Report by Marco Zanello and photos by Giacomo Zanello
The Dix Mille Tours of Le Castellet was held 7-9 October 2011 at the 5.809 km, 14-turn Circuit Paul Ricard near Marseille, France.
After the great success of last year, the world of historic cars returned to the circuit of Paul Ricard to fight the Dix Mille Tours du Castellet event for the cars of Endurance Racing organized by Peter Auto. The event saw 10,000 spectators at the elegant circuit of Provence, demonstrating what makes classic endurance so compelling for motor racing fans that are always ready to admire the legend prototypes and GT cars fighting on the track.
The Paul Ricard circuit, recently passed under Stéphane Clair’s management, has involved six different categories among which Classic Endurance Racing, split into two grids, as earlier appeared this year at Spa: Group C Racing, Sixties Endurance, Trofeo Nastro Rosso and Challenge Asave. It hasn’t even failed the presence of the small market Automobilia and the area reserved for the Clubs, whose cars had the chance to run for over six km of track.
There were many cars that aroused the interest with spectators, like two Ferrari 512M, in front of them there was a continuous stream of spectators and engineers, one huge Ford Torino, which entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1976, as well as two Toj SC204 and 302 cars, decorated with the traditional colors Warsteiner.
As advocated, the race was run under an unusually warm autumn sun and it was rather strange that there was no wind. The first race was held on Saturday afternoon with Trofeo Nastro Rosso and ended with the win of Alberto Francioni and Fredey Barth in ISO A3C before a usual Vincent Gaye with Ferrari 275GTB; then the pair of drivers repeated themselves on Sunday morning by taking advantage of Gaye’s retirement because of engine problem.
Also on Saturday was the Challenge Asave with Franck Metzger winning in Chevrolet Corvette favored by a double pit-stop of Christophe Terriou in Porsche 911 3.0 RSR, first in the long run.
On Sunday the show continued with Groups C that showed once more their speed skills. At the end of an exhausting hour of race, the victory went to Sauber Mercedes C11 driven by Gareth Evans-Bob Berridge. On the contrary there was little luck for the Nissan R90C with Katsuaki Kubota and the Spice Pontiac driven by Stefano Rosina and Giorgio Mondini. These cars were the only cars to worry the winning crew, but they retired early.
A hard-fought race for Classic Endurance Racing Group Two, where there was multiple overtaking actions, favored by long straights. In the lead Sandy Watson and Martin O’Connell in their Chevron B36 dominated thanks to the recovery of the latter, while among the GT cars the victory went to Sean McInerney at the wheel of his BMW M1.
Also in Classic Endurance Racing Group One, the show didn’t fall with Paul Knapfield who just three laps from the end was obliged to let Bernard Thuner win in his Lola T70 MK3. The English driver preceded of few seconds the crew of Sandy-Watson-Martin O’Connell and great Bobby Rahal, while among GT cars Pascal Gaudard imposed himself with Corvette.
Final race of the event was the Sixties Endurance, a two-hour race, which has crowned winners Sean and Michael McInerney at the wheel of a TVR Griffith. Just under the checkered flag they got the better of the AC Cobra driven by Ludovic Caron. At the end the gap between the two cars was only of 151 thousands of a second!
Dix Mille Tours du Castellet 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picure)
Dix Mille Tours du Castellet 2011 – Complete Race Results
[Source: Marco Zanella; photo credit: Giacomo Zanello]