TEXT: CARLOS DE MIGUEL, UNAI ONA / PHOTOS: UNAI ONA
Abbeys, chateaux, churches, delightful towns, winding roads, circuits and spectacular landscapes have been intermingled again with the more than 250 classics that took part in the start, divided into two regularity grids and another two speed grids. So Tour Auto, the king of classic rallies from the old continent.
This 2018, the generic reason has been the Italian automotive. To the usual ones Ferraris 250, 275 or Dino, Lancias Fulvia, Aurelia and Stratos, o Alfa Romeos GTV, they have been joined by several not so common parts to see such as a Ferrari 250 MM, a Lancia Flaminia Super Sport Zagato, a Maserati 200Si, two splendid Osca 750 Sport trailers and a 1600GT Zagato that remained in the first stage , as well as two beautiful Nash Healey Roadsters.
Leaving the Grand Palais in Paris, the different stages had the finish in Besançon, Megève, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and, finally, Nice.
During these eight years we have been able to forge a small friendship with the members of the Repsol Classic Team, as we encourage and go with our countrymen. Thanks to this, and to them, we have been able to enjoy and follow the rally itself more closely: the early rises, the hasty lunches to follow the route, or the little adventures of the team's mechanics, Rober and William, capable of fine-tuning the mechanics of the drive many times in the wee hours of the morning.
One day in Auto Tour 2018
For the early risers, the stages begin at 6:30 in the morning, with connecting sections until the most colorful sections "Secrets." As a photographer I will say that it is not difficult to find them, since the organization itself puts the control points on the web one day before. As a remedy if you are clueless, you can always follow one of the rolling jewels to the point of marshall. Regarding the public, the fans that travel to these sections are simply massive.
In its wake, the Alpine, Gt40 and powerful Shelby sound the "Wow" from the people, but the ones that get the most ovations are the small Panhard, the Peugeot 203 and 204 coupe, and the one that took the cake in its wake, the Citroen 2cv Type A from the French François Allain and Robert Puyal.
Apart from the beautiful road sections, another of the inescapable points of Tour Auto are the circuits, where speed grills take center stage. For the calmest, there are stops at castles, abbeys, control points, or the closed parks themselves, where all the participants can be seen placidly ... But if you want adrenaline, large doses are distilled in lso circuits.
The winners, both absolute and relative
In the victories section, the total triumph was taken by the Swiss crew formed by Raphael Favaro and Yves Badan in their Lotus Elan 26R, taking advantage of the gearbox problems of the seemingly invincible Gt40 that made him retire after scoring 10 of the 14 possible victories. Second position for the French Frédéric Jousset and Paul Miliotis in their Shelby Cobra 289, and third place for Damien Kohler and Sylvie Laboisne in another Lotus Elan 26R.
Regarding speed, the French team made up of Patrick Hautot-Sylvain Cantrel won Group G1 and G2 in their Ford GT40, while Americans Cooper Mac Neil-Gunnar Jeannette sealed the victory in Group H1 / H2 / I in their Porsche 911 RSR 3.0L. Finally, Jean-François and Chloé Pénillard in their Porsche 356 Pre-A Coupé were the first in the Performance Index.
In the Regularity category, victory went to the French team Jean Rigondet-Olivier Souillard, who dominated from the first to the last day of the rally in his CG 1200 S. Nicolas Pagano-Michel Périn's Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV was placed second, and Tomas Hinrichsen and Solagne Mayo with the Maserati 200 SI beat on the Index of Performance
After watching the French test for several years, we don't get tired; Once the 2018 edition is finished, we are already looking forward to the 2019 edition with the same enthusiasm and enthusiasm. The PeterAuto team always surprises with spectacular landscapes, emblematic circuits and of course, the best selection of classics to enjoy.
We hope that next year, ours will achieve the long-awaited podium or victory (now some of the protagonists will tell you why). We will be there to tell it again! Then we leave you with the first-hand experience told by Carlos de Miguel.
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One more year, almost. By Carlos de Miguel
One more year the Auto Tour. An exciting race in which I have already participated 19 times. You can't say I don't know her. Again we were the only Spanish team at the start. And another year, as happened in the 2017 edition, in which Luis Delso and I have run out of a podium that we already caressed. Again we are presented with the Alfa Romeo Giulietta from 57. A compact and beautiful car of the line, very manageable in curves and tremendously competitive in the classification of the index of performance. A category that, with the establishment of a handicap based on the year of manufacture and the cylinder, tries to equalize the possibilities of all the participating cars.
Again our greatest enemies they were two Porsche 356 Pre A, lightened to unthinkable limits and that, in theory at least, are equipped with 1.500cc engines .. But in reality on circuits they fight with the two-liter 911. Surprising!. Fortunately, one of them had a mechanical problem and, for the dispute for second place, we got our Giulietta and an Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale from a French driver who is very knowledgeable about the timed tests in his country.
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Our engine, very competitive on circuits, was not overly operational on the road sections as it did not have power below about 3.500 laps. This slowed us down to third position, in which, nevertheless, we were very comfortably settled as we overtook the Triumph TR4 that was marching behind us by more than a minute. And so we come to Friday, the penultimate day of the race when, at the Paul Ricard circuit, the clutch break caused gearbox will end out of use. If last year our abandonment was the last day in Pau, when we were second, this time the podium fell away from us again in the absence of only three special road tests.
As they say, it's racing. But we will be back. The Tour Auto is engaging and is, for me, the most beautiful and competitive road classics race in the world. We may not enter the same car, as after three years of fighting in this class with the Giulietta, it might be a good idea to change saddle and head for another classification. We'll see. There is a year to prepare it. But we will be sure! [/ Su_note]