Cir­cuit des Rem­parts-an­gouleme De­lage storms the French street cir­cuit

Drivers mark re­spect af­ter fa­tal crash on his­toric French track

Classic Cars (UK) - - Contents -

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’.

Ver­i­tas Rennsport

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

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