DAYTON TARGETS 10th VICTORY I MONACO HISTORICS RETURN Monaco1 DANBURY, CT, Tuesday, 27th April, 2010: Highcroft Racing's Duncan Dayton already holds the record for the most wins ever on the streets of Monaco with eight victories, but the boss...
DAYTON TARGETS 10th VICTORY I MONACO HISTORICS RETURN
Monaco1 DANBURY, CT, Tuesday, 27th April, 2010: Highcroft Racing's Duncan Dayton already holds the record for the most wins ever on the streets of Monaco with eight victories, but the boss of the reigning American Le Mans Series championship-winning sportscar team has his sights set on a perfect 10 when he returns to the principality for this weekend's 7th Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.
While Dayton has stepped out of the sportscar cockpit to leave the driving duties to David Brabham, Simon Pagenaud and Marino Franchitti for Patron Highcroft Racing, his talent behind the wheel in historic machinery remains strong.
The Grand Prix de Monaco Historique is held every two years on the same circuit as the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix and staged two weeks before the F1 event. Dayton took a Cooper T67 Formula Junior car to victory in the first ever event in 1997 and has backed that up with seven additional victories including four in a row aboard his ex-Graham Hill 1959 Lotus 16 Formula 1 car and two in a row aboard Sir Jack Brabham's last Formula 1 car, the 1970 BT33.
Monaco2 Dayton will again compete in two races on the weekend - entering Class B for pre-1961 front-engined Grand Prix cars with the Lotus 16 and Class F for pre-1975 Formula machinery with the Brabham BT33.
"Monaco is a very unforgiving place. There is no run-off anywhere and it is surrounded by armco fencing so you can't make any mistakes," Dayton said.
"For some reason I just feel very much at home in Monaco. It is a great rhythm circuit and I feel very comfortable driving around there. It is something that just sort of came to me naturally and I have had the good fortune to run some very good cars there over the years.
"My first victory was quite amazing to me because I qualified third or fourth and didn't think I had much of a chance. I also had a bad start and was back to sixth or seventh and passing at Monaco is extremely difficult. I was able to move up through the field and ultimately win it.
"Last year was also a very tough race in the pre-1975 F1 race. I had one of my toughest rivals Joaquin Folch right on my gearbox throughout the entire race - it was a great battle."
While Highcroft Racing has now established itself as the leading professional sportscar team in America, the company's roots began in historic racing. Alongside the recent Long Beach winning HPD ARX-01c chassic at the Danbury, CT shop you will see historic machinery - both cars owned by Dayton and other machines being prepared and restored for customers.
Monaco3 Dayton last competed in the American Le Mans Series for his own team at Sebring in 2007. He now leads the team to victory from the pit stand.
"It is certainly different - watching the guys win at Long Beach recently was an amazing feeling but getting behind the wheel in historic cars is a great thrill as well," Dayton said.
"In and out of the car both have unique challenges and are equally satisfying. They are separate pleasures but getting to drive at Monaco is incredibly rewarding.
"Monaco is what really got me into racing in the first place when I saw the movie 'Grand Prix' as a child. Those opening sequences that Frankenheimer filmed on the split screen was what really motivated me to get into racing as a young boy.
"To now be able to race there is incredible."
First run in 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix is the longest running street circuit event in the world. The small principality on the Mediterranean first staged a round of the Formula 1 World Championship in 1950 with Juan Manuel Fangio taking his first world championship win. The circuit has been a permanent part of the F1 championship season since 1955 and will host this year's modern race on May 16.
"I can't imagine how quick the modern F1 cars are around this circuit. Everyone thinks going up the hill after the first corner is a straight - its certainly not in our historic cars and it must be incredible in a modern F1 car," Dayton said.
"We're doing 165mph in the 1970 Brabham and that is incredibly quick between the armco and the modern cars are significantly quicker that that."
Following this weekend's Monaco event, Dayton will return to Highcroft's Danbury headquarters to prepare for the next round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 22.
The Californian circuit is a happy hunting ground for Patron Highcroft Racing - the team clinching its 2009 LMP1 championship win at the venue. This year's race has been extended to a six-hour duration and moved to May from its old October date.
An even bigger European challenge then looms to Dayton - leading his team to contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in June with the factory-backed Honda Performance Development entry.