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2014 Dix Mille Tours
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Now a set fixture on the historic racing calendar, the Dix Mille Tours at Circuit Paul Ricard is the traditional season finale of the Peter Auto-organised events, which in 2014 included the Mugello Classic, Spa Classic and Grand Prix de l'Age d'Or at Dijon-Prenois. Not surprisingly, all of the familiar Peter Auto grids were represented, which included the two Classic Endurance Racing groups for 1960s and 1970s endurance racers and the Heritage Touring Cup for saloon racers from the 1970s and 1980s. Additional championships hosted by this year's Dix Mille Tours were Group C and and U2TC for saloon racers of under two litres from the 1960s. The challenging nature of the track with its legendary Mistral straight and the relatively spacious run-off areas traditionally encourages historic racers from all over the world to bring their finest machines and 2014 was certainly no exception. Many of these spectacular historic racing cars and all of the action can be found in this mouth-watering 260-shot gallery.

Touring Cars
Split over in two groups, tin-top racers were among the stars at the 2014 Dix Mille Tours. Organised by Peter Auto themselves was the Heritage Touring Cup, which had a more colourful grid than ever before. Among the most interesting cars were a very rare Volvo 240 Turbo, which placed 2nd in the European Touring Car Championship and a Spa 24 Hours winning Ford Capri. Fastest of all was the four-cam Capri of David Ferrer and Mr John of B, beating the nearest rival in qualifying by almost three seconds. Unfortunately, the hugely powerful Cosworth-tuned V6 was also fragile and within sight of the finish, the ex-works Capri withered out. This handed the victory to Jean-Claude Basso in one of the BMW 3.0 CSLs in the field.
Primarily a fight between Cortinas and Alfa Romeo GTAs, the U2TC also featured a single BMW 1800 TISA. Raced with great verve by Robert Shaw, it eventually placed second behind the beautifully prepared GTA shared by Frank Stipler and Alexander Furiani.

Trofeo Nastro Rosso
With over 30 cars in the entry, the 2014 Dix Mille Tours also boasted one of the strongest Trofeo Nastro Rosso fields in the series' history. Among the 'new' cars that lined up for the two 45-minute races were a pair of Abarth Simca 1300s. Also very well represented was the svelte Alfa Romeo TZ with no fewer than four examples entered. At the sharp end of the field, it was however once again Carlos Monteverde, who proved fastest in his Ferrari 250 LM. As always this season, it was a case of beauty versus the beast as the Brazilian's closest rival was the menacing and fire-spitting Bizzarrini 5300 GT of Michael Erlich. The big Chevrolet engine's mighty power was however more than matched by the superior stopping power and handling of the smaller-engined Ferrari in the first race. Monteverde won this handsomely, beating Erlich by 20 seconds. Unfortunately, a mechanical failure at the start of race two left the 250 LM stranded, which allowed Erlich to pilot his belching Bizzarrini to victory ahead of three similar machines.

Sixties' Endurance
Headlining the program on Saturday was the two-hour Sixties' Endurance race for sports and GT cars from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Paul Ricard's long straights particularly suited the rumbling V8-engined Shelby Cobras. Six of the first seven qualifiers were Cobras with the Richard Meaden and Grant Tromans shared Lotus Elan 26R the only interloper in fourth. Starting on pole was the ex-Le Mans AC Shelby Cobra shared by Carlos Monteverde and Gary Pearson. Monteverde had the best start but was quickly brushed aside by Yvan Mahe in a sister Cobra, which he shared with Dominique Guenat. Gearbox issues later dropped the Monteverde/Pearson Cobra further down the order, while Mahe and Guenat also had their share of problems and finished a delayed 12th. This was nevertheless sufficient for Mahe to be crowned champion. The race win eventually went to the Cobra shared by Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac, who saw a consistent run awarded just as the sun set. They beat three other Cobras, with the Tromans / Meaden Lotus eventually placing sixth.

Group C
Making the most of the track's long straights certainly were the Group C cars. In period, these very potent machines always had to worry about fuel efficiency but there are no such worries in the current Group C Championship. As a result, the turbo-dials could be turned to 11, allowing for speeds of close to 350 km/h down the Mistral straight. Topping the charts in qualifying was the Nissan R90CK shared by Katsu Kubota and Joaquin Folch-Rossinol, who lined up on the front row alongside Gareth Evans in his last ever race in his Sauber-Mercedes and the C11's new owner Kriton Lendoudis. A brief shower just before the one-hour race made for a particularly slippery track, which certainly levelled out the field. Kubota did manage to build up a small lead over the Jaguar XJR-16 of Richard Eyre, while Evans was delayed after a spin. Following the pit-stops, Eyre emerged as the leader but mechanical issues dropped him down the order. Folch-Rossinol could not benefit from his rival's misfortune as he had to make a further pit-stop due to a door that was not fully shut and he was later penalised a further 30 seconds for speeding in the pit lane. This allowed Mike Donovan to claim a well deserved victory in his Spice, which had required considerable repairs following a shunt at Zandvoort a month earlier and was only just finished for the Dix Mille Tours.

Classic Endurance Racing 1
Arguably the finest field of the weekend was that for the one-hour Classic Endurance Racing 1 race. Among the most interesting cars were several genuine Chevron B16s, including the ex-Irvine Laidlaw car restored to its Sebring livery, an Alfa Romeo 33/TT/3 and a pair of Ferrari 512s entered by brothers Peter and Steven Read. Especially for Paul Ricard's long straights, Peter Read had his 512 S fitted with an interim long tail body as used in the day at the N�rburgring and Monza. This certainly worked like a charm as his co-driver Bobby Verdon-Roe grabbed pole with a considerable margin. Verdon-Roe also took an early lead but was promoted to retire after losing the car under braking on the still slippery track. The subsequent safety car period had shuffled up the field considerably as some teams timed their mandatory pit stops better than others. Emerging in the lead were a pair of Chevron B8s, with Martin O'Connell looking to claim victory in Sandy Watson's unique long wheelbase example. Stuart Hall in the ROFGO Collection Lola T70 had other ideas and following a strong fight back managed to snatch the lead and subsequent win from O'Connell going into the penultimate lap.

Classic Endurance Racing 2
Historic sports racing cars of a slightly newer vintage were found in the Classic Endurance Racing 2 field, which was a mix of open Group 6 prototypes and late 1970s Group 5 GT cars, like Ferrari 512 BBLMs, Porsche 935s and a fire-breathing BMW M1. At the sharp end of the field, the two- and three-litre engined prototypes vied for top honours. Not surprisingly, the three-litre cars were slightly quicker in qualifying with Yves Scemama claiming pole in his DFV-engined Lola T290. Martin O'Connell was the fastest two-litre car, just over a second slower than Scemama. The best sounding three-litre car of all was Franco Meiners' Alfa Romeo 33/TT/12, which he shared with Emmanuele Pirro. Unfortunately, teething problems prevented the two Italians to start the race. Pole-man Scemama's race did not last much longer as he was forced to park his Lola after just seven laps. This promoted the T286 of Dominique Guenat, which had started second, to the lead. The Frenchman went on to score a well deserved victory ahead of Patrice Lafargue in his highly tuned two-litre Lola and the March 76S DFV shared by Paul Knapfield and Jamie Campbell Walter.

Final thoughts
The Dix Mille Tours was once again a fitting finale to a great season of historic racing with strong fields and fabulous racing. Our only qualm this year was the introduction of noise restrictions, which has resulted in the addition of ungainly silencers. While this also limits the aural delights, we have also spoken to several prominent historic racers, who are reluctant to return if these restrictions remain in place. Hopefully a better compromise can be found in 2015 as the aural and visual delights are a key ingredient of historic racing both for the competitors and the spectators.

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Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com