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A great French classic - Report: Grand Prix de Tours

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Here's yet another reason to make your holiday a French one...

While French events such as Retromobile, the Le Mans Classic and Angouleme are well known to British classic car fans, there’s a raft of great fixtures that get virtually no coverage in the UK press. Such an event is the rather grandly named Grand Prix de Tours, which this year ran over the weekend of 25-27 June.

If you’ve ever done the Laon Historic, you’ll be familiar with the format; a 150-mile scenic tour on the Saturday followed by numerous laps of the town centre on the Sunday, combined with a static car show. Perhaps the similarity shouldn’t be a surprise, as it was Michel Loreille who set up both.

He comments: “Although the first Grand Prix de Tours was run in 1993, and it’s now an annual event, the 2010 weekend was only the tenth. With around 300 cars taking part we’d like to grow the weekend as much as possible, and more British support would be fantastic – most of those taking part are currently very local and they’re huge supporters of British marques”.

He’s not wrong either; whereas just about all of the cars on the event are French-registered, there are surprisingly few  Gallic marques on the roster. Everywhere you look there are Jaguars, MGs, Triumph and Austin Healeys, plus a huge gathering of Panthers.

There’s also a decent turnout of pre-war machinery too, including several Edwardians from Renault, De Dion Bouton, Flanders and Rolland-Pillain. Bugattis rub shoulders with Bentleys, but most of the cars taking part are in the eminently affordable category – models such as the Renault 4CV, Citroen 2CV and Simcas of various flavours are much in evidence.

The lack of British support compared with the Laon Historic is understandable. Whereas the latter fixture is just 120 miles from Calais, Tours is three times the distance so you end up having to add an extra day either side, for travel. However, with the Loire Valley such a beautiful area to explore, maybe it’s worth using the Grand Prix de Tours as an excuse to take your summer holidays in France next year.


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