The Tour Auto Rally 2011 was held 11-16 April on the roads and circuits of France. Over 230 cars gathered in Paris for the start of the 20th historical Tour de France rally, a multi-day event that combines 2,500 km of road driving with multiple circuit and hillclimb stages.
The 2011 edition of the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo rally paid tribute to the cars of Zagato, one of the greatest Italian coachbuilders. Some fifteen crews answered the call and entered cars bodied by Zagato. Among the drivers, over twenty nationalities were represented at Tour Auto Rally 2011, with competitors from all over Europe, in addition to entrants from the United States, Canada, Japan and India.
Day one of the Tour Auto Rally 2011 took entrants from Paris to Poitiers, while day two ended in Objat, then a day three closing in Bordeaux, followed by an adventure to Pau, completed with the finish in Biarritz. The itinerary this year was close to the edition of 2005, with a finish line in the heart of Basque country. Excellent weather was a partner and contributed the success of this 20th anniversary edition, for the pleasure of the competitors, but also for the public, present along the roads of the southwest French provinces. After 13 special stages, 8 of them on closed road, Biarritz was the opportunity to enjoy some rest, and to celebrate the winners.
Tour Auto Rally 2011, Regularity – John Ruston and his co-driver Jeremy Haylock finished in first place with their beautiful green and white 1954 Porsche 356 Speedster. The speedster choice was perfect for the sunny weather. John has been in the top three for the past 5 years of Tour Auto Optic 2ooo. He placed third in 2008, 2009, second in 2007, 2010. This year’s victory tops the performance.
Second place went to the Koenigs, from Germany, who drove a 1957 AC ACE Bristol. Third place is for Jean-François Nicoules and François Peyronnet. It is worth to mention the fact, because we have seldom seen such a performance from the part of a French team; it is also worth to mention that they finish with the same time as the second car, but got a penalty for being late at the last waiting zone of the last road stage !
Tour Auto Rally 2011, Performance Index – Yves Junne and Lee Maxted-Page won all of the 13 stages, and nothing could stop them on their way to a clear victory. The team placed 12th in the final classification. Their grey 1953 Porsche 356 finished more than 6 minutes ahead of the 1959 Jaguar Mk I 3.4 of Pierre le Gloahec. In third position was another Jaguar Mk I, driven by Albtrecht Haase.
Tour Auto Rally 2011, VHC – This is the group of the official winner of Tour Auto Optic 2ooo. The result was very difficult to anticipate. In the Jardins des Tuileries, we could count an almost equal number of AC Cobras, Ford GT40, Lotus Elan or Type E Jaguars with the intrinsic capability and driver’s ability for a victory. We could see three car types with recent victory records and also the top drivers of the past years: Ludovic Caron, winner in 2008 in his AC Cobra, Shaun Lynn and his red AC Cobra , the 2009 winner (then with his GT40), and Jean-Pierre Lajournade last year’s winner (Lotus Elan)
Shaun Lynn was the leader on the first evening, but then he had to retire during the second leg. The Ford GT40s were excellent on circuit, but suffered from irregular performance on road stages and encountered mechanical problems.
Ludovic Caron, with co-driver Didier David, could resist the pressure of the first days, then capitalized on their time margin to finish the race atop the podium.
Jean-Pierre Lajournade, with the same Lotus Elan that lead him to victory in 2010 co-driven by Denis Baron, finished second, 3 minutes behind Ludovic. Third place went to another AC Cobra 1963 and an excellent pilot from the world of Classic Racing: David Ferrer, co-driver Fabrice Benazet.
Tour Auto Rally 2011, Groups G/H/I – Paul Knapfield, and his white and blue Ligier JS 2 won the groups classification, as well as the overall, although not official, scratch classification.
This victory comes after a few unsuccessful tries, including last year’s where Paul has been close to a victory for quite some time. An experienced driver with titles in Classic Endurance Racing, and a competitor in Le Mans Classic, Paul and his assistance team have improved the Ligier JS 2 reliability and now can sustain a long race such as the 2011 Tour Auto Optic 2ooo. The Ligier JS 2 was clearly superior in all circuit races. The excellent weather all along the week was also welcome for such a powerful car. A Ligier JS 2 won 1974 Tour de France rally, driven by Gérard Larrousse.
Second place goes to Jean Ragnotti, co-driven by Francis Mercier. Their Alpine Renault A110 finished 38 seconds behind the Ligier JS 2. Only 15 more seconds to find the Porsche 906 of Mr John of B, winner of the group and of the scratch classification in 2010.
For complete results, visit www.tourauto.com.
Tour Auto Rally 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Tour Auto Optic 2ooo]