At the end of April, around 240 legendary racing cars gathered for the 27th time at the Paris Grand Palais for the technical inspection of the Tour Optic 2000, one of the fastest and oldest road races ever since 1992. The participants have to cover more than 2100 kilometers and do quite a few regularity rides, sometimes slower, sometimes very fast. Around 10,000 spectators came to the Grand Palais to marvel at the temporary Automobile Museum of extraordinary race cars. This year, the field of participants focused on vehicles that had once participated in the Tour de France, such as BMW, Ferrari, Alpine, Ford GT40, Jaguar E-Type and MKII, Lancia Stratos, Ligier JS2, Porsche, Shelby Cobra, but also Italian racing legends of the brands Cisitalia, Autobianchi, De Tomaso, Osca, Lombardi and Siata. An impressive picture in the Grand Palais, where the Paris Motor Show once took place.
The 2018 route took the participants for a week on beautiful roads to the south of France. On the first day to Bourgogne, with a stopover in Besancon. The second day went over the Haute Savoie to Megève. Then we continued south, with a section that ended in Avignon, followed by a passage to Aix-en-Provence on Friday and the last section on Saturday, which ended in Nice.
On the first day, the participants in the Chateau de Courances near Paris set off for the challenging rally. The first section takes the participants on a 461 kilometer long teistück the rally. Already for the first lunch the participants had to complete a special stage on the circuit of Dijon-Prenois.
After the first leg used by the entrants to get the measure of their cars and the event, the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo left Besançon and set off for the first stage of the day named “Altitude 800” between the Levier and Dampierre-les-Tilleuls communes.
The crews headed up into the mountains in the second leg as they crossed the Jura and then continued to climb uphill to the Mégeve ski resort. Today they came down to the plains to compete in the third leg, a distance of 487 kilometres. The day’s programme included two special stages and races on the Lédenon circuit after which they headed for the parc fermé installed in the ramparts of Avignon.
The Tour Auto Optic field edges ever closer to the milestone of 2000 km covered since Paris. After overnight halts in Besançon, Megève and Avignon, the crews continued downhill to Aix-en-Provence in the fourth leg.
In keeping with the regulations of the event the entrants in the Regularity category set off first on two days of the rally. Thus, they were the first to enjoy the warm welcome of the spectators massed along the route. During the day the entrants drove alongside meandering valleys in the Luberon, made detours through Provençal villages, enjoyed a lunch break in the majestic Couvent Royal de Saint Maximin, a former Dominican convent dating from the XIIIth century, before arriving at the Paul Ricard circuit where thousands of fans awaited them.
Here the drivers were able to measure themselves against a track that will host the return of the French Formula 1 Grand Prix on 24th June. This was especially true for those in the Competition category who were able to give full rein to their skills behind the wheel and the power of their cars.
The 27th Tour Auto Optic 2ooo ended on Saturday with three special stages in the Provencal hinterland and the finish on the Place Massena in Nice. The 239 crews that took part left the Grand Palais in Paris five days earlier: they will take away unforgettable memories of the route that gave them the opportunity to discover the most beautiful roads in France. On their journey from the French capital to Nice with stopovers in Besançon, Megève, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence they drank in the beauty and variety of the landscapes they crossed. They all shared exciting moments at the wheel of the cars they had carefully prepared for the new 2100-kilometre route. And among them were the lucky few who tasted the magic thrill of victory!
Swiss crew Raphael Favaro-Yves Badan in their Lotus Elan R26 emerged victorious in this human and sporting adventure. They were in second place on Friday, and they took advantage of the gearbox problems that hit the Ford GT40 driven by British crew, Andrew Smith-James Cottingham, in the second-last stage of the rally. The victors of the 2017 event had to retire after scoring 10 out of the 14 wins possible. Only their fellow-countrymen, Chris Ward-Andy Elcomb (E-Type Jaguar), were able to challenge their domination by clinching victory in two stages. Their hopes of a finish on the 2018 Tour Auto Optic 2ooo podium were dashed by a retirement on the Paul Ricard circuit. Thus, first place in the overall classification went to the Swiss duo Raphael Favaro-Yves Badan in their Lotus Elan R26 from French pair Frédéric Jousset-Paul Miliotis (Shelby Cobra 289), and Damien Kohler-Sylvie Laboisne (Lotus Elan R26).
French crew Patrick Hautot-Sylvain Cantrel won Group G1 and G2 in their Ford GT40. Americans Cooper Mac Neil-Gunnar Jeannette sealed victory in the H1/H2/I Group in their Porsche 911 RSR 3.0L. Jean-François and Chloé Pénillard (Porsche Pré A) came first in the Index of Performance.
In the Regularity category victory went to French crew Jean Rigondet-Olivier Souillard (CG 1200 S) who dominated from the first to the last day of the rally. Nicolas Pagano-Michel Périn (Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV) scraped home in second place after coming under pressure from the Argentinean pairing, Tomas Hinrichsen and Solange Mayo (Maserati 200 SI) victorious in 2017, who won the Index of Performance.