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Le Tour Auto - Albi - France

23rd April 2015

Event report by Raymond Bonnello

Genesis.

Created in 1899 under the aegis of “L'Automobile Club de France” and organized by par newspaper “Le Matin" “Le Tour de France Auto” is a stage race through France. This first edition ran in 7 steps in July over a distance of approximately 2.200 Kms. The route is a loop from Paris to Paris via Nancy, Aix-les-Bains, Vichy, Périgueux, Nantes and Cabourg. René de Knyff won on Panhard and Levassor. 19 cars starts (9 ended) and 25 motorbikes.

From 1906 to 1914 “le Tour Auto” will be organized 5 times, 1906 – 1908 – 1912 – 1913 and 1914.

Interim period.

Le Tour Auto restarts in 1922 organized by “Le Motocycle Club de France”, 30 competitors are starting with Cyclecars from 750 to 1100 CC. The race is again competed under this formula from 1923 till 1926 and from 1929 till 1937 without real success.

Renaissance.

After WWII, in 1951, “Le Tour Auto” is revived by “l'Automobile Club de Nice Côte d'Azur”. This new edition will be called “1er Tour Auto”. Now it’s real cars which take the start of the race. It will be the beginning of success. From 1951 to 1964 only the 1955 edition will not be organized (following the tragedy of Le Mans). During this period Ferrari won 10 overall victories, including 9 wins the 250 GT and GTO. Jaguar will distinguish itself, in Tourism, with its mark 1 and 2 (5 success).

From 1965 to 1968 the race will not be organized.

From zenith to death.

It was under the auspices of Bernard Consten (Winner of the Tourism category in 1961-62-63-64 driving his Jaguar Mark 2) that “Le Auto Tour” reborn from these ashes like a phoenix in 1969. He will remain the organizer until 1980. This time we just consider “Le Tour Auto” golden age. With winners (Gérard Larrousse, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Patrick Depailler, Jean-Claude Andruet, Sandro Munari, Bernard Darniche et Michele Mouton) on legendary cars like Matra 650, Ferrari 365 GTB4, Lancia Stratos, Ligier JS2 and many others in races (Ferrari 512 M and Ford GT 40).

From 1981 to 1986 the organization is assumed by “l’ASAC de Nice” and the newspaper "L'Equipe". This period sounded the death knell of the race as we know it. The last edition will see the victory of François Chatriot / Michel Périn on a Renault 5 Maxi Turbo.

Historic revival

It will be necessary to wait for 1992 to see again the caravan of “Le Tour Auto” on French roads and circuits. For this 51th edition, the first of the historical era organized by Peter Auto, 128 cars leave from Paris to join Nice.

Since the success has not denied, in 2015, is not less than 225 competitors are from Paris to join Biarritz. This year's “Le Tour Auto” will step in Paris, Vichy, Clermont-Ferrand, Toulouse, Pau and Biarritz. The organization includes adding special stages which are only known at the last minute. Several circuits will be visited, Magny-Cours, Charade, Albi and Pau-Arnos.

Each edition puts in honor of the particular models having made the glory of "Le Tour Auto".

"Le Tour Auto 2015" and peter Auto highlight barchettas.

The first of them is the 1953's Jaguar C Type of Ecurie Ecosse (Adam LINDEMANN/Charlotte LINDEMANN), presents one of the four Maserati A6 GCS (François COINTREAU/Patrice COUSSEAU) factory built in 1954. Are added one Porsche 550 A (RICCI

/Frederic STOESSER) and one Lotus Eleven of 1956.A Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica 1954 (Thomas HARRINGTON/Oscar LEFEBVRE) and a Maserati 200 SI 1957 (Tomas HINRICHSEN/Solange MAYO) complement the pack of barchettas whith will start.

The 250 GT Berlinetta 1960 (chassis 2129 GT) (Adrian BEECROFT/Susan ROY) which won Tour de France in 1960 with Willy Mairesse and Georges Berger.

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Other winner, the Ligier JS2 which imposed in 1974 with the crew Gerard Larrousse/Jean-Pierre Nicolas/Johnny Rives.

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Few prestigious Ferrari will participate as Ferrari 250 GTO 1962 (châssis 3527 GT) witch finished seventh in 1962 with Lucien Bianchi/Claude Dubois, 212 Touring Berlinetta 1951, 225 S 1952, 365 GTB/4 Spider NART 1972 (24h of Le Mans 1975) or a 365 GTB4 Gr.IV 1973 ex Ecurie Francorchamps.

America will be represented by Ford GT40 and AC Cobra lend to fight for the victory.

Alpine, Aston Martin, Austin Healey, Chevrolet, De Tomaso, Gordini,Lancia, Mercedes and many other brands will be on the roads for public enjoyment.

Outside cars, renowned drivers will be also on the starting line.Jürgen Barth (Le Mans winner in 1977), Gérard Larrousse (Double Le Mans winner in 1973/1974 and three-time Tour de France auto winner 1969/1971/1974), Jochen Mass (Le Mans winner in 1989), Olivier Panis (F1 driver 1994/2004 and Monago GP winner in 1996).

Le Tour Auto 2015 it is ended on Saturday with the victory of the crew Jean-Pierre Lajournade/Christophe Bouchet on his Jaguar E Type 3.8 #202 before Ludovic Caron/Charles Villaucourt AC Cobra 289 #201.

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In Regularity we saw the victory of the Alpine A110 1600S # 81 of Jean-François and François Nicoules in front of in front of the sister car # 82 of Georges Henri Meylan/Julien Stervinou..

The 24th edition in photos.

It’s on the Albi circuit I'm going to meet “La 24eme edition du Tour Auto Optic 2ooo by Peter Auto” in this Thursday, April 23th.

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