Words and Photos| Raphael Belly
In spite of the name, “10000 Tours”, the older classic cars that participate in this event are not doing 10,000 circuit laps. This name is there to remind that most of the committed cars are old track machines, or classic GTs who hide the soul of a racer under their beautiful, protected shells. They have earned their time on the circuit, now is time to celebrate their history.
The 10000 Tours of Le Castellet is a very young event since this year it is only the 3rd edition. In spite of its youth, the event organized by Peter Auto stood out from the very start as impossible to miss for all the lovers of classic racing cars. This year, the event attracted more than 12,000 people.
And the least we can say it is that Peter Auto does not skimp on the event: not less than 6 categories are again present this year. But the two big novelties of this 2012 edition are the categories “Nineties Red” and “Historic Formula One Championship”.
Although we said that the committed cars were not going to do 10,000 laps on the Paul Ricard circuit, this event is not a simple parade; for every category, there are free tries to take your marks, then qualifying tries, and one or two races as well (it depends on categories).
The only Ferrari categorie “Nineties Red” gives you a duel between two Ferrari models of the 90’s – the F40 (4 are committed) and the 333SP (6 are present).
It is a great tribute to the F40 since it is celebrating its 25th birthday this year. A 25 year old car but an icon, for it never could be considered an old-fashioned design.
The name “333” comes from the engine size: 333 cubic centimeters by cylinder, “SP” means Sport Prototype. The 333 SP was made in contribution with Dallara (an Italian car manufacturer), with the unique aim to drive in the IMSA championship with client teams. No 333 SP ever raced officially for the Scuderia Ferrari. It can be compared nowadays to the XX Programmes.
Only 40 were made, that’s why it’s a unique opportunity during the 10,000 Tours, to see 6 of them. The chassis was very close to that of a Formula 1, just a little bit bigger. The easiest thing to recognize for the public is the high-pitched noise of the 333 SP at 10,000rpm. A legend says that it was audible throughout the entire seven kilometers of the Spa Francorchamps ractrack.
Contrary to the other categories, the “Nineties Red” is a consistency competition, it is necessary to get closer to a reference time at every lap. This turns out rather logical because the F40 and 333SP do not have the same level of performances, it would be thus inequitable and useless to judge them together on a common stopwatch. The F40 got out of it best as we found the 3 F40s in the lead in every race throughout the weekend.
Another surprise is the participation of the Historic Formula One Championship, dedicated to Formula 1 cars between 1966 and 1985. The FIA Historic Formula One Championship is at the pinnacle of historic motorsport. Its fans get a taste of classic Formula 1 witness the thrilling sights and sounds of cars driven by legends such as Gilles Villeneuve, Nigel Mansell, Emerson Fittipaldi and Keke Rosberg.
The Championship features great Grand Prix cars re-creating the show of the legendary 3 litre Formula 1 era on the great Paul Ricard racetrack. We thus find models mythical as the Brabham BT49C (1981), the Williams FW08 from 1982, or the Osella FA1-D. There were only 6 cars on the starting grid but all drivers fought to get the best position in a characteristic of the roaring single-seaters. The Williams FW08 did not stand out in the race on Saturday and is outdriven of 30 seconds by the Brabham BT49C. The next day it stands out 20 seconds ahead from the Osella FA1-D.
Three endurance categories are also here. Classic Endurance Racing 1 (CER1) and Classic Endurance Racing 2 (CER2) correspond to Prototypes and GT having run in the biggest long-distance races between 1966 and 1979 (69 cars in total including legend models: Mercedes C11, Ford GT40, Ferrari 512BBLM, Porsche 935, Lola T70, etc.).
In the CER1 category, Steven Read, Sandy Watson, and Marc Hevia take advantage of an error by Carlos Monteverde and Bernard Thuner – who led until their driver change outside of the authorized time – to establish the podium. The CER2 was monopolized by the ascendancy of the Lola who were in the first 4 positions! In another register, Robert Boos at the wheel of a BMW M1 showed little fear with a spin without gravity.
The third is the legendary Group C. It was a category of Motorsport, introduced by the FIA in 1982 for sports car racing, along with Group A for touring cars and Group B for GTs. Steve Tandy and Joe Osborne won the race at the wheel of 1990 R90CK Nissan and behind came the Porsche 962C of Pierre-Alain of France. Mike Donovan closed the podium in his Spice SE88. We also witnessed historical models competing such as the Lancia LC2 or the Porsche 956.
For those not satisfied by the Ferrari category “Nineties Red”, Peter Auto gives you the Trofeo Nastro Rosso. The Italian consonance is not used by chance – this category is dedicated to beautiful Italian sportcars or GT cars built until the end of 1965.
15 cars were racing. 80% of them were Ferrari: 250 GT SWB, 250 GT Lusso, 250 LM, 275 GTB. The other Italian brands and mythical Italian models filled the rest of the category such as Maserati, Alfa Romeo, as well as Bizzarrini and ISO.
The battle was rough between the Bizzarrini 5300 GT of Michael Erlich and the Ferrari 250 LM owned by Carlos Monteverde. In Saturday’s race, the Bizzarrini outstripped the Brazilian in his Ferrari, but in Sunday’s race, Monteverde takes his revenge by taking the Bizzarini off the top of the podium.
Finally, the Sixties Endurance category gathered sports cars before 1963 and GT until 1966. We find cars that, with a little luck, we can see again in the street nowadays such as Jaguar E-Type, Porsche 356, Aston Martin DB4GT. However, most of the cars for the 10000 Tours are modified for the track and not typically street driven. After a sunny start on Saturday, in the evening the real race took place. The intense pace held by the leaders (3 AC cobras on the podium!) caused some breaks in the pack.
The biggest surprise arrived on Sunday, late in the afternoon with the announcement by Patrick Peter (CEO of Peter Auto) regarding the arrival next year of a new category celebrating the championship BPR (Barth Peter Ratel). As a reminder, this championship took place in the 90s and set mythical models as F40LM, McLaren F1 GTR, Porsche 911 Turbo S LM, and the Venturi 400 LM against each other.
It’s time to let all these cars go back up in their trucks, and all these teams to find their motorhomes. Let’s meet in 2013 to see what cars will be present. A single thing is sure: eGarage will be there to report it to you.