The last two stages of the 26th Tour Auto Optic 2ooo took place during overnight Saturday/Sunday in the Basque region and the event finished in the seaside resort of Biarritz. The 242-crews had left the Grand Palais in Paris five days earlier and never-to-be-forgotten memories of their participation will remain etched in their mind as they followed a route that enabled them to competitively discover Brittany for the first time.
From Paris to Biarritz taking in the stopover towns of Saint-Malo, Haute-Goulaine, Limoges and Toulouse they took in the beauty of the landscapes and absorbed the history of the famous monuments they visited. They shared exciting moments at the wheel of their cars that they had lovingly prepared with special care to cover the 2500 km of a journey that was one of the longest of the recent stagings of the event. And a few of them were able to taste the joys of victory!
British crew Andrew Smith and James Cottingham in their Ford GT40 emerged victorious at the end of this human and sporting adventure. As the stages unfolded this duo who had honed their skills constructed their success by winning eleven out of 15-possible victories - four on the circuits and seven in the special stages.
Scottish driver Smith who is a regular in modern endurance racing, has racked up an impressive set of results in historic races which he has now enriched with a glorious victory in the Tour Auto that he led from the first to the last timed stage. Only Ludovic Caron-Denis Giraudet in their Shelby Cobra 289 managed to break his domination briefly by winning three special stages. The French duo were in second place in the overall classification for most of the race, but had to retire after an off in the second-last special. Swiss pair Raphael Favaro-Lucien Charles Nicolet in their 3.8-litre E-Type Jaguar won the stage in question and finished on the second step of the podium in VHC in front of Germans Olivier Ellerbrock-Olivier Louisoder in another Ford GT40.
Another winner of the 2017 event was the French crew Mr. John of B-Sibel in their Ligier JS2 DFV in the H1, H2 & I category. Daniel Viard-Didier Haquette won the Group 1 and G2 class in a Ford Escort MK1 RS 2000. Jean-François Penillard-Carole Verlaine in a Porsche Pré A came first in the Index of Performance. The battle for victory in the Regularity section went down to the wire and finally Argentinean crew Tomas Hinrichsen-Solange Mayo came out on top in their Maserati 200 SI.
Once again the spirit of the Tour Auto conquered a large section of the public as proved by the huge crowd that flocked to the Grand Palais and the end of the legs, as well as the Le Mans, Val de Vienne, Albi and Pau Arnos circuits. And spectators also turned up in large numbers on the 11-special stages run on closed roads.