For me, this was the first big event that I was covering as a photographer. To add to my elation, Tour Auto Optic is the most beautiful historical motoring event in France, and perhaps also in the entire of Europe (safe to say this since Britain is now not Europe, or else it would have been Goodwood.
When the men in their gorgeous cars were racing down the tarmac, it was quite the race for me too, on foot, or in a car, as I tried to follow the crew for the first three days of the race. The only directional help I had here was from the road book that had the map and directions of where the cars would be heading to and when they are expected to reach there.
More than the start and the end point, for me it was a race to the right spot on the route where I could position myself perfect for the photographs of the competitors and their cars flying down the roads. The events start very early at around 7 am and end at around 8 pm each day. It was a good training in order to be ready for the 26th edition of Tour Optic that will be taking place between April 24 – 30, 2017. You should keep your eyes open for my coverage of the same here on ColumnM.
Since it was the 25th anniversary of Tour Auto Optic 2000 last year, the tour ran through a new route for the 230 crews that were taking part in the event. The finish for the event was through a spectacular night stage on the famous rally roads in the Côte d’Azur hinterland, an area prominently known for the French Rally Championship and the Historic Antibes Rally.
On this occasion homage paid to special cars that wrote written the legend of the Tour like the Ferrari 250 GT Competizione, the Jaguar 3,8 l MKII and the Ligier JS2.
In keeping with tradition the 2016 Tour Auto Optic 2ooo began on Monday 18th April with the cars on display in the Grand Palais in Paris. The next day (Tuesday 18th April) the crews left the French capital at the crack of dawn to go to the official start at the Château de Courances.
They then set off on French roads to do battle in the timed events (competition or regularity) on 4 circuits (Dijon-Prenois, Bresse, Lédenon, Paul Ricard) as well as 11 special stages on closed roads. Every year the route of the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo is changed, and in 2016 it included Beaune, Lyon and Valence after which the competitors arrived on the Mediterranean coast as the fourth leg will end in Marseille before heading to Croisette in Cannes towards the finishing line after a journey of over 2000 kilometers.
Tour Auto Optic 2016 in Figures
1951 to 1973 : Period of eligibility of the cars a model of which has taken part in the Tour de France Automobile
2000 : The average length in kilometres of the route of the 25th Tour Auto Optic 2ooo
230 cars in the race + 100 service vehicles & 80 for the organisation
More than 800 people follow the rally including 140 from the organisation
More than 100,000 spectators along the route
More than 650 rooms and 1700 meals per day
80 officials and 60 people in the organisation
21 nationalities from five continents: France 50%, Great Britain 17%, Switzerland 10%, Germany 7%, USA 5%, Italy 5%, Benelux 2%, rest of Europe 2%, rest of the world 2%
More than 250 accredited journalists and photographers (Grand Palais + Tour Auto) representing some 10 nationalities