As a change from racing on two wheels, Cyril Despres accepted the generous offer of sponsors Maison France Confort to compete in the prestigious Tour Auto Optic 2000 at the wheel of a 1971 Chevrolet Corvette C3R.
“I somehow always imagined that my first ever car race would be a rally-raid in a 4×4. Instead I found myself in the hot seat of a 600 bhp Corvette in a classic car rally. Clearly a result was never on the cards! That said, show me a chequered flag and a give me a start time and I am a racer, plus I had a moral obligation to my sponsors Maison France Confort, who prepared and entered the car, to give it my all.
In the end a series of mechanical upsets, culminating in a broken clutch on the Pau-Arnos circuit, on the last stage, pushed us down well down the rankings. But despite our mechanical woes it was a truly unforgettable week. As a Frenchman, to find yourself on the start line at Le Mans is a genuinely emotional moment, while the warmth of Dakar fans encountered all along the route was extremely touching.
A big thanks to all the mechanics and assistance crew who worked so hard to keep us going and a huge thank you to Philippe and Antoine Vandromme for making it all possible.
My next competitive outing will be the Sardegna Rally Race at the end of May. One of my favourite events, with great tracks, beautiful scenery and lots of navigation, I have already started my training programme and am looking forward to putting in a good performance.”