LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) - An English race track accustomed to hosting the elite of British motorsport welcomed a souped-up collection of one of France’s most iconic vehicles, often derided for their snail-like looks and speed, for the annual 24 Hour Citroen 2CV race this weekend.
Some 27 teams made up of between two and four drivers set off at 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Saturday for the contest between the cars, which were in production between 1948 and 1990.
Its distinctive exterior-mounted headlights, raised rear end and pronounced lean on curves make the 2CV an unlikely race car, particularly as critics often joked the “tin snail” could to 0-60 km in one day. But the drivers defended its capabilities.
“They’re faster than they look, they feel like F1 cars when you’re inside them so yeah it’s great fun,” said John Paul Wilkinson, one of the drivers who competed at the Snetterton circuit in the eastern county of Norfolk during the weekend.
Newcomers Beacon Downe managed to complete 708 laps of the 1.952 miles (3 km) circuit to claim the win on Sunday in what proved to be a hotly contested race, which saw the lead change hands several times.
The 2CV was conceived as an inexpensive vehicle that would tempt French farmers away from using a horse and cart.
The model number stands for “deux chevaux-vapeur” - or “two horsepower” - a reference to its taxable rate based on cylinder dimensions rather than the actual engine power. The smallest 2CV engines packed nine horsepower as measured in most modern cars. (Writing by Patrick Johnston in London, editing by Andrei Khalip)