Ten Thousand Laps
First held in 2010, the Dix Mille Tours or Ten Thousand Laps, has become one of the Peter Auto signature events. At this year's seventh edition all of the familiar grids were represented, which included the new-for-2016 Group C Racing, which previously only made guest appearances. In addition to the on-track activities, the spectators were also treated to various vendor booths and club vehicles. The latter were also allowed to sample the high-speed Paul Ricard circuit during the lunchbreaks. As in 2015, the weather once again proved a factor with heavy rain on Saturday morning but unlike last year no sessions had to be cancelled.
We were at the instantly recognisable track from start to finish and have returned with an exclusive 240-shot gallery
packed with spray, flames and powerslides.
In 2015, the two-hour Sixties' Endurance race was red flagged after just 15 minutes due to torrential rain. Fortunately there were no such issues this year as the predicted thunderstorms stayed to the west of the circuit on Saturday afternoon. Shelby Cobras once again featured strongly at the front of the grid, making the most of the power of their thunderous V8s on the track's long straights. The pole position was for the Cobra shared by the Belgian combination of owner Christian Dumolin and the quicksilver Christophe van Riet. The latter started the race and by the time he handed the car over to Dumolin, he had built up a lead of over a minute. Slightly daunted by the task of defending the lead against a fleet of other Cobras, Dumolin made no mistake and actually managed to win the race with a similar lead as some of the rivals dropped out during the closing stages of the race. Second was for Ben Gill in the Cobra he had driven solo for two hours straight.
Trofeo Nastro Rosso
As the name suggests, the Red Ribband Trophy
is open for cars that have an association with Italy from the 1950s and early 1960s. Due to the value of these machines, this is usually the small grid of a Peter Auto weekend and this year's Dix Mille Tours was no exception with a 21-strong field. Headlining the race were a pair of Ferrari 250 LMs, the unique Ferrari 250 GT SWB Breadvan and two 300S Maseratis. In qualifying, Carlos Monteverde was fastest of all in his bright yellow 250 LM by quite a margin. During the opening lap of the first of two 35-minute races, he was, however, challenged by Lukas Halusa in the one-off Breadvan. His lead was brief as Monteverde returned to the head of the field before the end of the second lap and won the race with a comfortable margin. He managed to repeat that feat later on Sunday. Although finishing well down the order in the scratch result, the Index of Performance during both races was won by the lovely Fiat 8V Zagato shared by father and son Christian and Nicolas Traber.
Heritage Touring Cup
Open to late 1960s through to early 1980s touring cars, the Heritage Touring Cup had a particularly colourful grid. Making their first appearance in the championship were a pair of MG Metro Turbos. Powered by diminutive engines, these lightweight machines are regular winners back on the British Isles but on Paul Ricard power talks. The front row had plenty of that power with the pole position snatched by Richard Meaden in Grant Tromans' quad-cam Ford Capri RS ahead of Nigel Greensall in the Group A Ford Mustang GT he shared with owner David Huxley. In the openinge stages of the one-hour race, Meaden and Greensall were also in a league of their own with the former building up comfortable lead before handing over to Tromans. Whereas the Capri had suffered from rapidly fading brakes at previous HTC races, it continued to behave for the complete hour. Tromans even managed to extend his lead over Huxley, who piloted the Pinepac Mustang in the second half of the race. Third was for Ben Gill, who had worked his way up the field after starting 19th in his Ford Escort 1600 RS.
Classic Endurance Racing 1
One of the strongest fields both in numbers and quality of the weekend was unquestionably that for the one-hour Classic Endurance Racing 1 race. Among the cars in the entry were a plethora of Lolas and Chevrons but also more exotic machines like a Ferrari 512 M, a Porsche 908 LH and an Alfa Romeo 33/3. Shared by owner Steven Read and Italian ace Giovanni Lavaggi, the Ferrari actually managed to set the fastest time during qualifying. Unfortunately, gearbox issues prevented the glorious Ferrari from starting the race. This left Richard Meaden in Grant Tromans' Lola T70 Mk3B and Martin O'Connell in his smaller engined but more nimble Chevron B19 to dice for the lead in the opening laps of the race. The lead changed several times but neither was able to use their specific strengths to build up a lead of any significance. Despite damaging his nose, O'Connell did manage to get well and truly ahead of the ex-Ulf Norinder Lola after Tromans had taken over from Meaden. In the final laps of the race, Tromans had to surrender second to Philip Bruehwiler, who had a very strong and trouble free run in his Chevron B19. The GT class was won by Claude Nahum, who beat a modern Porsche 911 Carrera RSR and DeTomaso Pantera in his familiar Ford GT40.
Classic Endurance Racing 2
The Classic Endurance Racing 2 grid was affected most by the changeable weather conditions as their qualifying session on Saturday morning was held on a slowly drying track. Showcasing his fine wet weather skills was Stuart Hall, who managed to grab pole position in the ROFGO Collection Mirage GR7 he shared with Roald Goethe. Second was for the similarly Cosworth DFV engined TOJ prototype of Yves Scemama but really making the most of the weather were Jurgen Barth and Christian Bouriez, who were third and fourth in their Porsche 935 K3 and Ferrari 512 BB LM respectively. With the race run under dry conditions, they quickly dropped down the order but Hall and Scemama did hold on to their positions. Their biggest threat came from way down the order in the form of Martin O'Connell in the unique DFV engined Chevron B23. He had failed to set a competitive lap in qualifying due to a misfire and had to start in 29th. After a stellar opening lap, he had managed to climb up to ninth. His charge was briefly halted by a safety car but he was up to third by lap four. After an early stop and a retirement from the previously leading Mirage, O'Connell grabbed the lead on lap 16. He went on to win the race ahead of Scemama in the TOJ and Carlos Barbot in his DFV powered Lola T280. The honours in the GT class were for Erik Maris in the fire-breathing Porsche 935 JLP-2.
Group C Racing
By far the fastest cars of all out on during the weekend were found in the Group C race. These awe-inspiring machines of the 1980s and early 1990s never cease to impress. The quickest car in qualifying, by a quite margin, was the Sauber-Mercedes C11 shared by Kriton Lendoudis and Rui Aguas. In the first of the two 45-minute races, Aguas built up a comfortable lead in the thundering Sauber-Mercedes. With no need to preserve fuel like the teams had to do in period, the boost of the big twin-turbo V8 could easily be turned to 11 making it impossible to keep up with, particularly by the naturally aspirated rivals. The car was nevertheless driven beautifully to victory in the first race, spewing flames and lighting up its brake discs along the way. A distant second was for the Aston Martin AMR1 driven by Nicolas Minassian and Paul Whight while the Porsche 962C shared by Yvan Vercoutere and Ralf Kelleners finished third. A waterpump failure prevented the mighty Sauber-Mercedes from taking part in race two, which allowed Minassian and Whight to win the race, closely followed by the Kremer Porsche 962 of Tommy Dreelan and Aaron Scott. Third was for the Group C2 Argo of Mike Wrigley, who had won his class in race one.
The changeable weather conditions certainly did not dampen the spirits and with a beautiful, sunny Sunday, this year's Dix Mille Tours had a spectacular finale. Over 12,000 spectators visited the event and they were certainly not disappointed as can be seen in this action-packed 240-shot gallery