Circuit des Remparts-angouleme Delage storms the French street circuit
Drivers mark respect after fatal crash on historic French track
Denis Derex’s death, after being taken ill and crashing his 1964 Mini Cooper S at Fangio, made for sombre racing at Angoulême with some drivers withdrawing out of respect. It got no better when Anna Tiger broke her shoulder after rolling her 1928 Ratier Monoplace at Carnot, and Frédéric Viginier flipped his 1927 Darmont Special, fortunately without injury. Otherwise, the 47th Circuit des Remparts, the track unchanged since 1939, saw large grids, rare cars and enthralling historic racing across its eight plateaux.
Delage 15 S-8
Uruguayan farmer Paul Emile Bessade was racing his ex-prince Bira Delage, having bought it from a private collection two years ago. ‘It has a curious history. The type originally was built in 1926, when four examples were made,’ he explained. ‘But in 1936 Bira, who owned two 1926 cars, approached Delage, then owned by Delahaye, who had nothing to offer save an upgrade. Its designer, Albert Lory, introduced independent front suspension and, in 1937, two more cars were built, this time by Rubery Owen for White Mouse Garage.
‘My car, number 5, has the engine from number 2 and major components from number 4. Bira found it uncompetitive and sold it to Reg Parnell in 1940. It subsequently passed through numerous hands before being acquired by Jean-claude Miloé in 1995. I bought it from him by private treaty when he decided to dispose of his collection’.
Lille-based classic car dealer Bruno Vendiesse bought this rare 1948 German sports-racer earlier this year. Said Bruno, ‘Today is its first outing. Although I know Angoulême circuit well, I first drove it at 25 in a Bugatti Type 35. The Veritas requires careful handling because the brakes need improving.
‘It’s a rare car, the only one in France, with a fully documented racing history – GPS, endurance, hill climbs and sprints. It was campaigned by André Chardonnet in 1948-50 and then Jacques Swaters in 1950-52. It was then owned by Antoine Bertrand who drove it until 1974, when it was bought by a friend of mine who restored and owned it for the next 44 years. I’m only its fourth owner.
‘It’s a superb track car and competitive in historic racing today. Aluminium-bodied and weighing only 600kg, with a 1971cc straightsix BMW 328 engine it produces 125bhp and has a top speed of about 134mph.’
DB HBR5 Coupé
François Fouquet-hatevilain inherited his unique 1958 HBR5 Coupé from his father. Said François, ‘He bought it from the Philippe Charbonneaux museum in Reims in 1999. Nicknamed “la Camionette” in 1958, because of its boxy rear end, the aluminiumbodied prototype was built by DB and raced with its works team in 1958-62 including the Targa Florio and Tour de France Auto from 1959 to 1961, the 1959 and 1961 Le Mans 24 Hours, and the 1960 and 1961 Nürburgring 1000km. In 1967 Charbonneaux acquired and restored it as a museum piece.
‘My father replaced the dualignition twin-cylinder Panhard engine with a single ignition unit and rebuilt brakes, suspension and electrics. We demonstrated it at the Le Mans Story in 2009. After he died, I prepared it for racing with a roll cage, replaced the windscreen, rebuilt the front axle and steering, and re-installed the Panhard engine.
Delage’s history includes a prince as a former owner
This is the only Veritas Rennsport in France