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2022 Dix Mille Tours
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Ten thousand turns
A set fixture on the Peter Racing, the annual Dix Mille Tours unfortunately fell off the calendar due to a late start of the season in 2021. Fortunately, things have somewhat returned to normal and the 'Ten Thousand Laps' was back this year, during the final weekend of August. The host for the 330 historic racing cars was as always the very distinct Circuit Paul Ricard. Perched at the top of a hill near the French Riviera, it features the ever striking blue and red lines that make the track unmistakable. The vast run-off areas do not give it the classic racing track feel but it does add a considerable margin for error, making it particularly popular with drivers risking often very precious machinery. This, and the location, ensured that there were strong fields throughout despite it being the last weekend of the summer holiday for many and with a big event going on at Silverstone at the same time.
Working through the scorching conditions, we were at the Paul Ricard circuit throughout the weekend, capturing all the highlights in this class-by-class, 200-shot gallery.

Racing into the sunset
Thanks to a late change to the schedule, the two-hour Sixties' Endurance race was timed perfectly and finished right after sunset. As a result, the traditional finale of Saturday's running was a beautiful and colourful celebration of 1960s endurance racing. Very often, the sharp end of the field is dominated by Cobras and this year was no exception. David and Olivier Hart could have provided a change of decor with their fast but often unreliable Bizzarrini. Sadly, the Chevrolet V8 engine lost oil pressure already during the free practices. That left the Cobras and particular the Daytona bodied cars to lead the way in qualifying. An accident on the opening lap did take two examples out but pole man Olivier Galant managed to stay out of trouble. He had a relatively trouble free race and under complete darkness, he crossed the line first, over 100 seconds ahead of the nearest rival; Urs Beck and Patrick Simon in a 'regular' Cobra. The coveted GT2 category was won after a race-long battle by Eugène Delaplanque in his Lotus Elan.

Two-litre Porsches
The long and very fast Paul Ricard circuit is perhaps not best suited to early, short-wheelbase Porsche 911s but the 2.0L Cup race was nevertheless one of the most exciting of the weekend. Quite a few of the two-dozen, virtually identical 911s were driven by very experienced, often ex-professional racing drivers, who put up a great show. To ensure there is a level playing field for the gentlemen drivers, there is a time-penalty for pairings that consist of professional, which is added on during the mandatory pit-stop. From the start, it looked like a three-way fight between the 911s shared by Andrew Smith and Oliver Bryant, Seb Perez and Nigel Greensall, and Mark Sumpter and Andrew Jordan. Smith started from pole position but was passed by Perez. Sadly, the latter's 911 expired after just a few laps. Following the pit-stops, it was gentlemen driver Christian Coll, who emerged in the lead, leaving Bryant and Jordan to not only fight for position but also chase down Coll. On the 27th of 32 laps, Jordan managed to get by both Bryant and Coll on his way to victory in the 911 that had been started by Sumpter. It was the first win of the season for the former champions.

Endurance Racing Legends
One of the strongest fields of the weekend was for the Endurance Racing Legends, underlining the momentum modern historic racing has right now. There were Porsche 911s in abundance, of course, but the 37-strong starting grid also included an Audi R8, two Aston Martin DBR9s and two Courage C60s that were new to the series. Another entry of note was a Venturi 400 Trophy shared by two French racing legends; Stéphane Ortelli and Jean-Pierre Jarier. Starting on pole position for the first race was the Ferrari 333 SP shared by two other Frenchmen Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac. After the first lap, however, it was Xavier Micheron who emerged in the lead with his Riley & Scott. Sadly, a reluctant clutch cost him time during the mandatory pit-stop. After a valiant fight back up the order, it was David Hart in one of the Courage C60s that would go on to win the race despite completing the first lap all the way down in eighth. The second race saw Erik Maris demonstrate the capabilities of his Audi R8 to the fullest by winning from pole position.

Classic Endurance Racing
For enthusiasts of a sports car racing of a slightly earlier period, the two Classic Endurance Racing (CER) races provided all they needed. The later CER2 grid kicked off the action early on Sunday morning. It was all-TOJ top-three in qualifying with the three-litre cars of Dominique Guenat and Yves Scemama outgunning the two-litre engined example of Frank Morel. We were set for a great race between Guenat and Scemema but sadly, a snapped throttle cable for the latter ended that battle early and allowed Guenat to grab a convincing win in his Equipe Europe prepared TOJ.
Later in the day, the CER1 cars lined with a healthy mix of Lolas and Chevrons, and a Martini liveried Porsche 908/03 that had proven very fast in practice and qualifying. Starting fourth, it was Armand Mille in his Lola T70 that grabbed the lead early in the race. He was never really challenged and finished over 50 seconds ahead of the second placed Lola T210.
Mille had no time to celebrate as he had to go right back out in his Ford Capri for the HTC race. It was Yves Scemama who snatched the early lead but again luck was not on his side. Mille picked up the pieces and scored back-to-back wins; the fourth for Equipe Europe prepared machines on Sunday.

Final thoughts
Not only was it great to see the cars back out Paul Ricard this year for the Dix Mille Tours but it was perhaps even better to also see the crowd enjoy the racing. They had not been allowed in back in 2020, so it was no surprise over 15,000 enthusiasts flocked to the track on Saturday and Sunday. They will certainly not have been disappointed with the show on offer. A great impression of what they were treated to can be found in our 200-shot gallery.

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