On the road... from the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the Tour Auto rally

On the road... from the 24 Hours of Le Mans to the Tour Auto rally

This year's Tour Auto classic car rally set off from Paris on 19 April, headed for Cannes, via Beaune, Lyon, Valence and Marseille. Participants include Jochen Mass, the 1989 Le Mans 24 Hours winner. In fact, there are plenty of other links between the Tour Auto event and the world's greatest endurance race.

If there is one car that embodies the history of both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Tour Auto, it has to be the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO, now one of the most expensive and most desirable classic cars in the world, naturally benefiting from the place of honour on this year's Tour. The car made its debut in 1962, finishing second at Le Mans that year. It repeated the feat in 1963, and came fifth and sixth in 1964. It also enjoyed two consecutive wins on the Tour Auto in 1963 and 1964, driven by Jean Guichet and Lucien Bianchi respectively. Those two drivers also claimed Le Mans 24-Hour victories, Guichet for Ferrari in 1964 and Bianchi for Ford in 1968. A number of other prestigious names can also boast victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and on the Tour Auto, including Olivier Gendebien and Gérard Larrousse.

This year’s Tour Auto will feature German driver Jochen Mass at the wheel of a 1971 De Tomasa Pantera. Mass was a regular competitor at Le Mans from the early 1970s until the mid-1990s. He first raced in the French twice-round-the-clock marathon in 1972 in a Ford Capri, and was a Porsche factory driver at Le Mans from 1978 to 1987. However, he never actually won the race at the wheel of a Porsche, instead taking top spot on the podium in a Sauber-Mercedes in 1989, with fellow countryman Manuel Reuter and Swede Stanley Dickens.

Other participants on the 2016 Tour Auto include recent 6 Hours of Silverstone winner, Rui Aguas. He was victorious in the LM GTE Am class in a Ferrari 458 Italia alongside Frenchmen Emmanuel Collard and François Perrodo at this year’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) season-opener. Right now, however, the Portuguese driver is travelling along the roads of France at the wheel of a French icon, the 1972 Alpine A110 (known as the "Berlinette").

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO | Translated from French by Clair Pickworth

LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SUNDAY 11 JUNE 1989, PODIUM. Jochen Mass (second left) pops the champagne cork after his only victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now almost 70 years old, he makes regular appearances at classic car events such as the Tour Auto rally, where he is driving again this year, or Le Mans Classic.