“The car stays in the family”

“The car stays in the family”

The Porsche 911, which rally champion José Barbara raced between 1986 and 1992 and crushed the competition, was auctioned yesterday in Le Touquet. Its happy new owner is Philippe Catteau, who was a mechanic in Barbara’s family workshop in Aire-sur-La Lys. He bought a car for 230,000 euros.

More than 500 car races, more than 100 motorcycle victories, as many successes in cars, José Barbara, the legend of motorsport in the region, marked his era in the 70s, 80s, 90s by winning. “most league titles without winning a national title”in the words of Gilles Guillon, publisher, journalist and former driver of José Barbara during three races.

“I was reading the comments this morning, and they are mostly positive, like: ‘the car stays in the family!’ Porsche is not leaving!”, explains Gilles Guillon. The person who wrote about José Barbara took part in three races – with José Barbara – as co-pilot… In Beauvais in 1989 (victory with 911). In Dunkirk (interruption of the meeting due to an accident) or Villeneuve d’Ascq (victory against BMW) in 1992.

At that time, media coverage of so-called League public meetings was not the same as it is today. The greatness of José Barbara, a pilot from Pas-de-Calais, meant that all the regional media followed his performances, FR3 which published VHS cassettes of the type: “the year of Barbara”, three or four years in a row, Frequency North, La Voix des Sports, everyone followed the champion.

With a saintly character, he was “the most loved, the man to beat” and “when we looked for him we found him”, explains Gilles Guillon, who remembers that José Barbara started with Thierry Sabine (another regional driver known for having created the Le Touquet and Dakar enduro) at Ford. “José already had a very good experience in motorcycle racing in the 1960s. But following a back problem, he became a racing driver”.

He died on January 2, 2017, in Le Touquet, at the age of 72 following a heart attack, the man was still driving. He has won the Le Touquet rally eight times and the Aire-sur-la-Lys rally 11 times. His Porsche, which until now belonged to an unknown Touquettois, has been sold for 230,000 euros. The lucky buyer is none other than a former student at Barbara’s workshop in Aire-sur-La-Lys: Philippe Catteau, who also comes from the family of former owners of the Cédico supermarket, also a former sponsor of José Barbara. He told the Northern Voice: “I hope that from there, José will shed a few tears when he thinks that, in fact, his memory is expensive, but it was important to pay him this tribute”.