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In the morning, the three grids in the competition section were the first to measure themselves against one
another in the long rapid timed Sinotte stage, which the drivers used to get into the groove. British duo
Andrew Smith-James Cottingham, last year’s winners, set the fastest time in their Ford GT40 and confirmed
their intention to score another outright victory this year. They were followed by another British pairing, Chris
Ward-Andy Elcomb (E-Type Jaguar), who finished second only 2 seconds behind, and French crew Ludovic
Caron-Denis Giraudet whose Shelby Cobra suffered a cylinder head problem before the start of the first timed
stage. The French crew handicapped by the loss of a cylinder managed to keep the gap to the leaders down
to 14 seconds. Unfortunately, the problem became more serious on the Dijon-Prenois circuit on which Caron
finished 17th more than two minutes behind the race winner, Smith, ahead of Ward and a third Englishman
Ben Gill at the wheel of a Shelby Cobra 289. In the overall classification the British are currently lying in first,
second and fourth places. Jean-Pierre Lajournade-Christophe Bouchet (E-Type Jaguar) managed to slip into
third place preventing total English domination in the first leg.
The French put on a much better performance in the Regularity section in which they are in the first three
positions at the end of the first leg. Jean Rigondet-Olivier Souillard (CG 1200S) took first place ahead of
Mathieu Sentis-Gaëtan Demoulin (Peugeot 504) and Philippe Fichet-Xavier Malenfer (Lancia Fulvia 1600 HF).
Tomorrow, Wednesday, the crews will quit Besançon and head up into the mountains on their way to Mégeve
at 1050 metres above sea level. On the second day’s programme they will cover 423 km with two special
stages and a race on the Bresse circuit.
Report & images ... Peter Singhof
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