British racing driver, Sam Hancock, fought from the back of a thirty five car field to finish seventh in the pre-1978 Formula 1 race in last weekend’s Monaco Historique Grand Prix.
The prestigious event, held on the very same streets of the principality used by the modern Grand Prix cars just two weeks later, is a bi-annual affair and features grids for both single seaters and sports cars from multiple eras in celebration of Monaco’s rich motor sport history.
Racing a historic grand prix car for the first time, London-based Hancock qualified his 1977 DFV-powered Fittipaldi F5A on the front row of the grid, just a few tenths of a second behind seasoned winner Michael Lyons.
Disaster struck however on the warm-up lap when Hancock lost clutch pressure rendering him unable to do a standing start. With no choice but to fall to the back and roll through the pit lane in order to keep the car moving while the others took the start, Hancock joined the race at the back of the pack.
Proving that overtaking at Monaco is indeed possible, he set about scything his way through the field, setting provisional fastest laps along the way as soon as traffic allowed. Up to seventh by lap sixteen, his progress was curtailed when a Safety Car period suspended racing while crash debris was cleared. Unfortunately the wreckage was too great to clear quickly and the chequered flag fell without racing being resumed.
“ That was great fun. Bitter-sweet because while it was exciting fighting back through the pack, I’m sure I could have picked a few more off if we’d been able to race all the way to the flag. Even better would have been not to loose the clutch and start from the front as I’m sure Michael and I could have enjoyed a great fight for the win. With a bit of luck I’ll be invited back in a couple of years to set the record straight! My congratulations to Michael though on an impressive performance - and for annoyingly pinching fastest lap by a tenth right at the end there! Most importantly though, many, many thanks to all those who helped pull this weekend together. A lot of people, especially my Dad and the Chamberlain Synergy boys, worked their butts off to make this happen and it’s kind of nuts that they have to stand and watch while I get to di the fun bit! I really do want to thank them enormously for this really special life experience.”