Circuit de Charade
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The old, 8.055 km version of the track
|Location||Clermont-Ferrand, Auvergne, France|
|Time zone||GMT +1|
|Major events||French Grand Prix (1965, 1969-1970, 1972)|
|Length||3.975 km (2.470 mi)|
|Length||8.055 km (5.005 mi)|
|Lap record||2:53.4, 166.751 km/h ( Chris Amon, Matra, 1972, Formula 1)|
The Circuit de Charade (also known as Circuit Louis Rosier and Circuit Clermont-Ferrand) is a motorsport race track in the Auvergne mountains in France near Clermont-Ferrand, the home of Michelin and Patrick Depailler.
Built in 1958 around the sides of an extinct volcano, the originally 8.055 km (5.005-mi) long Charade was described as an even twistier and faster version of the Nürburgring. Some drivers like Jochen Rindt in the 1969 French Grand Prix complained of motion sickness, and wore open face helmets, just in case. But 1970 was no better- Rindt was hit in the face by a rock, something that the circuit was usually littered with, and often caused punctures on the track.
The French Grand Prix motorcycle racing events were held at Charade from 1959 to 1967, and 1972 to 1974.
In his 1969 book Motor Cycle Racing, Peter Carrick wrote:
"The French Grand Prix circuit at Clermont Ferrand was seen to be in complete contrast to the lap at Monza, when it was first used in 1959: the longest straight was 650 yards and a variety of really tight corners quickly demonstrated—or exposed—a rider's skill!"
In 1964, the VI Trophée d'Auvergne Formula 2 race podium was a sign of things to come: Denny Hulme, Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt showed their skill before the track hosted the 1965 French Grand Prix.
In total four Formula One French Grands Prix were held at Charade: 1965, 1969, 1970 and 1972. Due to drivers cutting corners, a stone thrown from Emerson Fittipaldi's Lotus hit Helmut Marko in the eye during the 1972 French Grand Prix, ending his F1 career, as well as that of the circuit. The stones also had caused ten deflated tyres, but no big crashes. The French Grand Prix moved back to the new Paul Ricard Circuit, where the French Grand Prix was held in 1971.
Formula 3, sports car racing, and touring car racing as well as rallying and hillclimbing continued there until the 1980s when the original layout was criticized. Due to the layout on the side of a mountain it was not possible to build larger runoff areas, a similar problem as at the old Nürburgring. In 1980, three marshals were killed at a touring car race, and in 1984 the drivers protested. The last race on the 8 km track was held on September 18, 1988.
A 3.86 km (2.4-mi) abbreviated version of the circuit is still in operation, having hosted the FFSA GT Championship in 1998.