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'Y.CO 12: A year in yachts'

Y.CO custom publication

In 1930 the motor race to the Riviera started in style. To call the sport elitist would be a gross understatement. Indeed, only a handful of young men like Kimberly diamond heir Woolf "Babe" Barnato and pearl magnate Bernard Rubin could afford cars like the supercharged 120mph Bentley Blower needed to take part.


There’s a good reason why ‘Bentley Boys’ Barnato and Rubin needed so much muscle. Their racing adversary of was none other than Le Train Bleu, the world’s most luxurious express train, which speeded the likes of Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel and the Prince of Wales down to Monte Carlo.


Fast forward nine decades and the race to Monaco is being run again with similar panache.


To keep numbers tight, invitations are only open to those with their own supercar and the wish to be welcomed at the Red Bull paddock during the Grand Prix’s Friday practise session. But each Aventador or Veyron Super Sport who lines up at Hampton Court Palace outside London on the preceding Wednesday is in for a treat.


After starters orders from former F1 champion Damon Hill, a three-day feast of fast cars, open roads and gourmet cuisine begins.


In a mirror of the 1930 course, ‘The Run To’ tour proper begins at Calais. The first leg is a cruise down to Versailles in time for afternoon tea and a round of pétanque. A fleet of Citroën 2CVs are on hand to shuttle any revellers into Paris. Handling 18 horsepower after been in control of up to a thousand will certainly be a novelty for some.


After a hot lap session at F1 circuit Magny-Cours the run bowls though Burgundy countryside to the historic Chateau Pizay. Despite the clay pigeon shoot and the alfresco dinner it’s best to get an early night.


Friday’s drive is an alpine descent to the Cote d’Azur, followed by a speedboat shuttle to dinner at the Hotel de Paris. The race weekend carries on with abandon: lunch with the Red Bull crew, VIP race access and accommodation on Cap Ferrat.


"Babe" Barnato would have been proud.

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