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Las carreras de Historic Endurance deleitaron el Sábado

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

- Florent Cazalot won in Pre-66

- Portuguese duo shone in the Pre-77

- Luís Sousa Ribeiro wins Performance Index

Soaking up the unique atmosphere of the Pau Classic Grand Prix, the first half of the 3 Heures de Pau took place on Saturday. The two Iberian Historic Endurance plateaux provided a high-level show for the many spectators who gather each year at the Circuit de Pau-Ville to witness these charming racing machines from bygone eras.

In the Pre-66 plateau race, local racer Florent Cazalot (Lotus Seven) emerged as the winner, while in the Pre-77 field, the Portuguese duo Mário Meireles and Vasco Nina secured a clear victory.

Pre’ 66: Cazalot's Triumph: A Race with Five Leaders

After last year's double Historic Endurance race victory, Florent Cazalot once again drank the champagne of victory on the streets of the heart of the former sovereign principality of Béarn. However, the poleman race was not as easy as it might seem, as this was a race that had five different leaders.

Late on Saturday morning, the peloton of three dozen cars - built up to 1961, of the Gentleman Driver Spirit class (or GDS, for Touring cars up to 1965 up to 2000cc, MGB and Porsche 911 SWB) and according to the H-1965 and H-GTP&SC Pre-1966 classes - attacked the 15 corners of the 2.760-kilometre track. After a strong start, Damien Kohler put the AC Cobra at the top of the classification, pursued by the Lotus Seven of Cazalot, the Lotus Elan 26R of Katsu Kubota and the Crossle 7S of Stéphane Rey/Mathias Rey. With a short Safety-Car period regrouping the field, the top four went in that order until the mandatory pit-stop window opened. Although the Lotus Seven was quicker in the twisty section, it could not overtake the AC Cobra which was imposing its greater power on the straights.

Cazalot was the first to pit, an action repeated by Kohler three laps later, leaving Kubota at the front of the race. Richard Hywel-Evans risked stopping later than everyone else, which allowed him to position his Austin Healey 3000 at the front of the race on lap 15, but this move cost him a 50 second penalty. Ultimately, Kohler kept the spectacular AC Cobra in first position, while Cazalot dropped to third due to a slower pit stop.

However, the French Lotus Seven driver was determined to get back to winning ways on this track he knows so well. Cazalot went on the attack mode for the second half of the race and on lap 19 he overtook Kubota, and on the next lap overtook his compatriot Kohler to take the top spot in the race. Cazalot continued his strong pace, crossing the finish line ten seconds ahead of Kohler and a little more than Kubota.

In the class fight, Cazalot triumphed also among the H-GTP&SC, while the lightweight Crossle 7S was second, and Paulo Rompante, who was seventh at the chequered flag, was third in his Alfa Romeo Ti Super. Kohler and Kubota were the top two among the H-1965s, with Eric Perou's Austin Healey 3000 completing the H-1965 podium.

The battle for the GDS-1965 glory was an equally interesting three-way battle, with Dominique Jouvin's Mini Cooper leading the first seven laps, until it was overtaken by the Porsche 911 SWB shared by Guilhermo dal Maso and José Carvalhosa. The pit stop changed the classification again, with the Mini driver taking the lead again, but only for a short time, as, on lap 16, Luís Sousa Ribeiro, who had a much stronger pace, overtook his opponent and placed his Ford Cortina Lotus in first place. Sousa Ribeiro was the winner of the GDS-1965, and the fifth to cross the finish line, followed by the agile Mini and the Garagem João Gomes' Porsche. However, due to a penalty, the Mini dropped to third and the Porsche moved up to second.

Pierre Macchi drove his elegant Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale, a model that in its time competed in such distinguished races as the Targa Florio or the 12 Hours of Sebring, to victory in the H-1961.

Pre '77: The Dominant AMA Racing Duo

Portuguese drivers Mário Meireles and Vasco Nina showcased their prowess in their Porsche 911 2.8 RS, asserting their dominance in the second "plateau" that featured Pre-1976 cars, including the Gentleman Driver Spirit (GDS), Turismos up to 1976, and up to 2000cc categories. Starting from pole position, the AMA Racing/Garagem Aurora duo exhibited their superiority over the competition by setting the fastest lap, comfortably winning the race, and clinching the H-1976 class.

Nuno Breda closely pursued the leading Porsche until the eighth lap when his RP Motorsport BMW 2800 CS encountered issues and had to retire to the pits due to a gearbox hproblem. This turn of events allowed Vincent Jimenez to take command of the H-1971 class and secure second place overall. The class podium ceremony also featured Spaniards Albert Pecanins and Jordi Puig in a Porsche 911, as well as Carlos Rivera in a BMW 2002 Tii.

The battle for third and fourth places in the 45-minute race intensified within the H-1976 class. The French duo of Mathieu Izidi and Rémi Guillot, driving a Porsche 911 2.7 RS, skillfully maneuvered past Paul Daniels in a Porsche 911 3.0 RS in the latter half of the race, securing second place in the class. Daniels, the English driver, encountered a scary moment on the final lap in the middle sector of the circuit but managed to finish without compromising his position.

Franck Biraben emerged triumphant in the GDS-1965 category, driving his trusty Porsche 911 R, finishing one lap ahead of the French duo Stéphane Codet and Jérôme Gouvet, who drove a Fiat 128 SF from the Portuguese TriSport team.

Sousa Ribeiro Triumphs in the Index of Performance

With the motto "Relaxed Historic Racing" and the aim of providing competitive and spirited classic races for Gentleman Drivers, the winners of Historic Endurance races are not solely determined by crossing the finish line first. Equally coveted is the victory in the Performance Index, a classification based on the characteristics of the competing cars. On the winding Pau circuit, Luís Sousa Ribeiro emerged as the winner in this classification, driving his Ford Cortina Lotus, and received a magnificent timepiece from the prestigious Swiss watchmaker Cuervo Y Sobrinos. The podium ceremony for the Performance Index, scheduled for Sunday, also featured second-place finisher Jérome Quiot (Ford Cortina Lotus) and third-place duo Jonny Horsfield and Alex Jupe (Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti).


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