, it was Maxime Guenat, who got the edge with his Lola T286 to score his second victory of the day. Earlier, he had already won the Heritage Touring Cup race with his Ford Capri. The GT category in GT2 was won by Pascal Duhamel and Sébastien Crubile in the former's Porsche 935 K3.

Group C Racing
Another golden era of sports car racing was when the Group C regulations were into effect. With fuel consumption the main limiting factor, the relatively open rulebook allowed for some truly spectacular machines. Although part of the Peter Auto roster for many years, the sheer complexity and cost of running of these mighty machines means that the Group C grids are usually the thinnest. At the Mugello Classic, there were 15 cars on the list, three of which we had never seen before. Among them were the very bright and very pink ex-Richard Lloyd Racing Porsche 962C of Philip Kadoorie and the Nissan R91CP of Katsu Kubota, which turned a wheel in anger for the first time since being retired to the Nissan museum in 1992. During qualifying, Christophe d'Ansembourg showed again why the Jaguar XJR-14 is so revered by grabbing pole position of the two 45-minute races. He was on his way to victory in race one, when a flat battery with one lap to go ended his charge early. This handed the win to Franck Morel with his 3.5-litre Cosworth engined Spice SE90C. In the second race there were no such issues for d'Ansembourg and he scored a well deserved win.

Endurance Racing Legends
Also oversubscribed initially was the Endurance Racing Legends race, which represented the newest cars of the weekend. The colourful field featured a mix of Le Mans Prototypes and GT racers. Among the new-for-2023 cars were a GT2 specification Chevrolet Corvette and a MG Lola EX264 that has been reunited with its original driver Mike Newton. It was the slightly earlier MG Lola EX257 of Christian Gläsel that was the class of the field. The German racer started the two 40-minute races from pole position and on both occasions scored a victory. The LMP2 category saw Harvey Stanley and James Littlejohn dominate, finishing on the overall podium twice with the Courage C65 that has just been restored from the ground up by Pursuit Racing. In GT1, it was Philip Kadoorie with his DBR9 that took the class honours. The various GT2 classes were hotly disputed with Simon Evans taking a well-deserved win in GT2B in race one with his striking GT3 Porsche, while the second race was won by Janos Santa in his Ferrari 360 GTC.

Final thoughts
With none of the snow of 2022, the Mugello circuit once again proved to be a great venue for a historic racing meeting. The undulating and very fast track, set in the Tuscan hills forms just the right back drop for an event like this. Surely no one will complain if we will start the 2024 season again at exactly the same spot. Until then, you can enjoy our class-by-class 200-shot gallery.

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