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Pau, 29th of April, 2022

We are almost there... we just finished the fourth and second to last day on our way through France starting in Paris and ending in Andorra tomorrow. Up to now we drove 8 special stages (of which on was cancelled as reported yesterday) and 3 circuits. We have a close competition running in between the Ligier of Mr. John of B and the Ford Escort of Kevin Jones with the Ferrari 365 GTB of the Team Lancksweert and the Porsche SC Group.4 of Jean not far behind. As reported earlier the lead is changing regularly depending whether we are on the track or in the wild on the special stages. With the first special stage in the morning the Escort could take a 33 seconds lead over the Ligier and with the second stage it extended to about 50 seconds but at the end of the day at Nogaro  the Ligier took back the top step of the podium by only 5 seconds. As we will only run 3 more special stages tomorrow the Escort has a good chance to take the victory of this year’s Tour Auto.

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Unlike the last days the crews were not greeted by a nice sunrise as the morning was grey and the sun barely made it through the clouds. Just like in the previous days (f.e. At La Baule) the route led back some of the same roads that were taken yesterday in the afternoon as a very catchy bridge was passed again. The regularity group was now leading the field as we headed east towards Duras. Further to the South-East we passed a few of the typical alleys that could be found all over France with huge trees giving a nice tunnel to drive through. After the lunch was taken in a chateau the second of the special stages was held and the checkpoint was next to a bull arena showing that we are getting closer to the Spanish boarder and culture. But the only bull seen during the Tour Auto was the sole Lamborghini Miura in the regularity class but this car was not seen the whole day. Other cars only seem to take shortcuts to get to the lunch stop and the finish line as they are rarely seen driving.

In the evening after the final race of this year we arrived at the Place de Verdun in Pau. Pau is prepared for the Pau GP and so one could see several streets closed making the way through the city with all these one-way streets even more difficult. Fortunately, the road book is pretty easy to read so this should not be a major problem for the seasoned rally participant.

After the cars entered the park fermé the daily maintenance routine is started by the service teams. Every evening they are timed for the time they spend on the car as to long repairs result in a time penalty. It is easy to see that basically every competition car gets a thorough check through for the tires, brakes and suspension whereas all the regularity cars are getting a rest after the driving day. Looking along the lines of cars in the car park one could see a lot of bended fenders, most of them on one of the regularities. The latest victim seems to be the yellow Ferrari Daytona Comp. that is said to have made a close contact with a wine yard. It certainly needs a nose job in one of the known beauty clinics.

After the stroll through the paddock meeting happy and tired people the dinner or the way to the hotels was a late one, even later for the mechanics still at the car. Although France is well known for its wine and certainly some wine will be served at the dinner the favorite in the parc fermé is still beer, and not only among the British mechanics who made it over.

Tomorrow will be the last day before the Tour Auto has another successful edition. We will be back for one more day and certainly also for the next years.

Report & images ... Peter Singhof