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2023 Dix Mille Tours
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The 2023 historic racing season resumed during the first weekend of September with the annual Dix Mille Tours du Castellet. After a brief summer break, the drivers were clearly keen to get back to racing as most of the nine Peter Auto championships had strong grids. Although it was the fourth of five rounds this year, the fields featured several cars not seen before. These included a Maserati MC12, Lotus Elise GT1 and the unique Lamborghini Diablo Jota GT1. Also part of the program were demonstration runs featuring iconic Formula 1 cars and 1990s and 2000s GT and Prototype racers. These included the Le Mans class winning Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE and Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello.
Our photographers ventured to the unique Paul Ricard circuit on the French Riviera to capture the event from start to finish. The result is an action-packed, class-by-class 200-shot gallery.

Sixties' Endurance
Due to the packed schedule, the two-hour Sixties' Endurance race did not start until sunset on Saturday evening. This made for very challenging conditions for the 60-strong grid. Qualifying was also at dusk, and it was Olivier Galant, who was fastest of all with his Cobra Daytona. Interestingly, he was followed by two Jaguars and a Bizzarrini, with the next best Cobra only starting from fifth on the grid. Galant immediately grabbed the lead in the race but was challenged during the second half by a fast approaching Olivier Hart in the Bizzarrini that had been started by his father David. Sadly, a minor mechanical failure with less than 20 minutes to go saw the Dutch challenge falter. Instead, Galant was followed across the line by Maxime Guenat and Guillaume Mahe, and Leon Ebeling and Andrew Newell in Cobras.
The 80-minute Fifties Legends race the following morning also saw a late challenge. Having started fourth on the grid, Guillaume and Guy Peeters had emerged as the leaders after the mandatory pit stops with their Lotus Eleven. Fellow Belgian Christophe van Riet, came achingly close with the Cobra 260 that had been started by compatriot Eric Everard. Eventually, the winning margin of the diminutive Lotus was less than two tenths of a second.

Classic Endurance Racing
One of the traditional highlights during the Peter Auto weekend is the one-hour Classic Endurance Racing 1 (CER1) race. This time round the field was headed by a trio of Lola T70 Mk3bs, followed by a Martini liveried Porsche 908/03. Having started from pole position, Armand Mille dominated the race in his Lola T70. Sadly a snapped throttle cable late in the race meant he had to yield his commanding lead. Instead, it was the Cosworth DFV engined Ligier JS3 of 'Mr. John of B.' and Soheil Ayari that claimed a surprise win. The day did end on a high for Mille as he did pilot his Ford Capri RS 3100 to a hard fought victory in the Heritage Touring Cup race.
The action on Sunday had kicked off with the CER2 race that saw the Equipe Europe TOJ and Lola of Yves Scemama and Maxime Guenat fill the front row. Their only real challenger was Kyle Tilley in a Chevron that was also powered by Cosworth DFV engine. Sadly his challenge ended at the halfway mark. Scemama was still leading the race at that point but he started to suffer from front tyre degradation to the point that he had to let Guenat go by. The two drivers were joined on the podium by fellow Swiss racer Beat Eggimann, who had finished third in his two-litre Cheetah.

Group C
Group C is considered by many as the golden era of sports car racing. The relatively lenient regulations were in effect between 1982 and 1993 and resulted in some truly spectacular racing cars. Ground effect aerodynamics were allowed throughout and the final generation of cars were so sophisticated that they matched Grand Prix cars for pace over a single lap. Sadly, these are also hugely complicated and expensive to run, resulting in the smallest grid of the weekend. This nevertheless included some truly fascinating cars like the Lola T92/10, which boasted a Judd V10 and exhaust-blown diffuser and also several distinct versions of the Porsche 962C. These included the German company's final iteration with a massive double-decker rear wing but also Kremer and Schuppan cars built around bespoke carbon-fibre composite monocoque chassis. The two races were, however, dominated by Alex Müller, who was out in the unique Brun C91, which was powered by a Judd V8 Formula 1 engine. Raced only three times in period, it had never managed to actually reach the finish before this weekend. Setting the fastest lap of the meeting, Müller scored victories in both 45-minute Group C races.

Endurance Racing Legends
Among the most popular grids is the Endurance Racing Legends and this weekend, the entry list actually featured half a dozen reserves. The field of 1990s and 2000s prototype and GT racers featured an eclectic mix. Among the most interesting cars in the field was the Lamborghini Diablo Jota GT1 that had never been raced before. At the sharp end of the field, a Courage and Riley & Scott Le Mans Prototype topped the charts. They were followed by the striking Lotus Elise GT1, which was raced once again by Mike Hezemans, joined by his brother Loris this time round. The first of the two 40-minute races saw the Courage of David and Olivier Hart convert pole position into a victory, ahead of Xavier Micheron in the Riley & Scott. Father and son Hart did not start the second race, which saw Mike Hezemans get ahead at the first corner with his Lotus. Sadly, the fuel tank fitted in the Elise GT1 was not quite large enough, so he had to slow down dramatically in the final laps. This elevated the Maserati MC12 of Evgeny Kireev to first. He crossed the line ahead of Olivier Galant, who had started from dead last in his Panoz Esperante GTR1.

Final thoughts
First held in 2010, the Dix Mille Tours du Castellet has become a set fixture on the historic racing calendar. This year's edition saw 348 competition cars take to the track in nine different grids, while there were also 460 club cars on display. Helped by the lovely late summer weather, the event also attracted a record breaking crowd of 25,000 enthusiasts over the three days. Serving as a souvenir of the 13th edition of the Dix Mille Tours, we have created this 200-shot gallery. Up next is the Estoril Classics early in October, which will include the Historic Racing by Peter Auto season.

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