The woman that conquered the Monaco GP: Claudia Hürtgen wins at Historique GP
The Monaco GP continues to be one of the most prestigious events of the motorsport calendar – and women were a big part of the latest edition of the Historique Grand Prix, when Claudia Hürtgen returned to the top step of the podium after 20 years in the Principality.
Monaco. There are few motorsport venues that changed so little over the past century, for obvious reasons. The advert banners may have changed but portions of the track remain the same to this day. Every race is a special experience there, even more so when the history of the track is mirrored by the roaring classic racing cars of the past. The Monaco Historic Grand Prix 2022 was held between 13th and 15th of May and again saw a great variety of historic formula and sports cars as well as ambitious driving by the racers behind the steering wheels. And ambitious, close racing was shown in the first race of the day, the Group B - mid-engined 1500cc GP cars from 1961-1965 & F2 cars from 1956-1960. It was the closest of races between the Lotus 21 of Mark Shaw and the Ferrari 1512, driven by Joseph Colasacco. They could be covered by a towel until lap 9 of 10, when Shaw missed the line slightly before turn one while covering Colasacco and ended his race in the barrier of Sainte Devote. Colasacco could have cruised home after that but had to avoid lapped cars on the last metres until he finally crossed the line in 1st position. Second place went to Drake (Cooper) ahead of Beaumont (Lotus). What a start to the race day! The second race was Group A1 (pre-war GP cars and voiturettes) and started in similar fashion. Nicholas Topliss (ERA) took the lead and was able to keep it in a very close battle with Mark Gilles (ERA) until in lap 9 of 10 he suffered a puncture while lapping Chanoine (Riley). Subsequently Gilles took home victory in what had developed into a thrilling race with cars sliding all over the place, wrestled by skilled men and women. Those drivers really showed what the term "fearless" means. Second place was kept by Anthony Sinopoli (Maserati), third went to Patrick Blakeney-Edwards (Frazer-Nash). Nicola von Dönhoff (Bugatti, P10) and Julia de Baldanza (Bugatti, P15) held up the flag for women racers in this group.
Next up was Claudia Hürtgen from pole position for the A2 Group (front-engined cars before 1961) in a Ferrari. She had a brilliant start and led the field through turn one. The race developed into a very fast one with Tony Wood and Joaquin Folch-Rusinol following Claudia closely. Lapped cars then played a role in increasing the gaps between the leading drivers until in the final corner of lap 8, eìwhen several cars tangled and the race had to be stopped a lap later with only one more lap to go. Claudia Hürtgen crossed the line in 1st place and was not shy to show how much it meant to her. She was joined on the royal rostrum by Tony Wood (TEC-MEC) and Guillermo Fierro-Eleta (Maserati). Niamh Wood (Cooper) and Julia de Baldanza (Maserati) finished in 17th and 18th position.
When the green racing cars were untangled at Antony Noghes corner the grid was set for Series D (Formula One cars, 1966-1972), where Stuart Hall had set a qualifying time almost 2,5 seconds faster than anybody else. Behind him it was much closer with ex-F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez in P3 with a BRM. Again the drivers showed great determination, throwing the cars around Monaco´s streets on the edge of the grip of the giant rear tyres.
Unfortunately the race ended in the barriers for some precious cars as David Shaw had to experience in his March with just one lap to go. Stuart Hall got through all of the trouble unharmed, finishing in P1 with his McLaren. P2 went to Michael Lyons (Surtees), Jordan Grogor (Matra) took P3. The schedule went on with Series E (Formula One cars 1973-76) and some very famous names on the grid. While Stuart Hall (McLaren) was on pole position again there also were the likes of Roberto Moreno, Marco Werner, Jean-Denis Deletraz or Emanuele Pirro taking the start. Werner (Lotus) followed the McLaren of Hall closely for the whole race, but was not able to launch an attack. Brilliant racing on display by all of the top-runners. In the end it was 1,5 seconds between Hall and Werner while the battle for 3rd was a close one between Lyons (McLaren) and Moreno (Lotus), who received a 10 seconds time penalty for jumping the start.
After a break for demo runs and the infamous Charles Leclerc's incident who crashed Niki Lauda's Ferrari due to a broken brake disc the race of Series C (front-engines race cars 1952-1957) was set.
Again, Claudia Hürtgen was on the grid – this time in a Maserati - starting from P5 while Frederic Wakeman had set the fastest qualifying time in his Cooper, closely followed by Lukas Halusa (Maserati). Katarina Kyvalova started the race in her Cooper-Jaguar from P13. A very close race unfolded between Wakeman and Halusa with just 1,5 seconds between them in the end. 3rd went to Guillermo Fierro-Eleta again while Claudia finished 5th and Katarina in P14.
Back to the more modern F1 cars of 1977-1980 and Series F, where Max Smith-Hilliard put the Fittipaldi on pole followed by Lyons (Hesketh) and Shaw (Williams). Unfortunately the impressive pole-sitting Fittipaldi went into the pits after the formation lap due to technical problems. The start saw two Williams cars tangling while everyone else appeared to get going well. One of the Williams later sparked a full course yellow when it ground to a halt. All this was no distraction for Michael Lyons who drove his Hesketh to a win, his 7th overall Monaco Historique victory. Behind him Cantillon (Tyrrell) and Mowle (Lotus) finished in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The final race of the day was Series G (F1 cars 1981-1985) with some of the most exciting Formula One cars of all time, for example the infamous double-chassis Lotus 88B which was never allowed to race back in 1981. Marco Werner was able to take the pole position in a Lotus followed by Lyons (Lotus) and Shaw (Arrows).
On lap 14 Shaw unfortunately crashed the Arrows in Tabac after running over debris left by a Williams one lap earlier in the exit of Nouvelle Chicane bringing out a full course yellow. He was lucky to escape unharmed. So in the end there was a Lotus 3-way-victory with Marco Werner winning the race in the 1982 Lotus 87 in front of Michael Lyons (1983 Lotus 92) and Nick Padmore (1981 Lotus 88B).
Again, the Monaco Grand Prix Historique was a brilliant display of historic racing cars, driven at the limit in historic grounds. Many of the competitors will now prepare for the next big meeting at Goodwood. See you there!