On their marks in the paddocks! The 12th edition of the Dix Mille Tours on the Paul Ricard circuit was run in blazing sunshine and searing heat in which the drivers did battle out on the track. Once again, it was another great event enjoyed by 15.000 spectators who flocked to the circuit to feast their eyes on the 330 gleaming racing cars and meet up with the drivers all fighting fit after the summer hiatus. The clubs too turned up in large numbers with almost 460 cars that came to take advantage of the Var layout before facing the return to the daily grind! A last look back at the on-track action to find out about all the race incidents and the grid classifications.
In the single 45-minute race reserved for the Fifties’ Legends, the expected duel between Eugène Deleplanque’s TVR Grantura MK3 and Christian and Félix Godard’s Cooper T39, materialised to the delight of the crowd until the TVR dived into the pit lane for the second time victim of its engine. From then on nobody could prevent Christian and Félix Godard from clinching victory in their lovely little English sports car dating from 1955. They were followed home by the Austin Healey 100 S driven by Sébastien Berchon and the Morgan Plus 4 Super Sports in the hands of Stanislas Gurdjian and Gonzague Ruchaud, which had fully recovered from its mechanical issues at the start of the weekend. The quickest of the Austin Mini Cooper Ss driven by Fabrice Quesnel finished just shy of the podium.
1) Christian and Félix Godard (#70) / Cooper T39 / 1955
2) Sébastien Berchon (#100) / Austin Healey 100 S / 1954
3) Gonzague Ruchaud and Stanislas Gurdjian (#110) / Morgan Plus 4 Super Sports / 1961
Battle raged over two hours late on Saturday afternoon and while the E-Type Jaguars riposted as expected early on, the English cars then fell by the wayside one after another mostly victims of overheating. This left the Shelby Cobras and Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupes to duke it out at the front. From the off the race was marked by the collision between Michel Lecourt and Pierre-Alain France leading to the retirement of the #33 and #70 Daytona Coupes. Most of the event was dominated by Olivier Galant also at the wheel of a Cobra Daytona Coupe. His main threat came from the Shelby Cobra in the hands of Urs Beck and Patrick Simon, which ate into the Daytona coupe’s lead at the end of the race, but was given a penalty for non-respect of the pit stop time in the pit lane. Galant was completely exhausted as he took the chequered flag and he gave full vent to his joy as he came first in the overall classification from Beck-Simon and the Shelby Cobra driven by Sébastien Demole and Antoine Weil! Damien Kohler and Richard Depagneux were less fortunate because they looked to have third place secured until an unfortunate spin on the last lap and starter problems led to their retirement leaving yet another Shelby by the wayside. After the retirement of Briton Simon Evans, Eugène Deleplanque won the 2.5-litre category in his Lotus Elan 26R imitated by Belgian Serge Libens in his Austin Healey 3000 MKII in Pre-63 GT.
1) Olivier Galant (#1) / Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé / 1964
2) Urs Beck and Patrick Simon (#369) / Shelby Cobra 289 / 1965
3) Sébastien Demole and Antoine Weil (#88) / Shelby Cobra 289 / 1964
CLASSIC ENDURANCE RACING II
The duel between the two Toj prototypes in the CER2 race did not take place on Sunday morning on the Paul Ricard circuit. While Yves Scemama stayed in the wake of Dominique Guenat early on, #52 ground to a halt due to technical issues. All Dominique Guenat had to do was to nurse his lead that was more than a minute over the under 2-litre prototypes, a category won by another Toj driven by Franck Morel who managed to stay ahead of the Chevron B26 in the hands of Briton Nigel Greensall who lost too much time during the obligatory pit stop. The BMW M1 Procar of Sebastian Glaser dominated in GT2 after seeing off the early threat of the striking De Tomaso Pantera Gr.5 with Ralf Kelleners at the wheel until the beautiful Italian car succumbed to technical issues. ‘John of B’ and Soheil Ayari’s Ferrari 512 BB LM and the Porsche 935 K3 shared by Jean-Marc Merlin and Yvan Mahé completed the podium in the category.
1) Dominique Guenat (#49) / TOJ SC303 / 1978
2) Franck Morel (#131) / TOJSC206 / 1977
3) Nigel Greensall (#21) / Chevron B26 / 1974
THE GREATEST’S TROPHY
The Listers were the hot favourites for the two races in the Greatest’s Trophy on the Paul Ricard circuit and the English cars did not disappoint. Alain Rüede from Switzerland whose Lister was powered by a Chevrolet engine dominated race 1 while in his wake Saif Assam from Canada beat Belgian Anthony Schrauwen by a whisker in the battle opposing the Jaguar-engined cars. Peter Vögele finished just shy of the podium in his Porsche 904 GTS ahead of Sébastien Berchon’s Lister Jaguar Knobbly.
In race 2, Alain Rüede looked like he was going to repeat his previous day’s success, but a gear selector problem decided otherwise. Anthony Schrauwen came out in the lead after the obligatory pit stop, but Saif Assam ate into the gap separating them and overtook the no. 14 Lister Knobbly. So the Canadian national anthem rang out in the Var! Sébastien Berchon crossed the finishing line in third place, but was hit with a heavy penalty because he failed to respect the pit stop time and this let Yves Vögele in his lovely Porsche 904/6 Carrera GTS onto the last step of the podium. Christian Dumolin from Belgium came out on top in the battle between the Ferrari 250 GTs and finished the race in the top 5.
1) Saif Assam (#17) / Lister Jaguar Knobbly / 1958
2) Anthony Schrauwen (#14) / Lister Jaguar Knobbly / 1958
3) Yves Vögele (#58) / Porsche 904/6 Carrera GTS / 1964
ENDURANCE RACING LEGENDS
The first of the two Endurance Racing Legends events was the theatre of a spectacular scrap between the Audi R8 LMP, Riley & Scott MK III Cs, the Courage C60 and the Ferrari 333 SP for overall victory. And while Emmanuel Brigand looked in a secure lead in the Riley & Scott, he spun allowing Dutchman David Hart into first place in the #34 Courage who went on to win the race from the Audi R8 LMP driven by Erik Maris and Brigand’s Riley & Scott. Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac’s Ferrari 333 SP was less fortunate and was forced to retire due to gearbox glitches. Olivier Galant’s impressive Panoz Esperante GTR1 totally dominated the Grand Touring category after getting the better of the two Aston Martin DBR9s driven by Richard Meins and Franz Wunderlich.
The same cars went at it hammer and tongs again on Sunday with David Hart in the Courage C60 making a lightning start, but Erik Maris then slotted into an unassailable first place in the Audi R8 LMP. While the Riley & Scotts in the hands of Emmanuel Brigand and Xavier Micheron posed a threat early on in the race they fell back and the Audi went on to an uncontested victory as Maris paid honour to the pedigree of the protyotype with the 4 rings badge, winner at Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series in 2002. Hart looked like he had second place sewn up, but an all-fired up Raymond Narac in the Ferrari 333 SP snatched it from him in view of the finish! Olivier Galant scored a comfortable second victory in the Grand Touring category in his spectacular Panoz Esperante GTR1 from the brace of Aston Martin DBR9s driven by Richard Meins and Franz Wunderlich. It’s worth mentioning the class victory in GT2C of multiple touring car world champion Gabriele Tarquini who is the current Team Principal of Hyundai in the FIA WTCR. He was driving an Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT2. Jean-Pierre Jarier, alias ‘Lead boots’ and Stéphane Ortelli put on an amazing performance in the Venturi Trophy 400 they shared during this sun-drenched weekend.
Classement Général au podium :
1) Erik Maris (#3) / Audi R8 LMP / 2002
2) Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac (#33) / Ferrari 333 SP / 1999
3) David Hart (#34) / Courage C60 / 2002
2.0 L CUP
While the 2.0 L. Cup has a semi-endurance 90-minute format, don’t be fooled as the 2-litre Porsche 911s at the start do battle as if it were a sprint, which leaves the final outcome indecisive right till the very end! All the more so as the obligatory pit stop time of the ‘Elite’ crews is longer than that of the Gentlemen. While Brits Seb Perez and Nigel Greensall were obliged to retire early on in #41 due to a blown engine, #62 driven by Andrew Smith and Olly Bryant as well as #77 crewed by Mark Sumpter and Andrew Jordan had to fight off the best of the Gentlemen first of all starting with Spaniard Christian Coll (#74) before beginning the final sprint to the flag. Jordan managed to get the better of Bryant and the two cars crossed the finishing line separated by just two-tenths-of-a-second! What a scrap. Christian Coll won the Gentlemen’s category from British drivers Bonamy Grimes (#116) and Matthew Holme (#9).
1) Mark Sumpter and Andrew Jordan (#77) / Porsche 911 2.0 L
2) Andrew Smith and Oliver Bryant (#64) / Porsche 911 2.0 L
3) Christian Coll (#74) / Porsche 911 2.0 L
GROUP C RACING
On Saturday afternoon spectators enjoyed an explosive race on the Paul Ricard circuit starring Olivier Galant’s Jaguar XJR-12 and the two Porsche 962 Cs driven by Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac and Yvan Vercoutere and Ralf Kelleners. After the obligatory pit stop Olivier Galant led the dance, but he was soon pulled in by Lecourt and then Kelleners setting the scene for an all-Porsche duel. Kelleners pulled back second after second on Narac and found a way past two corners from the chequered flag! The battle was a perfect example of fair play and the teams in question congratulated one another on the podium! Erik Maris, winner of the C3 class, came home fourth in his Peugeot 905 Evo1 bis, while Philippe Colançon clinched victory in C2 in his Tiga GC289.
Although Olivier Galant roared off from pole position Michel Lecourt led the race in his Porsche 962 C until his pit stop. Once all the cars had carried out their obligatory halt Galant confirmed his first place until he suddenly rejoined his pit with a broken gearbox. The duel between Raymond Narac and Ralf Kelleners resumed and this time the Frenchman got the better of the German by a mere six seconds! So the victory score was one all after the two races and they put on one hell of a spectacle during the weekend! Franck Morel scored a great podium finish in his Spice SE90C, while Philippe Colançon won the C2 class again in his Tiga emulated by Hans-Jörg Hübner at the wheel of his Porsche 962 C in Class C3a.
1) Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac (#82) / Porsche 962 C / 1990
2) Ivan Vercoutere and Ralf Kelleners (#21) / Porsche 962 C / 1990
3) Franck Morel (#8) / Spice SE90C / 1990
CLASSIC ENDURANCE RACING I
Nigel Greensall (Chevron B19) started from pole position in the CER1 race, but the British driver was soon swallowed up by the quickest Lola T70s as well as the superb Porsche 908/03 driven by Marc de Siebenthal. Armand Mille took up the running in his #35 T70, was never headed and went on to score a dominant victory. Behind him, however, things were much more indecisive. The German duo of Frank Jacob and Arnd Meier put on a stunning performance in their Lola T210 and took second place from the Lola T70 of Philippe Giauque who was omnipresent among the front-runners. After falling back down the time sheets, Greensall made a brilliant comeback and clinched fourth place overall and second spot in the under 2-litre prototype category behind the Lola driven by Jacob and Meier. Toni Seiler (Lola T70) completed the top 3 in the over 2-litre prototype class, while Serge Kriknoff (Lola T212) filled third spot in the under 2 litres. The Porsche 911 Carrera RSRs dominated in GT with victory going to Jurg Aeberhard and Rémy Terrail from Didier Denat and Luca Littardi and Claudio Roddaro.
1) Armand Mille (#35) / Lola T70 Mk III B / 1969
2) Franck Jacob and Arnd Meier (#2) / Lola T210 / 1970
3) Philippe Giauque (#110) / Lola T70 Mk III / 1967
HERITAGE TOURING CUP
In qualifying, Franz Wunderlich and Michael Kammerman came out on top in their #138 BMW 3.0 CSL. Unfortunately, the Bavarian car made only a fleeting appearance in the race as it ended up in the dead car park all too soon! This left the way open for the Ford Capri RS3100s with Armand Mille dominating once again before giving way to Belgian Emile Breittmayer. Yves Scemama met with less success as he was forced to retire when his rear axle broke. The two Capri RS3100s #123 and #37 went at it hammer and tongs until Breittmayer suffered from a blocked accelerator at the end of its travel twice and he was forced to let Mille head on to victory. Thus, the young Frenchman won the last two races of the meeting in very impressive style. Breittmayer managed to save second place as he was able to stay in front of the BMW 3.0 CSL in the hands of Dominique Guenat. In Group A, Johannes Schouten emerged victorious without problems in his BMW 635 CSi emulated by Serge Libens, this time at the wheel of a Ford Mustang 289, in TC1.
1) Armand Mille (#37) / Ford Capri RS 3100 Cologne / 1974
2) Emile Breittmayer (#123) / Ford Capri RS 3100 Cologne / 1975
3) Dominique Guenat (#49) / BMW 3.0 CSL / 1975