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2023 Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or
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Grand Prix of the Golden Age
The Circuit Dijon-Prenois hosted the 53rd edition of the Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or or the Great Prize of the Golden Age. First held as a support event of the French Grand Prix during the mid-1960s, it is one of the oldest historic race events that still exists to this day. Having already been involved with the organisation during the 1980s, Peter Auto has been entrusted with the Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or for the last decade. As a result, the annual event combines the sports and touring car grids that form part of the championship with two additional single seater races. These take the place of the Endurance Racing Legends and Group C fields for which the tight and twisty track is not particularly suited. The event also traditionally attracts a large number of enthusiast clubs and this year Corvette owners attended in their hundreds to mark the model's 70th anniversary.
Our photographers ventured to the French Burgundy area to capture the event its entirety with this 170-shot gallery as a very enjoyable result.

Endurance racing is key to the Peter Auto weekends and there are races that last more than an hours. Scheduled for Saturday afternoon, the first one was the 90-minute 2.0L Cup for short-wheelbase Porsche 911s. The race featured a fascinating fight between Olly Bryant in one 911 and Seb Perez and Phil Quaife in another. It all came down to preserving the left rear tyre and it was Bryant who managed to do so the best. Sadly, he was disqualified for a slight and unintentional technical infraction.
Shortly thereafter, it was time for the two-hour Sixties' Endurance race. Traditionally a Cobra fest, this edition followed that script with one notable exception. Unfortunately, the race had to be shortened to meet the curfew after a lengthy delay earlier in the day. It looked like Erwin and Pierre-Alain France had won the race from pole position in the family's Cobra Daytona but they received a penalty for missing the flag at the finish. That elevated the fellow Equipe Europe Cobra of Maxime Guenat and Guillaume Mahe to the top spot on the podium. Would the race had run the full two hours, they would most likely also have won the race regardless of the penalty. The one exception was the Porsche 904 shared by Olly Bryant and Andrew Smith, who finished second overall.
Sunday's activities concluded with the 80-minute Fifties' Legends race, which was won by Christophe van Riet in an early Shelby Cobra.

Single seaters
True to the name of the event, the Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or traditionally has one or two single seater groups on the roster. This year was no exception with a pair of races for the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association and Formula Junior. Sometimes split into two groups, the HGPCA field this time covered the full period covered so we saw an early Maserati 8C 3000 sharing the track with a V8-engined BRM P261. At the very sharp end of the field, the Coopers dominated. The first 25-minute race was won by Michael Gans in his Cooper T79. He could not take part in the second race and this time it was Will Nuthall who took the victory despite having had to start from the very back of the field in his Cooper T53. Also very entertaining to watch were two race-long fights between Guillermo Fierro and John Spiers in two of the five Maserati 250Fs in the field.
With 40 cars entered, the Formula Junior field was very impressive. Sadly the first race saw a substantial accident with a lengthy red flag that caused the delays on Saturday. The race eventually re-started and it was Horatio Fitz-Simon who took top honours with his Lotus 22. He won again on Sunday, beating a sister Lotus 22 by less than a second after 25 minutes of racing.

Touring cars
Although the Circuit Dijon-Prenois does not have a rich touring car history, Peter Auto's one-hour Heritage Touring Cup showed that the track is very well suited to tin-top racers from the 1970s and 1980s. Regularly on three wheels and spitting flames, the touring cars put up a great show. Especially the opening couple of laps were spectacular, starring a pair of BMW 3.0 CSLs and two Ford Capris, all powered by exotic 24-valve engines. Starting from pole position was BMW-specialist Michael Kammermann in a CSL that he had just built himself. One of his earlier cars, now in the care of Equipe Europe and shared by Maxime and Dominique Guenat nevertheless took an early lead after going four abreast across the start-finish line. Behind Maxime Guenat, Capri drivers Armand Mille and Yves Scemama raced door-handle to door-handle with Kammermann for several laps. Sadly, the Scemama Capri developed an issue, which put an end to his charge for victory. After the pit-stops, Kammermann and Mille got ahead of Guenat. The Swiss driver eventually managed to hold off Mille by little over a second to claim a hard-fought victory.

Golden age of sports cars
For many the golden age of sports car racing is the the late 1950s through to the 1970s. These periods are covered by the Greatests' Trophy, and the two Classic Endurance Racing grids. Driving his glorious Ferrari 275 GTB/C with great verve, it was Vincent Gaye who won both of the 40-minute Greatest Trophy races from Guillermo Fierro in his Maserati Birdcage.
The CER1 race was sadly robbed off a great fight for victory as the McLaren M6B of Max and Andrew Banks could not start the race and take on pole-sitter Armand Mille in his Lola T70 Mk3B. During the race, Mille made no mistake and beat the nearest rival, Rory Jack in a Chevron B19, by close to 40 seconds. An impressive third was the Porsche 908/03 of Henrique Gemperle and Marc de Siebenthal.
Qualifying for the CER2 race was dominated by the Equipe Europe prepared Lola and TOJ of Maxime Guenat and Yves Scemama respectively. Pole-man Guenat did not have the best of starts and was forced to trail Scemama during the opening laps of the race. He eventually got by to score his second win of the weekend with a margin of just 0.360 of a second.

Final thoughts
The Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or has been a set fixture on the historic motor racing calendar for decades. Although scheduled between the Spa Classic and Le Mans Classic, the event once again lived up to the expectations with packed fields and great racing. All the fields can be found in our class-by-class 170-shot gallery.

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