Patrón Highcroft Racing founder Duncan Dayton claimed his ninth and tenth victories on the streets of Monaco yesterday – dominating both of his events in the bi-annual Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.
The reigning American Le Mans Series LMP1 champion team owner already held the record for the most wins ever around the streets of the famous Mediterranean principality prior to the weekend’s events.
But Dayton made it a perfect 10 by taking his ex-Graham Hill 1959 Lotus 16 and 1970 Brabham BT33 historic Formula 1 machines to victory lane.
After being inspired as a young child to get into motor racing being taken to see the movie “Grand Prix” by his father, Dayton originally fulfilled a lifelong ambition to drive at Monaco in 1997, taking a Cooper T67 Formula Junior car to victory.
He won again in 2000 aboard a Brabham BT11 Climax V8 and drove his Lotus 16 for the first time in 2002 – actually finishing second. Since then, however, he has been on a huge winning steak in the front-engined machine – taking five wins in a row.
Dayton won in the Brabham BT11 again in 2004 and has now notched three consecutive victories aboard the BT33 – winning in 2006, 2008 and now this year.
“When I first drove out the pit lane for the first time in 1997, the thought of winning at Monaco was merely a dream – let alone the possibility of taking ten victories here,” Dayton said.
“You hope that you can do well, but it is such a special place and I was just excited for the opportunity to race there.
“Taking both wins on the weekend was an amazing feeling. To stand on the podium again to hear the national anthem was pretty special.”
After a gearbox issue in qualifying pushed him back to third on the grid for the Class B race for Pre-1961 Front engined Grand Prix cars (1947 – 1960), Dayton quickly made up for lost time on the opening lap, sprinting into the lead in the run up the hill to the Casino on the opening lap and charged to victory.
“I was fastest in the morning session on Saturday in the Lotus but it got stuck in fourth gear I eventually got it into neutral and coasted to a halt,” Dayton said.
“The guys at Hoole Racing in the UK who prepare the car for me worked on repairing the gearbox and we decided to skip the second session to concentrate on getting ready for the race.
“I had a blazing start and was able to get into the lead going up the hill and never looked back.
“I was expecting a huge battle with my rival and good friend Joaquin Folch, but he clashed with another car and then had a similar gearbox problem as well.”
Dayton was second behind ex-BTCC champion Frank Sytner in first qualifying session on Saturday aboard the Brabham BT33, but then was 1.8 faster than the field in the second session in Class F for Pre-1975 Formula 1 machines.
He lined up second behind Sytner on the grid and chased the Brit on the opening lap before the Hensketh driver clipped the inside barrier on the apex of the corner before the Monaco tunnel. Dayton pounced on the error and was able to slip through into the lead.
“I was a little bit worried about being able to catch Frank because his Hensekth is a 1974 car and obviously a lot more modern than my 1970 Brabham,” Dayton said.
“When he clipped the barrier it pushed him sideways and he had to get out of the throttle. That was the opportunity I needed and I was able to grab the lead by the time we exited the tunnel.
“I wasn’t sure whether he had damaged his car, but I had to push like hell because there were another couple of guys who were really quick.
“We had a mid-race safety car which pulled the gap back but I was able to stack up the guys behind me and get a good jump on the field after the swimming pool section before the restart and was able to then pull away.
“The Brabham is great to drive around there. To have that Cosworth DFV pushing you up the hill is really an awesome feeling.
“The guys at Hoole Racing and Restoration did a brilliant job as always. I am so fortunate to have my top notch guys back home in the shop in Danbury and also have a great team in the UK to rely on as well.”
Dayton will return to the other side of the pit wall for the next round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 22.
He’ll hand over the driving duties to joint championship leaders David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud at the Monterey circuit. Patrón Highcroft Racing’s endurance specialist Marino Franchitti will also be aboard the car for the six-hour enduro.
“We have some great memories from winning the ALMS championship at Laguna last year. This year we are out for the win and then set our sights on the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Winning at Monaco was an amazing feeling, but we now are very keen to target a win for the team at the 24 hour.”
Courtesy ALMS © RIF