2023 Historic Tour: Classic Racing Team mid-season review

Three rounds run, three to go: we’re right in the middle of the 2023 Historic Tour by HVM Racing. This summer break is an opportunity to take a look back of our first three meetings, but also to tell you more about the upcoming events.

Nicolas Leblond, Dulon LD4, Formula Ford 2023 Historic Tour.
Nicolas Leblond under Dijon’s heavy rain, on his way to the podium. (©Hugues Laroche)

2023 Historic Tour Dijon: a great start for the team

The 2023 Historic Tour season kicked off on the Dijon-Prenois circuit, scene of six Formula 1 Grand Prix between 1974 and 1984. A month after the French Historic Grand Prix at Le Castellet, the Classic Racing Team lined up three drivers: Nicolas Leblond in his Dulon LD4, Andreas Kunz in the Crosslé 20F and Maurice Slotine in the Lotus 69.

In qualifying, Nicolas put in the best performance for our team with fifth place. Andreas, competing in his first Historic Tour weekend as a driver, finished 11th, one place ahead of Maurice, who was new to the car.

The Classic Racing School at the 2023 French Historic GP

For the first race of the weekend (and therefore of the championship), our drivers took advantage of Michel Ghio’s DNS to make up one place. In a tight battle with Alan Crocker and Paul McMorran, Nicolas clinched fourth place, less than a second behind second! A frustrating result for our driver, but one that provided extra motivation for the following day. Andreas, in his first Historic Tour race, made a fine comeback from P11 to P8, beating all the drivers with a similar pace to his own. Maurice, meanwhile, finished just behind.

Nicolas Leblond, podium 2023 Historic Tour Dijon-Prenois, Formule Ford.
First podium of the season for Nicolas Leblond, on the right. (©Michel Naquet)

On Sunday, a surprise guest joined the party: rain! Ideal conditions for Nicolas, but full of questions for our other two less experienced drivers. Although the lap times were 20 seconds slower than the day before, Nicolas got the better of Paul McMorran to claim the Classic Racing Team’s first podium of the season. Andreas and Maurice, on the other hand, were on a different pace and finished at the back of the pack. No matter: the most important thing in such conditions is to learn and bring the car home, which was perfectly executed by our drivers, who came out of the weekend better than when they arrived. Next stop: Albi.

2023 Historic Tour Albi: same old, same old

Of the season as a whole, the 2023 Historic Tour round at Albi was perhaps the most eagerly awaited for our team. Last year, it was on the French Speedway that we scored our first two victories in the A category of the Formula Ford Challenge, with the Lotus 69 driven by Nicolas Hermet.

Andreas Kunz, 2023 Historic Tour Formula Ford Albi.
Andreas took advantage of the maximum speed of his Crosslé 20F to realise a strong weekend in Albi. (©Hugues Laroche)

Coming back a few months after our successes, we knew we had a tough task ahead of us. Despite Maurice’s absence, it was Nicolas and Andreas who were going to represent us. Why didn’t we expect to win both races? Because neither driver had ever raced on the Albi circuit. The track doesn’t present any insurmountable obstacles, but it’s its apparent ease that makes it difficult to create gaps. Victory is decided by the smallest details.

Unfortunately, the weekend got off to a bad start for Nicolas with a breakdown on his Dulon, relegating him to the back of the grid for the first race. A solid comeback saw him finish P5, while Andreas finished P7 after a very solid race, in which our driver kept pace with the cars in front of him. An excellent result given his lack of racing experience.

The following day, Nicolas took advantage of a better grid position to continue his comeback, reaching the podium for the second time in as many races. Andreas, for his part, scored his best result to date with fifth place, the reward for a weekend rich in learning. Full of confidence for the rest of the season!

2023 Historic Tour Lédenon: mixed results for the Classic Racing Team

Philippe Veber (Lotus 69), 2023 Historic Tour Lédenon Formula Ford.
The Lotus 69 was back on track at Lédenon with our rookie Philippe Veber. (©Hugues Laroche)

In mid-June, a true armada turned up on the Gard circuit, with no fewer than four single-seaters from the Classic Racing Team. Nicolas and Andreas, this season’s regulars, were joined by Philippe Veber (also competing in his first season) and Jean-François Comte, our most experienced driver.

With the absence of Charade from this 2023 Historic Tour, the Lédenon circuit is without doubt the most technical track on the calendar. In qualifying, Nicolas put his Dulon in fourth place. Our two rookies Andreas and Philippe were P8 and P10 respectively, while Jean-François was P11.

For the first race of the weekend, Nicolas confirmed his pace by crossing the chequered flag in the same position as at the start. Behind him, Andreas took advantage of Alan Crocker’s retirement and overtook Régis Prevost to take a fine sixth place, another solid performance after Albi. Philippe and Jean-François rounded off the top 10, in P9 and P10 respectively.

However, this good first day of solid performances was to give way to a more complicated Sunday. At the start of the second race, Andreas misjudged his braking and lost control of his Crosslé 20F, colliding with Nicolas’ Dulon. Our two drivers found themselves out of the race, but with more fear than harm. Jean-François (P8) and Philippe (P9) managed to complete the race.

Nicolas Leblond, Dulon LD4, 2023 Historic Tour Lédenon Formula Ford.
Nicolas Leblond fighting on track at Lédenon. (©Hugues Laroche)

Three meetings left to reach the top spot!

Initially comprising five rounds, the 2023 Historic Tour calendar was expanded during the season with the organisation of an additional meeting at Croix en Ternois, in the north of France, to mark the circuit’s 50th anniversary. From 8 to 10 September, our drivers will be back on track to discover this circuit that most of them have never driven on.

The season will conclude with two more traditional rounds: the fifth will take place at Magny-Cours (29 September – 1 October), a circuit we already visited earlier this season on the occasion of the Classic Days festival. Nicolas Leblond has set his sights on this date, with the aim of achieving a podium finish on his favourite track. The grand finale of the 2023 Historic Tour will take place at Val-de-Vienne from 20 to 22 October. It’s a circuit that didn’t do us any favours last year, but one on which we’re hoping to reverse the trend!