The 2015, Tour Auto was another triumph for Patrick Peter and his organisation. The route this year was from Paris down through western and central France arriving in Biarritz 5 days later. The two general categories, Competition and Regularity were both won by French entrants. JP Lajournade scooped the Competition prize in a stunning E-Type 3.8L and Regularity was won by JF Nicoules in a little buzzing Renault Alpine. Indeed the Tour Auto is really turning into a French Mille Mille with hundreds lining the routes and cheering and waving. The main event sponsor, Optic 2000 had arranged many short stops in the most stunning of rural French villages and towns.
The event, as usual takes in a mixture of racing circuits and tricky hill climbs. The attrition rate was high this year with many Competition cars coming off and many Regularity entrants suffering breakdowns. The Anthony Pozner/David Forfar Ferrari 275GTB/4 alas, was no exception as was trailered to a Bosch specialists to rectify an electrical fault. Still the 275 made it to Biarritz.
The circuits this year were Magny-Cours, Charade, Albi and Pau Arnos. These tracks were all tricky but largely suited the more nimble cars such as the 911s and Alpines.
French fashion aficionado, Franscois Pourcher and his co-pilot, Duran-Duran star, Simon Le Bon had a fantastic week. A well-known motorcycle enthusiast, Simon was on his first classic car event. He absolutely loved it and was decked out in de-rigour white racing trousers and a variety of Rommell like caps and sunglasses. The car was sensational, an Old English White, XK120 from 1950. Simon commented on his event: “I just finished Le Tour Auto. Paris to Biarritz via Vichy, 5 days, 4 circuits, 7 hill climbs in a 1950 Jaguar XK120 – no top, no power steering, drum brakes all round, Moss crash gearbox and steel racing pipes. My arms and ears are ringing. But, I did learn to heel & toe, double declutch downshifting while braking. With my Pilote, Franscois Pourcher, we did the whole thing without technical support, but did not break down once. We saw plenty of other competition cars by the roadside with bonnets up, or on low-loaders – their rallies over. However this car (XK120) was built in Coventry by the same people who five years earlier were building fighter planes and bombers to send against the Axis in WW2. They knew a thing or two about reliability, as an engine or part failure then would probably cost someone their life. They applied the same skill and rationale when they built the XK120. We looked after the car and she looked after us.”
Simon had a whale of a time and, in very British style had his Pilote screech to a halt while travelling along the route, ten or so cars behind all came to a halt as there was no room to overtake. Why the sudden stop? Well, how could you not stop to take a picture of a road sign which tells you you have arrived in St.Pee/S.Niffle. That was the joke for the rest of the event. Mr Le Bon is very certainly converted to the 4-wheel mode of classic transport. Everybody was very excited to learn that Simon is working with the other guys in Duran Duran and that a new album will be out in September along with Tours this summer.
See you all next year!