James COTTINGHAM / Andrew SMITH GBR / GBR FORD GT40 MKI 1965
James COTTINGHAM / Andrew SMITH GBR / GBR FORD GT40 MKI 1965

Tour Auto Rally 2018 – Report and Photos

The Tour Auto Rally 2018 was held April 23-28 on the secondary roads and race circuits of France. After the traditional start in the Grand Palais, in which the cars were displayed for 10,000 Parisian enthusiasts, the 27th retrospective of the Tour de France Automobile followed a unique 2,100-kilometer course that was a blend of closed country roads and racing tracks. The crews ended their journey in Nice, the historic final destination of the original Tour de France automobile.

Organized by Peter Auto, the Tour Auto Rally 2018 ended on Saturday April 28 with three special stages in the Provencal hinterland and the finish on the Place Massena in Nice. The 239 crews that took part left the Grand Palais in Paris five days earlier: they will take away unforgettable memories of the route that gave them the opportunity to discover the most beautiful roads in France.

On their journey from the French capital to Nice with stopovers in Besançon, Megève, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence they drank in the beauty and variety of the landscapes they crossed. They all shared exciting moments at the wheel of the cars they had carefully prepared for the new 2100-kilometre route. And among them were the lucky few who tasted the magic thrill of victory.

Highlighted in the 27th running were cars that have written the Tour’s legend: BMW, Ferrari, Alpine, Ford GT40, Jaguar E-Type and MK II, Lancia Stratos, Ligier JS2, Porsche, Shelby Cobra and other exceptional models produced from 1951 to 1980. Also celebrated in the 2018 Tour Auto Rally were very rare Italian makes that have now disappeared, such as Autobianchi, Cisitalia, De Tomaso, Osca, Lombardi, Moretti and Siata.

The Swiss crew of Raphael Favaro and Yves Badan in their Lotus Elan 26R emerged victorious in the Tour Auto Rally 2018. They took advantage of the late gearbox problems that hit the seemingly invincible Ford GT40 driven by the British crew of Andrew Smith and James Cottingham in the second-to-last stage of the rally. The victors of the 2017 event had to retire after scoring 10 out of the 14 wins possible.

Only their fellow-countrymen, Chris Ward and Andy Elcomb in a Jaguar E-Type were able to challenge their domination by clinching victory in two stages. Their hopes of a finish on the 2018 Tour Auto Optic 2ooo podium were dashed by a retirement on the Paul Ricard circuit. Thus, first place in the overall classification went to the Swiss duo Raphael Favaro-Yves Badan in their Lotus Elan 26R, followed by the French pair Frédéric Jousset and Paul Miliotis in a Shelby Cobra 289 and Damien Kohler and Sylvie Laboisne in another Lotus Elan 26R.

French crew Patrick Hautot-Sylvain Cantrel won Group G1 and G2 in their Ford GT40, while Americans Cooper Mac Neil-Gunnar Jeannette sealed victory in the H1/H2/I Group in their Porsche 911 RSR 3.0L and Jean-François and Chloé Pénillard in their Porsche 356 Pre-A Coupe came first in the Index of Performance.

In the Regularity category victory went to French crew Jean Rigondet-Olivier Souillard who dominated from the first to the last day of the rally in their CG 1200 S. The Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV of Nicolas Pagano-Michel Périn scraped home in second place after coming under pressure from the Argentinean pairing, Tomas Hinrichsen and Solange Mayo’s Maserati 200 SI, who won the Index of Performance.

Once again the spirit of the Tour Auto 2ooo conquered big crowds proved by the large number of spectators who thronged to the Grand Palais and the finish of the stages, as well as the Dijon-Prenois, Bresse, Lédenon and Paul Ricard circuits. It was also the case at the ten special stages run on closed roads.

The Tour Auto Rally is right near the top of our favorite events annually covered at Sports Car Digest. And simple as it sounds, it’s also an event we’d really like to participate in, which makes it much more exciting when pictures roll in from the field. This week brings our first gallery from the hyper-competitive rally staged on the back roads and race circuits of France.

Similar to 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, Sports Car Digest also documented the 2018 Tour Auto with the following stunning pictures that show the strong field of entrants and outstanding views of the French countryside.

Tour Auto Rally 2018 – Photo Gallery (photos: Peter Auto)

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Show Comments (10)

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  1. Cracking set of pictures. Having also followed Tour Auto across France and taken lots of pictures, the route and the entry really ensure no one set of pictures is the same!

  2. Sublime setting, amazing cars and drivers – a thoroughly wonderful selection of photographs. Possibly my favourite is: Patrick HAUTOT / Sylvain CANTREL FRA / FRA FORD GT40 MKII 1968 racing through the blurred back and foreground. Thank you.

  3. Very nice work, thanks for covering the event and the great images. Ignore the haters.

    Mike

  4. Great photographs and finally someone who also mentions the drivers/co-pilots names- we can all tell a 2 CV from a Cobra!

  5. Great photos. it looks like a great event, but only one picture of the Abarth and where was the OSCA mentioned in the introduction?

  6. I don’t think I am brave enough to drive a Citroen like that! Amazing! Lovely photos, thanks.