Comic book racing driver Michel Vaillant might not be particularly well known in the UK, but he is enormously popular in France and Belgium.
Originally created in 1957 by French artist Jean Graton, Vaillant has appeared in seventy publications as well as both live action and animated television series.
Now the character is set to compete in a real-life motor race - the seventh round of the 2012 World Touring Car Championship in Portugal, which takes place on the 3rd of June.
Swiss driver Alain Menu will be playing the part of Vaillant, and his Chevrolet Cruze, its truck and the team’s uniforms will all bear a special livery. In the role of Jean-Pierre Vaillant, Michel’s elder brother and boss of the fictional Vaillante team, will be Chevrolet Motorsport Manager Eric Nève.
Philippe Graton, Jean Graton’s son, commented: “The most amazing thing about Michel Vaillant is that he exists somewhere between fiction and reality. His stories have always been so accurate and realistic that professional drivers said they wouldn’t be surprised to see him appearing on a racetrack. Well, this is going to happen!
“Never has any other comic strip described a world with such realism, nor inspired so many drivers, journalists and designers. The influence of Michel Vaillant has on today’s motorsport world is undisputed and this incredible event in Portugal has a very symbolic meaning.”
There is a very good reason behind this marketing tie-in: a new collection of Michel Vaillant stories is due this November, and they’re going to be based around the WTCC.
With the season mid-point already reached, Alain Menu is lying third in the championship standings with 175 points, behind team-mates Yvan Muller (206) and Rob Huff (198).
Unsurprisingly, such dominance of the drivers’ table means that Chevrolet is also leading the chase for the manufacturers’ title, with 495 points amassed so far. BMW is in second place on 338, with Seat trailing in third with a tally of 293.
Related posts:Honda to enter the WTCC2012 WTCC calendar
Images © General Motors.
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