The Tour Auto Rally 2012 was held 16-21 April on the secondary roads and race circuits of France. A field of nearly 250 cars gathered at famed Le Grand Palais in Paris for the start of the 21st historical Tour de France rally, a multi-day event that combines 2,500 km of road driving with multiple circuit and hillclimb stages.
This year’s event honored the Ferrari 250 GTO as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. The 2012 Tour Auto Rally was a return to the roots for GTO, a race car that won everything during its career: the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the GT World Championship in 1962-1964 and the Tour Automobile de France. The Ferrari GTO entrants included Brandon Wang (4219GT), William ‘Chip’ Connor (4293GT) and Daniela Ellerbrock’s ex-Ecurie Francorchamps 4153GT that won the the 1964 Tour de France.
The rally is open to cars (or sister cars) that participated in the original Tour de France Automobile between 1951 and 1973. The 2012 Tour Auto Rally saw these collector cars cross France from North to South, leaving Paris on April 17th and reaching Nice on April 21st. The Tour Auto stop-over town will be successively Beaune, Aix-les-Bains, Clermont-Ferrand and Nîmes, where spectators were able to visit the Parc Fermé and discover the exceptional cars from close quarters.
Tour Auto Rally 2012 participants competed in one of two categories: Competition or Regularity. In short, the difference between the two groupings is that in competition, fastest wins, while in regularity, precision wins. In Competition, the driver is alone on the racing circuit stages, yet their co-driver is used on the road stages.
The Competition Class saw the team of Shaun Lynn and Kevin Kivlochan take overall honors in their 1963 AC Cobra, having grabbed the lead on day one and never letting go. Their victory was a combintation of excellent driving, good strategy, plus a well prepared and reliable car, the “644 CGT” AC Cobra. This is the second overall Tour Auto victory for Shaun Lynn, who won in 2009 with his pale blue Ford GT40 “Tesie”. Second place went to Damien Kohler and Sylvie Laboisne in their Lotus Elan, while the green AC Cobra of Mark and John Freeman took home third.
Photographer Julien Mahiels documented the 2012 Tour Auto Optic 2ooo Rally, offering the following picture gallery that shows the strong field of entrants, in addition to the spectacular views found on the French countryside. To see more from Julien, visit www.flickr.com/julienmahiels.
Tour Auto Rally 2012 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)