EVENT:// Raceday on the Circuit des Remparts

Sunday morning, race day dawned and 0800h seemed to come up very early!  Practice commenced with the first competitors getting used to the cool and damp conditions on a circuit that takes no prisoners.  Guard rails seem all too close at that time, and in the semi-dark!  As the morning progressed, the sun made its way up into the blue French sky, slicing between the old buildings creating sharp contrasts of light and shade, as the cars darted between corners.  The sounds of Bugatti, MG, GN, Frazer Nash and the aero engined Morgans very quickly woke everyone up!  We were all also treated to an interlude of blue and noise with a group of Matras screaming their way around the circuit.  Memories of classic Grand Prix racing and le Mans, it was wonderful!  Times were being set, the opposition established, grid positions achieved and the lunch interval quickly approached.  There were a few mishaps but nothing that tape, elbow grease, the odd hammer and a few prayers could not fix.

During the lunch interval when some were taking on food and water, the track now rang to the sounds of Volkswagen, Alfa and Maserati, as their cars were demonstrated to the public.  The rest of the town was full of every marque of car you could possibly think of, either sitting in displays of being paraded around the main square. This is a very special event indeed.  It does clash with Goodwood and a number of other motoring festivals each year, but still attracts its own particular and regular attendance.

The weather was still warm and dry following the lunch break, but the clouds had something up their sleeves for later as the first cars made their way to the grid for the plateau Wimille.  All the small engined MG, Morgan and Amilcars were dwarfed by the 10,000litre Schneider! Stuart Dean brought out the lovely Jacobs MG coupe which finished second to the Morgan of Charles Reynolds.

Jacobs MG coupe
Jacobs MG coupe Jacobs MG coupe
Jacobs MG coupe

A sad note this year as we mourned the loss of the ‘voice of Angouleme’, as Jean Louis Mathieu passed away recently.  A man with immense knowledge of his car passion he will be much missed, by French and all other participants. 

Damien Kohler flung the Diva around the streets ahead of the Ancelin Lotus Elan in the Pescarolo plateau.  There were great tussles down the field with three wheeling Mini and Autobianchi mixing it with the bigger engine sports cars.  All close stuff!

The rain decided to come down for the first of the Bugatti races which spoilt a potential close wheel to wheel race.  The Grand Prix cars slithered and slid, carefully avoiding the ever so close barriers in the wet conditions, with the yellow 35B version of Gregory Ramouna crossing the line ahead of Chris Hudson. Martin Overington in his most wonderful sounding 35B could not get the power down on the wet surface and came home a disappointing fourth, but at least finishing here for the first time.  Next year?

T13 Bugatti Brescia on the Circuit des RempartsThe fabulous little T13 Brescia Bugattis followed and had to cope with both dry and damp conditions, spraying their way to the line, lead by Andy Johnson in his lovely 1924 machine.  Some very close and brave racing was watched by the enthusiastic crowd, sheltering under their umbrellas in the stands and lining the walls of the Remparts. 

A close finish in the Larousse Tourisme GT and GTS race, saw the Mondy Alpine cross the line a second in front of the Porsche 911 of Francois Rondel.  An amazing mix of cars which also saw the Reliant of Mark Jordan work his way through from the back of the field to finish a creditable sixth.  Passing here is not at all easy!

Alpine A110 in front of Porsche 911

French Protos sports cars saw most of them make the finish in their race, won by Gilles Terrones in his blue and orange LRP B 100 1984 machine.  The fast Hema of Laurent Bayers unfortunately stopped in a plume of steam/smoke early on, robbing the race of some close racing, the driver exiting his car fairly quickly!

Rain again introduced an additional element to the Trintignant race, with the monster 6litre GN of Justin Maeers over-steering his way to the flag!  He was followed by similarly directional Tim Greenhill in the Wolseley, and the always sideways Dougal Cawley in Piglet, the Frazer Nash!  Unfortunately the two Morgans of Sue Darbyshire and Gary Caroline had a very gentle coming together in the slippery conditions early on, which ultimately changed the course of the race. 

Eric comas came to Angouleme again and demonstrated just how to throw a Renault Alpine around the streets in a fashion that was guaranteed to produce a win.  And he did in the Trintignant race!  Close racing between the fast following Porsches and the sole Lotus Cortina produced exciting and very close racing through the field.

The very large crowd was again entertained to the sight and sounds of the Matras in GP and le Mans guise, as well as the wonderful sounding Tecno, all managing to negotiate the tight turns.  Echoing between the high walls made it a tingling experience.  It brought many a smile to gathered faces.

Matra F1

The final race was for the top finishers in Tourisme, GT and GTS catagories, and once again saw Monsieur Comas give us all a demonstration in race driving, finishing around 45 seconds ahead of the fast charging and close racing Porsches, Mini, Lotus, swapping positions throughout the race!

Angouleme gets back to normal very quickly after its annual race event, it is not long before the next city event, and the evening saw all its goodbyes said, cars strapped on trailers, last handshakes performed, and promises made to come back again next year and to tell those who have not been yet to definitely put the date in the diary. 

I hope you do too, my reader!

Words and photography: Ian Wilson - AutoGraph Racing

For the results in detail - http://www.newsclassicracing.com/IMG/zip/Angouleme_2011_PDF.zip