As part of the Historic Tour, the YTCC was a guest at Le Mans Bugatti circuit in early September. The Historic Tour includes at least 10 platforms for a French championship, including the Trophee Formula Renault Classic, F3 Classic, Challenge Formula Ford Historic, Sport Protoscup, Maxi1300 Series, Trophee Lotus, ASAVE GT, Tourisme & Production, Trophee GT Classic and the Youngtimers GTI Cup . In addition, at Le Mans there were guest appearances of the Roadster Pro Cup (Mazda MX5), Supertouring Revival and thus the Dutch Youngtimer Touring Car Challenge (YTCC). Le Mans has longlasting experience in terms of large startgrids, yet the Dutch YTCC impressed with a grid of 48 cars. This made it even the largest grid of the event.
Again, the variety of cars was enormous. It was obvious that the battle for the victory would be between the Canam McLaren M1C of Walter Hoffmann and the (ex Nelson Piquet Procar) BMW M1 of Ronny Scheer. Behind them were a good number of fast boys and a single girl with slightly less fast cars that could compete for the final podiumspot. With a time of 1.44.247, Hoffmann was almost 7 seconds faster than Scheer in practice, with Christian Marx (Triumph TR8 IMSA) more than 3 seconds behind, followed by French driver Walter Alexis (ALFA GTV6) at 0.8 seconds. The rest of the top 10 was within a few seconds. Striking was the handsome twelfth place of Anita Renes who skillfully qualified her little Sunbeam Lotus among all those big monsters. The three races were exciting. Not so much at the front, because Hoffmann always remained ahead of Scheer. The real fight was for the last podium spot, with success for Kasper Aaskov (Mercedes 190 EVO DTM) in race 1 and 3, and for Christian Marx (Triumph TR8 IMSA) third in race 2. But the best part was the fight in the rest of the field. Because despite the large variety of cars, almost everyone found a buddy (or a group of buddies) to be able to have a good fight for almost the full race of half an hour. After passing the finish line there were therefore only smiling faces. That was partly due to the fair way of driving. Three intense races of half an hour, with almost 50 very different cars, at the end of the weekend there was not even a scratch!
Compliments from an expert
Herve Guyomard, advisor to the ACO and director of the Le Mans circuit from 1971 to 2006, has already seen a lot on the famous circuit of La Sarthe. A nice moment was that he personally came to the YTCC paddock to view the cars and to compliment the organizers of the YTCC with the size and diversity of the field, but also with the sporting disciplines of the riders. To sum it up: “this series is Le Mans worthy!”
YTCC makes dreams come true
The YTCC has a number of very special cars, including some with a Le Mans history. Le Mans is a place where history was and is written. A location where emotions are released as the past is mentioned.
The tough Amanda Hennessy, for example, became equally emotional when she was invited for a photo session with her Chevrolet Corvette on Friday evening under the Dunlop Bridge. In 1968 her Corvette participated with starting number 4 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the team of Filipinetti, who could not get any Ferraris for the 1968 edition. He wanted to teach Ferrari a lesson: out of anger he bought two Corvettes, had them sprayed Ferrari-red, and subscribed them for the world’s most famous race. Amanda’s Corvette crashed hard after 14 hours just a few hundred meters from where the Dunlop Bridge now stands. According to Amanda, some folds of that crash are still in the chassis. Now, 50 years later, she was immortalized with her pride on the spot where the car was almost written off. A special moment.
The second emotional moment was around the Heron Ford GT40 Mark IV. In 1967 Ross Baker, living in New Zealand, saw on television how Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with their Ford GT40 Mark IV with starting number 1. Ross was immediately in love with that car. Unfortunately, he did not have the financial means to buy that car, so he decided to build a replica himself. He collected as many photos, articles and drawings from the car as possible to build his dream car on that basis. To this end he used materials and stuff that were available in New Zealand. The car equaled the looks of the original to perfection, but underneath there are not many similarities with the original Le Mans winner. For example, the engine is an eight-cylinder Ford, but this one originally comes from a boat! In the end it would take until the mid-eighties before the car was ready. Ross sold the car, other things were more important in his life at the time. After many wanderings, the car ended up in Russia via, among others, Germany, America and Belgium. Alexander Drogin, a Russian businessman and lover of special cars bought the car and had it restored in Latvia by Andris Stals, who now also operates as a team manager. This year they already participated in the YTCC races at Spa-Francorchamps, and for Le Mans they had invited Ross Baker himself. The 81-year-old car manufacturer (under the name Heron he built more than 100 racing and sports cars) came over from New Zealand to be reunited after 30 years with his dream car. And this took place on the very circuit where the original was so successful. Of course this was a visit with lots of emotions, which was well picked up by the organization, with a VIP treatment for Baker and his wife, including an interview by the speaker and photo sessions on the Le Mans podium and under the Dunlop bridge. It would be an unforgettable weekend for them.
Finally, the Alpine drivers of the YTCC also had their moment of emotional glory with a photo session under the Dunlop bridge. Alpine has a long history at Le Mans, culminating in the victory in 1978. So, in the end everybody was happy, some of us were indeed very very happy!