Kiwis at Monaco
Words: Michael Clark
The number-one circuit that most Formula 1 fans want to visit has traditionally been Monaco — but what’s it like to race on? I caught up with my mate Roger Herrick, one of the quintet of Kiwis fortunate enough to have had their entries accepted for the 2016 Grand Prix de Monaco Historique — classic motor racing’s ultimate event that’s run bi-annually, a fortnight before the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Roger admitted that, once the excitement of getting the nod to send their cars off had sunk in, a concern as to how he’d cope with such a daunting circuit descended: “I started to become quite fearful of the track, and nearly convinced myself that the Kiwis would get blown off and all be at the back.” An opportunity presented itself for a track walk with Sam Hancock — a professional driver who had raced many times around the famous streets of the principality. Three of the Kiwis took up the offer, and shared Hancock’s tutorial fee. “We were discussing every corner, and he gave us markers to aim at, which was invaluable, because a lot of it is not instinctive,” Roger said. “For example, the bend in the tunnel is much more significant that you imagine when you’re watching Formula 1 cars go through.”
What Roger found is that — counter-intuitively — he had to be right over to the left, hugging the edge of the tunnel and not turning into the bend until way after the apex supposedly first appeared. Because of their tuition, said Roger, “the track came to us the more time we spent on it once we knew the lines and the points to aim at.” Not surprisingly, Roger is convinced that the cost of the track walk was worth every cent, especially when he explained how they were advised to approach the hairpin: “He said, ‘ brake as if you’re going to park it’ — that sort of inside information helped us enormously and turned what started out as trepidation into a real buzz every lap.”
And, far from bringing up the rear, the Kiwis all performed well, despite the fact that some of the cars they were competing against were nowhere near the specifications of front-engine juniors from 1958 to 1960. I was intrigued to find out if there was any mingling with the people running the super-valuable Formula 1 and sports cars, or if each ‘group’ kept to themselves. “The camaraderie was fantastic. The whole event is fantastic, and it was well worth all the trouble to get there,” Roger told me.
It’s on my list for May 2018 …