Tour to take in Montlhéry

One of the most famous venues in French racing heritage, the banked circuit at Montlhéry, will be back in competitive use for the first time in five years when the 2009 Tour Auto takes in a four-mile special stage on the opening day of the race and rally tour.

“Montlhéry is a very important circuit in France, but it is not so easy to use. We are happy to go back there for the first time in a decade,” said Marine Allainguillaume of event organiser Peter Auto.

The Montlhéry track was opened in 1925 for the French Grand Prix and remained in use through to 2004, although with fewer and fewer major events. The 1.6-mile banked oval is at the heart of the venue, which originally included an eight-mile road course.

Tour Auto will visit Montlhéry on April 21 as the first special stage of the 2009 event, following the start in Paris. The opening day will also take in races at Dijon. “Peter Auto tries to keep French racing history alive with retrospective events at original venues,” said Allainguillaume.

Racing at the track was halted in 2004 when the state of the banking and the safety facilities were deemed unsuitable. In ’08, the owners spent over £1 million on the venue as work to preserve it continues.

On September 19 a special heritage festival will be held at Montlhéry, with demonstrations and parades by up to 800 pre-78 cars and motorbikes.