MOTOR SPORT: Drivers Jean Ragnotti and Bruno Saby deliver their memories for the 50th anniversary of the Dijon-Prenois circuit

This Wednesday, October 12, former racing drivers gathered to meet the public.

“The Pouas curve is the most complicated corner that exists in the circuits in the world”, points out Jean Ragnotti.

Inaugurated in 1972, the Circuit Dijon-Prenois has hosted the biggest world events since its beginnings, with in particular the 1,000 km of Dijon in 1973, counting for the World Endurance Championship. A year later, the first of seven Formula 1 Grands Prix brings together an incredible crowd.

The Circuit is also the scene of stages in the car and motorcycle Tours, as well as cycling, with the Tour de France three times, and hosts the ETCC, the WTCC, the European and French Truck Championship, the F3000 or the DTM again.

Qualified by pilots from all over the world as one of the most beautiful tracks, it is also one of the most demanding in France. The Circuit has therefore seen legends ride on its asphalt such as Niki Lauda, ​​Ronnie Peterson, Henri Pescaloro, Jacky Ickx, Jean Pierre Beltoise, Jacques Laffite, Jean Pierre Jabouille, Alain Prost or Giacomo Agostini…

« I have three wins here at Dijon-Prenois»

Jean Ragnotti also drove in Dijon. Crowned with eight championship titles in various categories, « Jeannot », his nickname, has an important track record achieved in particular on the Circuit de Dijon-Prenois

“I had the pleasure of driving in 1975 with a victory in Formula Renault Europe, in 1981 another victory in the Renault 5 turbo in the European Cup version, and in 1989 with the R21 turbo 4X4. So I have three victories here at Dijon-Prenois, it’s a circuit that has counted a lot in my career.

“But I must say that the Pouas curve is a big difficulty. It’s the last curve before the straight to join the pits. It is very long, it closes a little with a bump in the middle, it is the most complicated corner that exists in the circuits in the world.

« It’s a circuit that I really liked, but I also have very pleasant taste and liquid memories, you have a region that really lends itself to the pleasures of the table. »

« This is my Proust madeleine»

Bruno Saby also came to the Circuit de Dijon-Prenois. This Grenoblois is to date the only world champion to have won the three most prestigious events in motor racing: the Tour de Corse in 1986, the Monte-Carlo rally in 1988 and the Paris-Dakar in 1993.

“I won here in Prenois, in 1974, an event called Le Volant. I participated with people who rode every Sunday on the circuit. I didn’t know the site or the car, and I took this Steering Wheel, which was a car to be won for a rally season. But unfortunately I did not do this season since this rally did not take place for financial reasons.

“But my memories of Dijon are all these drivers that I met in different disciplines. Boys like Jacky Ickx or Gérard Larousse whom I saw again today on the occasion of this anniversary is a real joy. I have flashes of Dijon-Prenois which come back to me more often compared to other circuits where I have however reported more awards. It is somewhat for this reason that I came. It’s my Proust madeleine. »

Norbert Banchet
Photos: N. Banchet

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