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18th-19th May 2013 - Charade Circuit

Grand Prix Historique de Charade

The historic circuit of Charade played host to the third and fourth rounds of the European Historic Formula Three Championship over the weekend of May 18th and 19th. A disappointing entry of twelve F3s was received, many of the UK contingent preferring to take part in the Classic Racing car event at Silverstone.

Louis Maulini and Christophe Widmer made up the Swiss contingent; Francois Derossi and Maurice represented France; Roland Fischer and Klaus Bergs Germany. The Swedes had three contenders, with Ferdinand Gustafson having made the long trek to Charade from Sweden; while both Leif Bosson and Clas Muller’s cars are UK based. The remaining three entries were from the UK; Dave Methley with his familiar Merlyn, Jim Timms’ Brabham and the Vesey of Keith Messer.

Friday provided plenty of time for testing, and gave Louis Maulini the chance to run his 1966 Cooper T83; Messer managed to break the input shaft coupling after five laps, and looked to be out for the weekend until Jim Timms suggested that the one in his spare Brabham BT21 could be used. An epic six hour operation ensued, with Keith and Steve Wilkinson first dismantling the gearbox and diff on the Vesey, and then doing the same to the Timms Brabham, before putting the Vesey back together.

Qualifying on Saturday morning took place in wet and windy conditions which allowed Methley to demonstrate his car control, ending up some three seconds clear of Maulini in his earlier Merlyn who had just shaded Derossi. In spite of a misfire, Fischer was next up in his familiar Tecno and then quite a gap back to Jim Timms with Widmer a further three seconds behind him. Gustafson and Messer were well matched, separated by just half a second; behind them was Slotine who was ‘breaking in’ his rebuilt engine. The final three places were occupied by the Brabham BT28s of Bosson, Bergs and Muller.

Saturday afternoon’s first race again took place in the wet and was led away by Methley closely followed by Maulini, a fast starting Fischer and Derossi. Unfortunately around the back of the circuit there was a coming together involving Maulini, Fischer and Widmer, which sadly eliminated both Maulini an Fischer, and scrambled the safety car. Order was quickly restored and Methley built up a lead ahead of Derossi; a spin by Methley briefly allowed Derossi to close but the Englishman had a minute in hand at the end. We lost Slotine (no fuel pressure), Messer (broken pushrod) and finally Gustafson (gravel trap). After all the excitement Jim Timms (or Jeem Teems as the commentator had it) drove well to come home third ahead of Widmer who had been badly held up in lap one kerfuffle. Bosson had a lonely race finishing ahead of Bergs and Muller.

Sadly Ferdinand Gustafson would be unable to take the second after mechanical problems, Maulini was allowed to run his Cooper; Fischer’s Tecno had been straightened after some tender ministrations from Filoche. There was much discussion about tyres all morning as the weather continued threatening, but after consulting Christophe Widmer’s weather ‘App’ everyone but Slotine opted for dries.

Saturday’s non finishers were to start from the back of the grid, but again it was Methley who led away, this time ahead of a fast starting Jim Timms who was being harried by Derossi. Fischer was slicing through the field and soon caught up with Timms who had been passed by Derossi; at the highest part of the circuit a mixture of water and oil caught Roland out and in the ensuing moment he and Timms came together. Fischer was eliminated on the spot, whilst Timms was able to make it back to the pits where he retired with deranged rear suspension. If this was not enough Bosson and Slotine wanted the same piece of track; Bosson lost his nose but continued much delayed, while Slotine continued with a damaged oil system and losing oil. Ahead of all this action Methley and Derossi drew away, finally finishing well clear to repeat their race one positions. Widmer and Messer had been battling for several laps until Widmer spun and was collected by the sole Formula Ford, this slowed them both and allowed the recovering Slotine to come past into third place. Messer then set after Slotine, but in the last few laps the rain arrived starting with a light drizzle but became heavier, which probably gave Slotine, on his wets, the edge. Widmer wound up fifth ahead of Maulini who had a good run in his Cooper; Muller finally got the better of Bergs after a race long battle, when Bergs had a half spin.

Two excellent races, with a season’s worth of excitement. Charade is a superb circuit and was well worth the trip, another classic circuit ticked off the list.

The social event of the weekend was Ferdinand Gustafson’s seventy third birthday celebrations which took place on Saturday afternoon; hospitality provided by F3 Historic, cakes and candles courtesy of messrs Derossi and Bosson.Next stop the Nurburgring June 14th-16th.   

Mike Faloon

View Results and Timings (as a PDF document) [PDF]