Toulouse, 23rd of April, 2015
The third of the five legs led today from Clermont-Ferrand to
Toulouse with a total driving distance of 463 km including two
special stages and the races in Albi.
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Being the longest of the five days on the road today´s leg was
opened at 6:30 am again by the first competition class. Before
sunrise the Aston Martin DB4 GT with race number 150 set of
from the parc fermée into dawn towards south. Again the terrain
changed a lot from the previous days as after the rape fields on
the opening days and the forest stages on the second the first
impression at sunrise was the windy plateau near
Clermont-Ferrand with a visibility to the nearby snowed mountain
tops. With temperatures in the single degree celsius range and
even lower felt temperatures especially the drivers of few
remaining Barchettas like the Maserati 200S, the Porsche 550A
and the OSCA MT4 had to dress accordingly to enjoy the
morning. With most of the trees still without leaves the region did
not look very much like spring.
The first special stage was held after two hours of driving at
Riom-es-Montagnes. With a large uphill section and a twisty
downhill this was the perfect playground for the Jaguar of the
overall leader Lajournade who could add a few seconds on its
rivals on the Cobras. Although the GTA of Furiani/Werner was
again on his heals the small Alfa is not the main opponents due
to its lack of power on the closed-off circuits but still another
impressive drive of Max Werner put them on the second place in
this section. Third was the Cobra of Curon with 12 seconds
behind the leader whereas the third placed Cobra of Shaun Lynn
lost more than half a minute.
The second special stage was on the program before lunch but
first the tour had to cover a 160 km distance towards Estaing.
This rally section was again a very close fight between the three
fastest cars of the morning but this time the GTA could succeed
with a blink of an eye by just one second over the Jaguar that
could enlarge its lead on the Cobra on the other hand.
After the two special stages it was time for lunch at a rural estate
at La Goudalie. Again many visitors parked on the outside as
these lunch stops are very popular to see the cars in the close.
On the other hand one is wondering about the places people are
watching the Tour Auto as most of them could be seen in the
many roundabouts on the outside of the small villages or even on
the bridges on the motorway where the cars are blasting by.
From the lunch stop the journey led further south towards Albi
where today race was held. For the first time since the cars left
Paris the drivers of the open cars had to worry about the weather
as the sky looked pretty dark but fortunately just a small shower
spoiled the fun on its way.
Whereas the races of the competition was held in the afternoon
sun it was again the regularity who ran into dusk with their timed
laps on the circuit. Unlike the last time when the Tour Auto was
at Albi the final destination was not the exposition centre next to
the track but even further south in Toulouse. The way there was a
pure motorway run with a police escorted convoy leading the last
miles to the city centre. Well after 10 pm the last of the regularity
cars entered the parc fermée giving the drivers and their
navigators a very short night. Traditionally the fourth leg will see
the change in the race order as the regularity classes will lead the
Tour for the last two days of the event. For that reason tomorrows
leg will start an hour later than today.
With a total distance of 370 km and two special stages the Friday
will lead west to Pau, this will be the only day without a circuit
In the overall classification the Jaguar of Lajournade could expand
its lead to about half a minute on Curon and a further minute to
Lynn but this is still quit close. The race at Albi saw a battle
between the podium cars well in front of the rest of the field so it
did not change the order.
In the small class G the leader is the BMW 2800 CS of
Gauduel/Delaye with 44 seconds whereas the class H sees a tie
between the Porsche 3.0 RS of Van Riet/Cartenian and the De
Tomaso Pantera Gr.4 of Sirgue/Sigue in front of the Ligier that
suffered a one minute penalty today.
Report & images … Peter Singhof