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2019 Dix Mille Tours
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Season finale
Now in its tenth year, the Dix Mille Tours du Castellet is usually the season finale of the Peter Auto season. This year was no exception and a record number of entrants jumped at the opportunity to go historic racing in 2019 one last time. Spread over seven race groups a staggering 350 cars were entered this year. The biggest grid of all was that for the Sixties' Endurance race with a staggering 91 cars running in qualifying. The limit for the Circuit du Castellet is set at 83, so not all could take part in the race. This was the only capacity grid of the meeting but all others had strong numbers as well, which made for some very competitive racing. This was further enhanced by the changeable conditions. Fortunately, the weather was not quite as torrential as predicted with the exception of the final two races on Sunday.
Having missed only the inaugural edition, we were once more at the Circuit du Castellet to capture the Dix Mille Tours in its entirety. The result is this action-packed, 220-shot gallery.

Night racing
Not only was the Sixties' Endurance Racing race oversubscribed, it was also scheduled to run almost entirely under the cover of darkness. Some additional delays on Saturday meant that the race did not get under way just after sunset. This made for a particularly exciting race although it was a little difficult to follow without the luxury of a live timing monitor. Starting from pole position was the Shelby Cobra of Charles Firmenich, which he shared with the quicksilver Henri Moser. Grabbing the early lead however was the Jaguar E-Type that was started by pro-racer Rory Butcher. Following the mandatory pit-stops, the bright blue Shelby Cobra of James Cottingham and Harvey Stanley were able to claw back and grab the car's second victory in two Sixties' Endurance appearances this year. A lap down on the winners, the Jaguar E-Type of Maxime Guenat and Guillaume Mahe was the first none Cobra across the line in fourth. Quite remarkably considering the conditions 67 of the 83 starters were classified at the end of the two-hour race.
Some of the same cars were back in action the following day for the Porsche 911-only 2.0L Cup. The hotly contested race was won by Mark Sumpter, who scored his first win of the season, which helped him secure the championship.

Tin top titans
With the other six grids focused on sports cars and GTs, the Heritage Touring Cup (HTC) for 1960s through to the early 1980s certainly stands out. Thanks to the bright liveries of the cars entered, the 57-strong grid was certainly also very hard to miss. Due to the nature of touring car racing and relatively low monetary value of obsolete cars, very few original cars have survived. This means that most cars in the field have been built up more recently to original specifications. One exception was the Ford Capri entered by McLaren CEO Zak Brown for himself and Richard Dean to race. This was one of the original, quad-cam Capris that were raced by the works team in the 1974 European Touring Car Championship against the BMW 3.0 CSLs. Brown and Dean qualified fourth on the grid behind the similar Capris of Steve Dance and Maxime Guenat and the BMW of Christian Traber. The one-hour HTC race was the final one of the weekend and faced the worst of the weather. In fact, it was so slippery that some competitors opted to park their 'undriveable' cars. After a particularly strong second half of the race, it was Michael Erlich how emerged as the winner ahead of Brown and Dean, and Traber. Winner of the Group A class was Anthony Schrauwen in a BMW 635 CSi, while Baptiste Guyot-Sionnest won the TC1 trophy.

Classic Endurance Racing
Traditionally the most evocative of all grids is that of the Classic Endurance Racing 1 or CER1 race. This was definitely also the case herer with the 60+ field headlined by three Porsche 917s and a Ferrari 512 S. Among the three 917s was a Porsche sanctioned reconstruction of the example crashed fatally by John Woolfe at Le Mans in 1969. Shared by Dutchmen Nicky Pastorelli and David Hart, it was sadly forced to retire early with a broken exhaust. Regardless, it would not have been able to challenge the top two runners in the race, which were using Lola T70s. Slightly heavier and powered by a torquey V8 engine, these cars proved best suited to the wet conditions. A commendable third overall was for Claudio Roddaro in his Gulf-liveried Porsche 917 K. Sixth overall were GT winners Emmanuel Brigand and Sebastien Crubile in their Porsche 911 Carrera RSR.
Earlier in the day, the CER2 race for slightly later sports prototypes and GT cars was similarly enthralling. Starting from pole was Stuart Hall in the Mirage he shared with owner Roald Goethe. He grabbed the early lead but behind him Equipe Europe team-mates Yves Scemama and Maxime Guenat, both in TOJs, kept the young Englishman within arm's length. After the pit-stops they were able to catch and pass Goethe to score a one-two victory. Scemama not only won the race but also clinched the championship. Gilles Ceron won the GT2 class with his roaring Chevrolet DeKon Monza.

Modern historic racing
The most recent cars in action were fielded in the Group C and Endurance Racing Legends races, which covered the period of 1982 up to the early 2010s. The French Equipe Europe team operated as the de facto Peugeot works squad by entering two 905s in the Group C races and a diesel V8-engined 908 in the invitation class of the Endurance Racing Legends races. It was great to see these cars in action as not long ago these were considered too difficult to run. In Group C, only one 905 was eventually raced and it faced a rival of old driven by a friend of old; the Jaguar XJR-14 in the hands of former Le Mans winner with a 905 Eric Helary. The still very quick Frenchman grabbed pole position in the XJR-14, he shared with Gerard Lopez. Sadly, reliability issues saw the car drop out of both races. The first of the two races was won by Ralf Kelleners and Ivan Vercoutere and the second by Raymond Narac and Michel Lecourt, both in Porsche 962s.
Like the 905, the Peugeot 908 was driven by Erik Maris with great verve. He was fastest of all of the Endurance Racing Legends field but as the car was a year too young for the 2010 cut-off date, he was not classified in the results. Instead the victory in the first race went to Florent Moulin in his Saleen S7-R and the second to Narac and Lecourt in the latter's glorious Ferrari 333 SP.

Final thoughts
With over 350 race cars out on track, the tenth annual Dix Mille Tours turned out to be a record breaking edition. The competitors were not thwarted by the changeable conditions, which included torrential rain and a thick layer of fog that delayed the proceedings on Saturday morning. We do not have to wait long for next year's edition as a re-shuffle of the Peter Auto calendar means that the Dix Mille Tours will actually kick off the 2020 season during the first weekend of April. In the mean time, we would like to refer to our 220-shot gallery to keep you warm during the winter months.

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