Opening the throttle on the 126 CB for the first time in thirty eight years
Watch René Arnoux take to the track once again in his beloved 126 C2B
“From my position at number 10 on the starting grid, I focussed on the starting lights: I managed what was perhaps the best start of my career, and was immediately in the group of the best,” Arnoux recalls, his eyes laughing at the memory.
The French pilota arrived at the first curve in seventh position, then he overtook the Lotus of Elio De Angelis and gained another position – reaching fifth – after Andrea De Cesaris withdrew in his Alfa Romeo. In a short time, René closed in on, and soon overtook, Cheever’s Renault, a feat he repeated with Riccardo Patrese, who was at the wheel of the second Brabham.
At that point Arnoux was gaining quickly on Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost, in Brabham and Renault respectively, who were battling each other.
The name says it all: René Arnoux, the 1983 star of Zandvoort
The pace of the Ferrari was very good and from the pit it was decided to stop car number 28 to maximise the advantage and attempt what is today called an “undercut”: stopping before your rivals to get a new set of tyres and then trying to overtake them when they make their own pit stops.
“I took a pit stop,” René continues, “and the mechanics were fantastic. They refilled my tank and changed my tyres in 10 point one nine seconds, the fastest time of the day, by a wide margin. That way I returned to the track with a faster pace than before without having lost a single position – it was a masterpiece.”
The first time René climbed into his 126 CB, he spoke to the Cavallino Rampante: It's just you and me...we will do great things
"It was so nice having been able to get behind the wheel of the 126 C2B. This car is a time machine allowing me to return to 1983. They were happy, adrenaline-filled days."
“It’s impossible to forget my first test here,” he says about his first time in Fiorano. “I entered the 126 C2B and the first thing I noticed was the Cavallino Rampante on the steering wheel. It came naturally to me to speak to it. I told it: ‘Finally, it’s just you and me. Let’s try and get along and we will do great things.’ The Cavallino didn’t answer, but the test went fine.”
A brief pause ensues; then Arnoux adds: “So, once more getting behind the steering wheel of the same car, I looked at the legendary Prancing Horse symbol on the steering wheel and I spoke to it again, 38 years later, at my tender old age of 72. I said: ‘Hello my friend, we meet again! I missed you, let’s go take another fast drive.’ Then I put first gear and pulled out of the box.”