Michel Vaillant and his Vaillante car are ready for their maiden appearance in the FIA World Touring Car Championship that is going to happen next week at the Autódromo Internacional de Algarve, in Portugal.
The part of the comic book character - created in the Fifties by French artist Jean Graton - will be played by Alain Menu, whose Chevrolet Cruze car will be dressed up like a Vaillante.
“I’m happy and excited at the same time, because Michel Vaillant was a great part of my youth. When I was a kid and teenager I used to read all his comic books several times over, dreaming I would become a F1 driver. To be Michel Vaillant is something I never expected!” Menu said.
Part of the Chevrolet team will participate in making the comic scene real, as Chevrolet Motorsport Manager Eric Nève (who will play the role of Jean-Pierre Vaillant – Michel’s elder brother and Vaillante’s head of motorsport) explained: “We have been working to change the whole look. The racing overall of Alain/Michel, the team’s uniforms, the livery of the car, the truck and the garage”.
Jean Graton’s son Philippe, head of the Studio Graton, will attend the WTCC event in Portugal to witness his own hero taking part in an actual race for the first time.
“The most amazing thing about Michel Vaillant is that he races somewhere between fiction and reality. His stories have always been so accurate and realistic that professional drivers declared they wouldn't be surprised to see him actually appearing on a racetrack. Well, this is going to happen! Never has another comic strip described a world with such realism, nor inspired so many vocations of drivers, journalists and designers. The influence of Michel Vaillant on today's motorsport is undisputed, and this sympathetic event in Portugal is obviously a wink, but with a true and symbolic meaning,” Philippe Graton commented.
The whole operation revolves around the launch by Dupuis and Studio Graton of a new series of Michel Vaillant’s adventures that will kick off in November with a story set in the WTCC.
“I wanted to give Michel Vaillant a new start,” Graton explained.
“If he stays on top of Formula One, and Vaillante is the most successful manufacturer, where is the adventure? There are times, for a hero, to be challenged again, to be thrown back into the lion pit, to find himself alone and having to prove his value again. The WTCC is a perfect place for that, as its drivers are among the best, but they are not victims of stardom. They are strong and tough and the championship is about true racing, not celebrity and money. The WTCC cars don't look like spaceships, they are close to those you see on the road. This is the perfect place for Michel Vaillant to be tested again and for him to understand if his love for racing is still intact!”