Endurance racing is tough. Even tougher is doing it in a classic car. That’s what Ludovic Caron has been doing for several years, piloting his AC Cobra to two victories on the Tour Auto. As well as that he races at Le Mans Classic and Goodwood Revival, and runs a workshop in France specialising in 1960s and 1970s classic cars. We talked to him about what it takes to win the Tour Auto, and why the right lubricant is so important.
Ludovic, what are your plans for the Tour Auto this year?
Enzo Ferrari used to say, “to finish first, first you have to finish”. So, I'm going to try to finish [laughs]. And then we'll see where we are. It's a long-distance race, over five days, with special stages and so on. It pays to be patient. You don’t win the race on the first day. I’m lucky. I’ve won 63 special stages since my first one in 1997. But I know how difficult it is to put it all together, to be the overall winner at the end. So, I like to take it step by step and we'll see where we land.
You’ve won two Tour Autos. What’s the secret to winning it?
Yes, I’ve won it twice. And competed a lot of times and come close to winning several more times. The secret to winning, well you have to be quick, reliable and lucky. You have to avoid all the penalties (for instance, avoiding things like arriving late at the checkpoints because you had a puncture or a traffic jam or whatever). It's a combination of many, many things that you have to put together. All the stars have to be aligned. To achieve that is not easy but that is also the motivation and excitement to do it.
The Tour Auto is quite a few months away. When do you start preparing for the event?
During the winter season we rebuilt the Cobra's engine completely with new pistons and all the worn parts of the engine have been replaced. We als dyno tested it. And did the same for the gearbox, the diff and all the other mechanicals. We put everything back in the car and we tested it. Even though we have known the car for many, many years, there’s always something new to learn about it, and always something that we are not expecting. It's a never-ending story, but that's the fun of it.
What’s it like driving across France in a Cobra?
From a comfort and exhaustion point of view out of 10, I would say 0.5 [laughs]. But for fun and speed, it’s 10 out of 10. I’m lucky that my car is a piece of history. But you know, it’s a vintage race car, it’s a mission. In the evening, you are happy to sit on the chair and relax after a day’s driving.
Do you do any other racing apart from the Tour Auto?
Yes, I’ve done the Goodwood Revival about 10 times and the Le Mans Classic since it started. And then I do some master series and gentleman races. It all depends on the schedule.
As well as racing you also have your own workshop? Do you specialise in race cars?
It’s only for race cars, the classic cars from the 1960s and 1970s. Because we come from the race environment and have expertise there, that’s why we decided to focus our workshop on this. This was a great era for cars and it’s a lot of fun to work on them.
You’re also a partner with Motul. How long have you been using Motul’s products?
I’ve been helped by Motul since day one. I started the workshop in 2003 and I’m lucky that nearly 20 years later they are still by my side and we have been working very well together. Its products are really high quality, and the people have a good mentality and are very passionate about this industry. It’s always good to be able to share your passion with like-minded people. I’m really proud to be a Motul ambassador in classic car racing.