2nd octoBER 2015
DIJON MOTORS CUP
Planned in 1967, work commenced on Dijon-Prenois in December 1969. The track was part of a plan to make Dijon an automotive centre. It was the brainchild of rugby-player and wrestler François Chambelland, and was developed with the aid of racers Jean-Pierre Beltoise and François Cevert, as well as motoring journalist José Rosinski. In spite of lack of support from the city government and a chronic lack of funds, the track was declared open on 26 May 1972, with Guy Ligier making the first timed lap around the circuit. The first race, for 2-litre prototypes, was held ten days later. Arturo Merzario was the inaugural winner.
The first Formula One race was run in 1974 on the circuit's original 3.289 km (2.044 mi) layout; with the fastest lap times under the one minute mark, there was a major problem with congested traffic between the race leaders and the back-markers. Therefore, in 1976 an extension was added to lengthen the circuit as well as to reprofile many of its corners before the Formula One returned to Dijon in 1977.
The French Grand Prix alternated between Paul Ricard and Dijon, until the last F1 race at Dijon took place in 1984. The race was won by McLaren's Niki Lauda, who would win his 3rd and final World Championship that year. The fastest lap of the race was set by Lauda's team mate Alain Prost (1:05.257) at an average speed of 214 km/h (133 mph). Fittingly, the last F1 pole at Dijon was set by a French driver driving a French car, with Patrick Tambay recording a 1:02.200 in his factory Renault RE50 turbo. Tambay led the race for the first 47 laps before being passed by Lauda, the Frenchman eventually finishing 2nd, seven seconds behind the McLaren.
Long-distance racing continued, with a race in the FIA GT Championship held at Dijon in 1998. Although Formula One has not returned to Dijon since 1984, the circuit continues to be used today for club level events, motorcycle and truck racing.
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