Last weekend the first rendezvous of the 2015 season of historic races organised by Peter Auto got under way on the Piero Taruffi autodromo. The French organiser’s five major grids were all on the programme: Classic Endurance Racing 1 (1966/1974 GTs & 1966/1971 protos), Classic Endurance Racing 2 (1975/1979 GTs & 1972/1979 protos), Heritage Touring Cup (1966/1984 touring cars), Sixties’ Endurance (pre-63 & pre-66 GTs pre-66 sports cars) and the Trofeo Nastro Rosso (pre-66 Italian sports cars and a few exceptional vehicles).
Italy, home of grand prix, rallies and great road-racing events as well as the cradle of some of the legendary names in the automotive industry, has been among Peter Auto’s regular destinations over the past several years. After Imola and Mugello, the drivers kicked off their season on the Vallelunga circuit. It is in the province of Rome and its 4100 metres consist of long straights, slow and fast corners, and it basked in glorious weather all weekend. Saturday was devoted to practice and qualifying and the races took place on Sunday with the Heritage Touring Cup setting the ball rolling.Heritage Touring CupThe first round of the season for historic touring cars marked the start of the Heritage Touring Cup’s second year of existence. The field continues to expand as the races unfold and at Vallelunga British driver Tim Summers was quickest in qualifying clinching pole position in his 1981 Rover Vitesse. The race itself was the theatre of a no-holds-barred scrap that lasted half-an-hour between Summers, Belgian Christophe Van Riet (Ford Escort 1600 RS) and Frenchman David Ferrer (Ford Capri 3100 RS Cologne), who took the lead early on. But like Summers’s Rover his Ford Capri didn’t last the distance and the Belgian pairing of Van Riet/Raphaël de Borman in their Ford Escort took the flag to score their first victory of the season well ahead of the Volvo 240 Turbo driven by Brit Andrew Beverley and Germans Philipp and Siegfried Brunn in their BMW 635 who crossed the line in almost the same second.Trofeo Nastro RossoIf there’s a grid that makes the passionate hearts of the Tifosi beat like no other it’s the Trofeo Nastro Rosso especially when some of the most beautiful Italian GTs and sports cars, Alfa Romeos, Bizzarrinis, Ferraris and Maseratis, take to the track. While Vincent Gay from Belgium dominated qualifying and both rounds in his Ferrari 275 GTB/C, behind him battle raged early on in race 1 between Yves Vögele from Switzerland (Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ) and another Belgian Christian Dumolin (Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta). There was another great scrap going on between the Maserati A6 GCS Barchettas of Carlo Vögele and his fellow-countryman, Lukas Hüni. Unfortunately, both duels fizzled out due to the retirement of Vögle’s’Alfa Romeo TZ followed by that of Hüni’s Maserati A6 GCS. As already stated Gaye scored his second win in race 2 in his Ferrari 275 GTB/C from the Bizzarrini 5300 GT of Jean Brandenburg/ Raphaël Favaro (as in race 1), and Englishman Ben Gill’s Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta.Sixties' EnduranceThere were some 30 cars at the start of the Sixties’ Endurance 2-hour race which fulfilled all its promise with duels between the AC Cobras of Tim Summers/Nigel Greensall (pole position setter), Dominique Guénat/Yvan Mahé, Andrew Beverley and Michel Lecourt/Raymond Narac who monopolised the first four places at the finish in that order. The Porsche 904s of Carlo Vögele/Yves Vögele and Jean-Marc Bussolini were also locked in battle and came home in sixth and seventh places respectively. There was another great scrap in the under 2-litre GT class with victory going to Pascal Pandelaar from Damien Kohler and Philippe Scemama/Yves Scemama, all three at the wheel of Porsche 911s.Classic Endurance Racing 1The CER 1 grid rounded off the Vallelunga meeting and Martin O'Connell/Andrew Kirkaldy in their Chevron 19 had a perfect weekend - pole position, victory and fastest lap in the race – just in front of the Lolas of Serge Kriknoff, Pierre-Alain France and Toni Seiler. Former Porsche works driver Jürgen Barth brought along one of the fabulous 917s and saw the flag in fifth place. Other Porsches that shone were the two 911 RSRs of Michel Lecourt/Raymond Narac and Claudio Roddaro/Jean-Phillippe Grand who scored a double in the GT1 category.Classic Endurance Racing 2While the Chevron got the upper hand over the Lolas in CER 1, the Eric Broadley-designed cars took their revenge in CER 2 with a triple led home by Dominique Guénat followed by Patrice Lafargue, Philipe Scemama and Russell Büsst’s Chevron. In GT2, Christian Traber/Patrick Simon’s and Robert Boos’s BMW M1s finished in first and third positions split by the Porsche 934 in the hands of Maurizio Fratti/Andrea Cabianca.