Tour Auto Optic 2000: 10 000 visitors at the Grand Palais

What more beautiful setting than the Grand Palais in Paris, this unique, majestic monument on the banks of the Seine not far from other great historic buildings in the capital, to welcome the automotive marvels taking part in the 27th staging of the Tour Optic 2ooo! Scrutineering and administrative checks took place on Monday 23rd April to give each crew the precious authorisation to line up at the start of the oldest motor race still being held. Today, the Grand Palais was open to the public who could come and feast their eyes on the 239 cars on display, their perfectly polished bodywork hiding finely-tuned engines specially prepared to tackle the 2100 kilometres of a route constantly renewed every year since 1992.

The 2018 route will bring the entrants to Burgundy with a stopover in Besançon on Tuesday evening. Wednesday, they will travel to the Haute Savoie on a leg ending in Megève. Then they will head south with a leg finishing in Avignon on Thursday followed by another in Aix-en-Provence on Friday. On Saturday, the crews will end their journey in Nice, the historic final destination of the original Tour de France automobile.

Highlighted in the 27th event are cars that have written the Tour’s legend: BMW, Ferrari, Alpine, Ford GT40, Jaguar Type E and MKII, Lancia Stratos, Ligier JS2, Porsche, Shelby Cobra and other exceptional models produced by the car industry from 1951 to 1980. Also celebrated this year are very rare Italian makes that have now disappeared like Autobianchi, Cisitalia, De Tomaso, Osca, Lombardi, Moretti and Siata.

Almost 10 000 historic vehicle lovers flocked to the Grand Palais to see the cars in this temporary museum. They were able to rub shoulders with famous drivers like Ari Vatanen and François Chatriot, world rally and French rally champions respectively, who will drive the road-closing cars in the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo. Well-known co-driver, Michel Périn, winner of the 1986 Tour de France automobile with François Chatriot as well as two French rally titles and six off-road world championship titles, was also present as were several TV hosts who are all taking part in the Tour: Margot Laffite (Canal +) teamed up with Olivier Pernaut in a 1966 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, Dominique Chapatte (M6 Turbo) in a BMW 2002 Turbo, Grégory Galiffi (C8 Direct Auto) in a Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0L and François Allain (RMC Découverte) in a Citroën 2CV Type A. And as a one-off, Maëva Coucke, Miss France 2018, will take part in the first leg, Paris-Besançon! But she won’t be alone as runner-up in the pageant, Eva Colas – Miss Corsica – is entered for the whole event in a Fiat 600D from 1967. Other faithful regulars in the Tour Auto, starred chefs Michel Chabran (BMW 1602), Jean-Paul Lacombe (BMW 2002 TI) and Michel Rostang (Lancia Fulvia 1.6 L HF) will again be at the start.

Today, the entrants, the public, the media and the event’s partners shared many special moments. At 12:00 in the Espace BMW (official motor car partner) the new BMW M5 saloon, and the BMW 2002 turbo entered by the make for the Tour Auto were presented by Vincent Salimon (Chairman of the BMW Group France Board). After this, Patrick Peter the organiser of the event, sketched its main outlines and spoke about its on-going success every year. Didier Papaz (CEO Optic 2ooo) and Yves Guénin (general secretary of Optic 2ooo) reminded those present of the partnership between the leading optical network in France and the Tour Auto since 2009. Then, Pierre-Louis Le Faou (Président of Vicomte A.), the official clothing supplier to the Tour, unveiled the Trophy jacket given to each category winner in the 2017 event. Finally, Dunlop celebrated the 130th anniversary of the company in its boutique and presented its range of Sport Classic tyres.

A soirée during which entrants, partners and well-known figures like Laurent Delahousse, Thiago Motta, Anthony Delon, François Fillon, Luc Chatel and Eric Woerth met up in the Grand Palais to talk about their common passion – the motor car – brought down the curtain on the first day of the event.

On Tuesday 24th April at 06:00 in the morning the crews will leave the Grand Palais for the Château de Courances where the official start of the rally will be given at 07:00 followed by the first timed special stage. Then comes lunch at the Dijon-Prenois circuit after which the crews will do battle on the track. After that they will head for Besançon, the first stopover of the 2018 event.