Portel-des-Corbières. Top Gear France and Luc Alphand on set

the essential
Well known by motorsport enthusiasts, the Lastours circuit hosted the filming of an episode of the Top Gear France show. Luc Alphand and his gang tested several vehicles in an environment similar to that of the Dakar Rally.

In the middle of the wind turbines, on the slopes of the heights of the Château de Lastours, the roaring of engines can be heard. They are those of the Zéphyr, a buggy piloted by Yann Larret-Menezo, known as “the Tone”, and Luc Alphand. The latter, former winner of the Alpine Skiing World Cup in 1997 and the Dakar Rally in 2006, recently joined the team of Top Gear France hosts, derived from the iconic BBC car show.

A great added value for the program broadcast on RMC Découverte since 2015, which should release a special episode on the Dakar Rally in the first quarter of 2022. “It is a somewhat special program which will last an hour and which will be called Mission Dakar. We’re doing the first part here in Lastours, the second, more historical part will be shot in our studio in Brienne-le-Château, and in January we are going to the Dakar in Saudi Arabia.“, explains Jack Thomas-Richard, executive producer and production manager at BBC Studios France.

A unique circuit in Europe

The Lastours circuit offers a variety of scenery that sometimes even resembles the Saudi Arabian desert, a feature almost unique in Europe. “In France, I don’t know of a single other better place to simulate rally-raid tracks. It is unheard of luck that Château Lastours can offer this kind of land. It’s very rich, very varied, it’s a landscape that gives us the feeling of being very far away. I’ve been passionate about motorsport for over 40 years, thanks to the Dakar. So being able to do it here in France, at Château Lastours for me, it’s just great“, says Fabien Gérard, who writes the script for the show.

The place is magical because it allows you to do a lot of different things, adds Antoine Elizabé, one of the directors. In terms of production, the difficulty is to find lots of different places. Here we have all this wealth. The high point is to have incredible machines coming from the Dakar. So with all these toys in an amazing place, you can only do one good subject. Then we have the guests who are doing well so it’s great“, he rejoices.

For Château Lastours, it is also a great opportunity to be highlighted by a specialist program. “Welcoming a team like that is visibility for us, it’s great. I’m impressed by the professionalism of the guys, they equip all vehicles with interior cameras and microphones, it’s a really big job. The whole day of Wednesday was dedicated to this, it is something that we are not used to seeing. Everything is really prepared and calculated, we see that it is not done in a hurry“, book Rémi Mathieu, event manager of the castle.

With its great history linked to motorsport, it was almost obvious for the Lastours circuit to host such a shoot around Luc Alphand, who had already come in the past. “I rode a lot at Lastours, for my first Dakar in 1998 there was a special here. That’s why it’s always a pleasure to come back“, he admits.

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