Brits star at the 'other' revival: Angoulême

| 21 Sep 2011

While the UK classic car world converged on Sussex for the Goodwood Revival, much of France was doing the same for the Circuit des Remparts in Angoulême.

This well-established event completely takes over the medieval south-western town in the Poitou-Charente region. Less well known is that it is itself a revival of a series of road races held either side of the war on a 1287-metre course with victors including Trintignant and Fangio.

Having closed in 1951, the circuit was re-opened in 1978 and regular competition restarted in 1983.

Now, as well as loads of on-track action – each grid named after a French racing hero – there are classic car displays in the town square and gardens, a concours d'elegance, and a Charentes rally that ends during the event.

Many UK historic racers are drawn to Angoulême and its mix of everything from all-Bugatti races (including one just for Brescias) to classic GTs.

The showpiece race for 2011 was the GT event, which Erik Comas won from pole in a 1973 Group 4 Alpine A110, including setting the fastest lap at 1 min 02.188 secs and finishing nearly 40 secs ahead of the chasing pack. Crowd favourite Comas also took the JP Beltoise class in the car, this time from the Porsche 911S of Damien Kohler and the Lotus Cortina of Louis Daniel.

Kohler had better luck in the Pescarolo class when he drove his Diva Ford F10 to a half-minute win over the Lotus Elan 26R of Philippe Ancelin and the Mini Cooper 'S' of Paule Kienert.

Brits dominated the Maurice Trintignant grid and took the first four places with Justin Maeers winning in his GN sport from Tim Greenhill's 1935 Wolselely Hornet Special and Dougal Cawley's 1921 Frazer Nash. There was a similar whitewash in the JP Wimille group with Charles Reynolds' 1933 Morgan Super Sports taking top honours.

It was all about homegrown men and machines in the dedicated French prototypes race, however, with Gilles Terrones' 1984 LRP B100 (the youngest car in the race by six years) taking victory from Serge Lenoir's 1978 Mambo LF278 and the 1972 SIB Barquette of Jean Jacques LeSage. None of the nine Fournie Marcadiers on the 17-strong grid finished higher than fifth.

A French Alpine 1800 driven by 'Mondy' held off British and German challengers to win the Larrousse class.

Nothing gets the Angoulême spectators more worked up, however, than the all-Bugatti grids. Britain's Chris Hudson just missed out on winning the GP car group in his 1925 35B, pipped to the top spot by Grégroy Ramouna in another T35B. There was similar disappointment for runner-up Julian Eckersley in the Type 13 race, which was won by Patrice Friedli.