The 25th edition of the Tour Auto took place 18th-24th April, this epic event started from the Grande Palais in Paris and finished on the Cote D'Azure five gruelling days later, the route incorporated races on some of France's most famous circuits and special stage timed rally stages on closed roads.
Overall the event was won by Jean Pierre Lajournade and co-driver Christophe Bouchet in a Semi-Lightweight Jaguar E-Type. Lajournade a self-professed Special Stage Expert has now won his second consecutive Tour Auto in the Jaguar, and builds on his success of 1st in 2015 and 2nd in 2014. Ludovic Caron finished 3 minutes behind in second place in his 289 Cobra, whilst Shaun Lynn also in a Cobra had been challenging for the lead until a reliability problem on the last day. DK Engineering's James Cottingham had been driving the ex Scuderia Bear GT40 (Chassis GT40P1029) with Andrew Smith. The GT40 had suffered from carburettor trouble early on in the event and this had effectively ruled them out of the overall running. Battling with issues throughout the 5 days the pair certainly showed their potential when the car was on song.
With Day 1 "written off", the 257 crews heased to the Bresse Circuit race on Day 2. Andrew Smith was forced to start the race from last position (due to penalties incurred from day 1) but remarkably managed to battle through to 2nd place at the finish, splitting the Cobras of Shaun Lynn and Ludovic Caron on the Podium. Further successes followed on Day 3 with a 2nd place in the "Saint Bonnet Le Froid" special stage and later outright victory in the challenging "Bouvant en Royan" stage. On Day 4 further issues caused the car to miss the race at the Lédenon circuit however the team secured two further 2nd place stage finishes at "Saint-Victor-La Coste" and at "Le Moulinon" which at 16.3kms is the longest stage of the Tour.
It all came together for the GT40 on the last day with Victory in the morning on the winding "La Coutronne" stage, after which the cars headed to Paul Ricard for the final race, again sadly the GT40 would start last, however a stunning drive from James Cottingham secured outright victory before the afternoon break. The last event of the Tour was the night stage at "Les Ferres-Roquestron" (a notorious section of the Monte Carlo Rally), the GT40 driven by James Cottingham with Andrew Smith navigating made it a clean sweep with victory by 15 seconds over the other cars. It looks as if the E-Type of Jean Pierre Lajournade may have to work harder to make it three Tour Auto Victories in a row for 2017!