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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 racing.

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