Tour Auto Optic 2000 is an adventure which began at the Grand-Palais Ephémère on the Champ-de-Mars in Paris on Tuesday when 230 cars entered leave Paris for the Château de Courances (official start of the rally).
Competitors set off for 5 days to conquer 4 circuits (Dijon-Prenois, Bresse, Lédenon and Paul-Ricard) and 10 special stages on closed roads.
A route that takes the caravan to the east of France (Beaune, Aix-les-Bains) before finishing its race in the south (Valence, Nîmes, Nice).
Leg 1: 31 st August and the sound of engines engines rocked the calm of the early hours. The 230 or so collector cars in the Tour Auto Optic 2000 cavalcade left the Grand Palais Ephémère. After a day on show they finally started this incredible historic rally eagerly-awaited by motoring enthusiasts everywhere.
Despite the passage of time, Ford and Matra are two cars that remain real racing machines. That was proved once again during the special stage on the Dijon-Prénois circuit with the Matra MS 650 of Mr. John of B-Sibel (00:12:16) clinching first place and third going to the Sirgue-Dunesme Ford GT40 (00:12:51).
Leg 2: 1st Septmber, and after a stage on the Dijon-Prenois circuit and a well-deserved night’s rest for their cars in the parc fermé in Beaune, the competitors set off on the second leg of the 2021 Tour Auto Optic 2000. Their first stop along the way was the Bresse circuit for a special stage combining speed and technique. The crews then got back on the road, crossed through magnificent mountainous landscapes and the Les Oyonnax commune, one of the most densely populated in the Ain department.
A beautiful line-up at the start of grid 3 in the competition section on the Bresse circuit with two short-chassis Ferrari 250 GTs on the first row of the grid – marvellous!
The Ford GT40, the only one entered for this year’s rally, emerged victorious in the day’s first stage. But it wasn’t a stroll in the park with the two Cobras (Caron-Lecomte in #205 and Van Riet –Werner in #210) in hot pursuit. The American cars really do hold the upper hand in the competition section.
In regularity, everybody was delighted to see the return of the Mouret-Cardon Renault Dauphine Gordini, a lovely, very popular car.
Leg 3: 2nd September
This year the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo is spending two full days in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Yesterd, the cars in the cavalcade criss-crossed the Epine pass, which overlooks the Aiguebelette lake, before reaching the small Vif commune where a picnic awaited their drivers. This third day was also saw the longest stage of the 30th edition with more than 460 km covered. An action-packed day that brought them to the last special stage of the leg and then to the finish on the Champ de Mars in Valence.
A breathtaking landscape with mountain roads, a day made for climbers, but which somewhat challenged the prototypes whose turning radius remains more limited than the other cars in the caravan.
Surprise during this stage on the competition grid. Indeed, while the battle for the title was played between the two Shelby Cobra of Van Riet / Werner and Caron / Lecomte, there is now a gap of two minutes between the Belgian driver who now leads the game. A few hours later, we’ve heard that this was due to an exit from the road of the French which forced him to abandon the rally.
On the regularity grid, at the time of writing these lines, the classification after the second special stage of the day does not give one but two cars in first place. The Brocades Zaalberg / Drapeau Ferrari 275 GTB shares the top spot with the Laurant’s MG B.