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Paris, 20th of April 2015

Finally the rally season starts in Europe with the first big driving event in April, the annual Tour Auto. Again more than 230 cars were lined up this morning at the Grand Palais for the scrutineering in the French Capital. Over the last years this first day became a fixed date for car enthusiasts as one could see by the amount of people standing in line in front of the historic building early in the morning on a working day. Sorted by marque the cars could be enjoyed in their diversity ranging from small touring cars like the Austin Mini or BMW 2002 to the brutish Ligier or Pantera in Group 4 configuration. Again 5 different groups will take the 1905 Kilometre through the French countryside along spectacular scenery to visit several Chateau for the lunch stops, 4 different race tracks and numerous special stages to play on, be it to “race” against the clock in the regularity or against others in the competition.

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Over the last years the entry field certainly changed a lot due to the massive value of some of the entered cars and like other driving events the exotic machinery gets less and less. But still the TA could set up an impressive field with 3 Ferrari 250 GT SWB and even again a 250 GTO to centre stage the display in Paris. Surrounded by a few Dinos and less 275 GTB than previously (“only” 8) but also an early 212 Export Berlinetta and a 225 S to follow last year’s Breadvan as one of the stars of this year’s event. Another Ferrari could be seen in the regularity group as part of the featured Barchetta cars, a 500 Mondial alongside the Maserati 200 S and a Porsche 550 A Spyder.

Although they are the public favourites most likely other cars will be in the focus over the next days for the class and overall victories. Again several AC Cobras are present to challenge the title defending Cobra of Shaun Lynn who just added a victory at the Goodwood Members Meeting to his preparations for the event. Most likely the fast Jaguar E-Types in race trim will be again chasing the snakes on the way to Biarritz and apart from pure speed the reliability will be most important again.

The route this year will again lead to the south-west with the final destination in Biarritz that was also the finish in 2011 for the last time. Way points will be Vichy, Clermont-Ferrand, Toulouse and Pau, the race tracks range from the modern Magny Cours Circuit to the historic Charade and Pau-Arnos with Albi in between.

Tomorrow morning will see the neutralized start from the Grand Palais at 6am to the Chateau de Courances to avoid the unpredictable traffic in the capitol on the way out.

After almost 140 km in the morning the first special stage will be held at Egleny to get the drivers and navigators into competition early on. After another 160 km the first race will be held at Magny Cours, the location of the last French GP on a very modern layout. Finally the convoy will arrive at Vichy after the longest stage of the week with a total of 499 kilometres.

Although the week is long one could expect the first challenges for the mechanics tomorrow both at the parc fermée at the track and at the final in Vichy. As the working time on the cars is very restricted technical defects can shuffle the classification on any day and most likely the first have to reset their goals for the week early on.

We are planning to accompany the Tour on every single mile from start to finish to keep you up-to-date on the days to come with small galleries and reports on every race day before we summarize the event in a follow-up next week.

Images & report … Peter Singhof