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French fields - Report: Circuit Historique Laon

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The bank holiday weekend saw 700 classics converge on Laon, 150 miles south of Calais, for a celebration of the British car.

For the last 20 years, the last weekend in May has seen a variety of classics assemble in the historic town of Laon, for a weekend of classic car revelry. If it wasn’t for the support of the British, the event would be a fraction of the size it is; more than half of the cars there make the pilgrimage across La Manche. So it was only fitting that this year’s bash – the 20th anniversary weekend – was a homage to the cars of Great Britain.

As long as it was made in Britain, it was welcome, which was why there were Jaguars, Triumphs and MGs galore, along with Morgans, Jensens, Rolls-Royces, TVRs and Aston Martins. There were even two Reliant Sabras and a Sabre, a Standard 10, various Turners, a smattering of Austins and a Peerless.

But entries weren’t restricted to British marques; as you’d expect there were plenty of French models on hand too, including Simcas and Panhards plus numerous more mainstream marques. While these included a gamut of Citroens, Peugeot and Renaults, there were few pre-war and 1950s models to be seen, unlike in previous years.

While there was a Bugatti Type 35B among the entries, and a pair of Voisins, the really spectacular stuff wasn’t as prominent as it has been in the past; two years ago no fewer than eight Voisins turned up. Still, if the oddball is your thing you’d still have loved the weekend, with a Renault Fuego Turbo, Plymouth Prowler, Saab Sonett, Excalibur Phaeton and a Capri Perana V8 all included in the entry list. There was even a mint Renault 14 – not especially desirable, but when was the last time you saw one?

The weekend follows a simple but effective format; on the Saturday there’s a 120-mile run around the French countryside with all participants taking in some fabulous Picardie countryside. The Sunday sees a static display in the morning then laps of the town in the afternoon, with the streets closed so entrants can open things up a bit.

The formula works brilliantly, so it’s no wonder the Brits support it so eagerly. If you failed to make it this year, keep an eye open for the Circuit Historique Laon in 2012; if you’re in one of the big owners’ clubs, the chances are it’s already got something arranged with Continental Car Tour

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