We are at heart of the Vercors, for the 4th edition of the Coupe 602 on ice. A new place and a new format for this 2022 edition, the first three of which were organized in Serre-Chevalier as part of the historic Ronde Hivernale, a regularity race dedicated to cars over 25 years old. This year, the 2CV Méhari Club Cassis, organizer of the race, has decided to take its independence and the 2CVs of the Coupe 602 will have the Lans-en-Vercors ice circuit to themselves and give it their all. joy. Thirty-two crews are registered, ready to do battle in the deuchist fashion. And as we say here, “the 2CV on ice is great.”
32 seconds on the starting line
The atmosphere is festive at the start of the chairlift in the ski area of the small Isère resort, this Friday evening in January. A few skiers wander around, curious, between motorhomes from Belgium or Italy, where people bustle around the cars for the start of the “qualifiers” which precede the day of competition. It must be said that the show is not trivial: refurbished, modified for the race, in original condition or even “retrofitted”, the small forty 2CVs lined up for the start offer an unexpected picture. Unique in its kind, the Coupe 602 takes its name from the engine displacement of the latest generation of 2CV produced, 602 cm3.
The picture is colorful, and for good reason: the career of this popular little car has been long. Produced between 1948 and 1990, it marked generations. Everyone can go there with their anecdote. If you are over twenty years old, you have let yourself be lulled one day or another by the casual rhythm of the progression of a 2CV. And if one is too young to have known it, one dreams of it.
Both vintage and popular, accessible and centered on the essentials – 4 wheels, a roof, enough to sit on and just enough motor to go to the end of the world – the septuagenarian is modern and appeals to young people, from 7 to 77 years old. This is demonstrated by the organizing team which manages and leads the 602 Cup, from the planning to the timing of the events. In their early thirties, they are all in love with the “Deux Pattes”, which is what attracted them to this family business, a former Citroën dealership which specialized in restoration, the manufacture of new parts and now in the electrification of 2CV and Méhari.
And it is clear that the Deuche is popular among enthusiasts, as confirmed by the journalist Francois Allain, presenter of the show Vintage Mecanic, who would not miss this appointment for anything in the world. “Of the 5 million 2CVs that have been made, I think there are still several hundred thousand left, knowing that there are many lying around in the back of barns.”
Specimens from the barns, there are some on the Lans-en-Vercors track, neck and neck with brand new cars, course models or modest Deudeuches straight out of the film Le Corniaud, rocking and puffing towards the start, panting bravely on the last climb, the one where you regularly stall while re-passing the first, when you’ve had the chance to escape the plate of ice in ambush on the exit of the last corner.
Alongside the 32 crews entered, the 2CV Méhari Club Cassis runs five exceptional cars, just for fun. There is “Bi-Bip 2”, a 2CV 4×4 Sahara with two engines. A highly sought-after rare model, only 693 of which were made between 1960 and 1967. Next to it, the “Raid” is an adventurer, who trudged through the desert in 2018, during the Morocco Rally. Sturdy, bodybuilt, the blue and white “Deuggy” is a real little racing car. Its precise gearbox, its suspension and its pick-ups give it a very clear advantage on all segments of the circuit.
It is not fair ? No one would think to take offense. If everyone is pedaling uphill in the hope of overtaking the buddy who missed his trajectory, everything is forgotten at the next bend. “A lot of people don’t even watch the timer, what they want is to drive” confirms Bertrand Bruna, marketing & communication manager of the 2CV Méhari Club Cassis.
The only rule? Everything is allowed, or almost
“It’s a crazy thing ! Where is the 2nd? Just because it’s rudimentary and stripped down to the essentials doesn’t mean it’s easy. Perverted by years of an automatic gearbox and having just gotten out of the rental SUV that took us to the station, when downshifting to attack the hill where all overtaking is played out, the gear lever reveals its frankly hostile, borderline deceitful nature. . We stall, it’s fatal. “It’s coming fast, don’t worry”, reassures François Allain, who plays the co-driver and risks having to push the car which is skating on the ice.
No choice, we will have to regain momentum and let ourselves go down in reverse to regain grip. “Where is the reverse gear?” Small rotation of the wrist to the left, we push the lever… there is no small victory: we hold it! “The Deuche is a really nice car, a super funny car as soon as you get used to it,” he further encourages. Yes it will come, we will get used to it and it is true that on snow or ice, its featherweight works wonders. “For driving on snow it’s great. It’s such a light car, with small tyres, it goes everywhere.”
During this time, it doubles to the right, to the left, or even both at the same time if you have really badly negotiated your turn. Because no, there are no rules. We are among the Deuchists here, not at Le Mans. The organization requires only one thing, laminated tires, studded or not, which are used on the road. For the rest, we trust the crews and self-management is in order. “It’s the Deuchist spirit, it’s free, there are no rules, apart from safety and the gentleman driver spirit.
“After the race, we talk, we repair the cars together and we have a drink” appreciates Bertrand Bruna who recognizes that the principles of this regularity race could evolve at the request of certain participants, to integrate speed events in 2023. “The important thing is that people are happy and happy.” Faced with the success of this 2022 edition, which has grown from 20 to 32 participants and the support of 2CV clubs, the organization begins to dream of a championship. At a top speed of 30 km/h, the face whipped by the snow and the windshield wipers fully so that the windshield doesn’t freeze, that’s for sure, we’ll be there!