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2018 Dix Mille Tours
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10,000 laps
The Dix Mille Tours or 10,000 laps is a set fixture on the Peter Auto calendar. This year's edition was, however, staged somewhat earlier in the year to coincide with the final weekend of summer. Another change concerned the Circuit du Castellet, which has seen subtle changes to the track layout and more obvious alterations to the backdrop like new grandstands and a massive scoreboard over the previous twelve months. All this to make the track ready for the first French Grand Prix staged at Paul Ricard in nearly three decades. Unfortunately, all the new grandstands were closed to the public this weekend and made a rather desolate impression. There was little reason to look at the surroundings as there was near constant track action with all of the French organisation's familiar grids. In addition to the racing, there were also high speed demonstrations of 1990s through to early 2010s GT cars and sports prototypes of the Global Endurance Legends.
Along with a record breaking 15,000 spectators, we enjoyed the lovely weather conditions and have captured all the action in this colourful 280-shot gallery.

Racing into the night
As always, the on-track action on Saturday ended with the Sixties' Endurance grid. The two-hour, pit stop race started close to sunset and finished when it was completely dark. Thanks to the lovely weather, the first hour was run under beautiful skies. This proved no distraction for Christophe van Riet in his Belgian liveried Shelby Cobra. He qualified the V8-engined machine on pole ahead of several other Cobras and led the race effectively from start to finish. After two hours, he had built up an advantage of one lap over the nearest rivals, which were a pair of Cobras and a very well driven TVR Griffith of Paul Knapton.
Sunday's sunset race was the third and final round of the new-for-2018 2.0L Cup. Run exclusively for early, short-wheelbase Porsche 911s the series was intended to celebrate Porsche's 70th Anniversary but is set to make a return at all Peter Auto rounds next year. The first two races were won by the well-honed 911 entered for Olly Bryant and Andrew Smith by Historika Porsche, which also started the race on pole. Richard Meaden tried to spoil the perfect run with a brave challenge early in the 90-minute race with the 911 he shared with James Turner. After the pit-stops, Smith emerged in the lead and claimed the championship with a perfect 100% score.

Touring cars
Quite possibly the most colourful grid is the Heritage Touring Cup. The one-hour race with a mandatory pit-stop is run for touring cars from the 1970s and early 1980s. The packed field included familiar machines like fleets of Ford Escorts and Capris, and BMW 3.0 CSLs and 635 CSIs. Among the more unusual cars that lined up like an Alfa Romeo Alfasud and an Opel Commodore GS/E that not only competed in period touring car races but also in endurance events.
During qualifying, there were few surprises with Christian Traber clocking the fastest time with his 24-valve BMW 3.0 CSL. In the race he could pace himself as the only real car capable of catching up was the 24-valve Capri of Maxime Guenat but that had to start at the back. Guenet did eventually manage to claw all the way back through the field up to second. There was more BMW success as the 'Original Teile' 635 CSI of Alexander Rittweger and Sam Hancock grabbed victory in the Group A class.

Endurance legends
For many, the Group C era is regarded as the ultimate era for sport prototype racers and there has been a series to race these blisteringly fast and complicated cars for some years. A relatively new addition to the roster is the Global Endurance Legends, which is a club for owners of the endurance racers that came after Group C. Some of these are even more complicated and instead of racing they are demonstrated at high speed. Among the wide mix of cars on track for the three sessions at the Dix Mille Tours were cars ranging from the relatively recent Peugeot 908 to the rather wild and unusual but aptly named Cannibal special. This car was reunited with one of its original racers, Grahame Bryant, who drove it in the final session.
Group C cars are raced at full pelt and with some of the fuel restrictions of the period removed provide quite a sight. It was particularly fantastic to see not one but two Peugeot 905s on track. Always quick but dogged by engine issues this time was the Sauber Mercedes C11 that only ran in qualifying. This opened the door for the very well driven Porsche 962C of Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac to win both 45-minute races.

Classic Endurance Racing
The most evocative races of the weekend are usually those for Classic Endurance Racing 1 (CER1) and to a slightly lesser extent CER2. The former featured startling machinery like a pair of Porsche 917s, a Ferrari 512 M and a brace of Lolas.
In qualifying for CER1, the fastest of all was the T70 Mk3B Lola of Roald Goethe and Stuart Hall. Starting third, it was Philippe Giauque in his newly acquired T70 Mk3 that grabbed the early lead in the race. Unfortunately, his charge came to an early end due to an engine failure. A pair of Chevron B19s then took over but due to pit-stop infraction were both handed a one-minute penalty. This promoted the pole-sitters back into the lead after a spirited drive to the finish.
Goethe and Hall also started the CER2 race from pole, this time in the former's Gulf liveried Mirage GR7. A good result for the car in the race was thwarted by a bearing failure with less than three minutes to go. Regardless, there was nothing the German/English pairing could do about Yves Scemama in his lightning quick TOJ SC302. The Warsteiner liveried machine took a well deserved victory. The fire belching Porsche 935s had their work cut out in the GT2 class and the best eventually had to settle for third behind a DeKon Monza and the Warsteiner liveried BMW M1 Procar.

Final thoughts
The Peter Auto organisation is a well oiled machine and they present their events accordingly. The 2018 Dix Mille Tours was certainly no exception and featured strong grids throughout. The only let down was the Formula 2 group, which sadly looks like a failed experiment. There is one more race on the Peter Auto calendar, at Imola at the end of October. To keep you occupied in the mean time we would like to refer to this action-packed 280-shot gallery.

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