Five days, 2200kms, three circuits and 10 special stages. Tour Auto 2018 is the best way to experience historic motor racing and grand touring all in one action packed week that defines one of France’s best classic cars events. The 27th edition of the Tour Auto Optic 2000 took place from 23 to 28 April 2018. The 239 competitors that participated in this year’s grand tour started from the Grand Palais (Paris) towards Nice, via stages in Besançon, Megève, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence, Provence. Along the way, the circuits of Dijon-Prenois, Bresse, Lédenon and Castellet were also part of the festivities as the pack moved from one side of France towards the other.
All of competitors (and myself) shared moments of emotion behind the wheel of their patiently prepared cars to travel the 2,100 kilometres of a new course. Last year, the organisers celebrated former French brands. This year, it was the turn of the Italians to hold the top of the bill with Autobianchi, De Tomaso, Osca or Siata as the auto manufacturers of the past that were well-represented brands.
For me, 2018 was my third year of participation in the Tour. A beautiful edition littered with landscapes and breathtaking road with a mild and sunny weather. Like not forgetting our passage by the Col des Aravis, the Mont Ventoux, the small roads of the Vercors or by the Col du Turini.
As Patrick Peter pointed out at the press conference, the cars entered were “a little less” prestigious due to the constant increase in the value of the rarest (difficult to hire cars to several million euros on these distances or the mechanics are subjected to severe tests). Nevertheless, some exceptional cars were present such as for example a Ferrari 250 MM Berlinetta as well as a monstrous Shelby Cobra Daytona, one of the six that were ever produced and carrying the CSX 2300 chassis number.
Quite a few cars with smaller displacement were present too in the form of a Citroën 2CV, a Fiat 600 or a Honda N600.
Once again, it was a very intense week. While it might not look like so when seeing Tour Auto from the outside, you have to realise that the days are indeed very long, quite literally. Everyday, the tour starts from 6 am and rounds up sometime around 9 pm in the evening, even later some days.
On top of that, Tour Auto isn’t the same as covering an event on the circuit, its just not that simple. On a racing circuit, if you miss to capture a car once, you don’t need to worry so much as surely the car would make a return on the next lap, unless it crashes. Here, if you miss a picture, you miss it for good. The only time you can hope to get that frame again would be next year, provided that the same car returns to Tour Auto and you are placed at the exact same place as the previous year. It’s hardly likely that it would be so… and that uncertainty is the very charm that keeps you motivated and alert all the time when you cover the incredible grand tour.
The tour passes through some of the most beautiful location in the country, hence one must always be on the prowl for a good sport amidst the gorgeous landscape to find the perfect frame before the cars get there. All this to say that it was a very beautiful 2018 edition also full of rebound in the ranking. I cannot wait for April 2019 for the next edition of Tour Auto. In the mean time, we have a lot of other exciting events to look forward to.
The only downside in my point of view is that the Tour often partners with car makers who bring forth a convoy of their latest, greatest and most powerful modern cars. While I do understand that this is a necessary evil, it still adulterates the charm of classics and period-correct motoring to a certain degree. But then, this mix of old and new will hopefully soon find an equal balance to co-exist without being dangerous on the roads or taking away the charm of this gorgeous classic event. Head over to Peter Auto to view the results for this year’s categories.