Ki­wis at Monaco

New Zealand Classic Car - - News -

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 …

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