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Vichy, 24th of April

After the first leg yesterday from Paris to Orléans the second and longest of the 5 days led today from Orléans south to Vichy. The day was dominated by 3 castle visits in the morning and the race at the French Grand Prix Circuit in Magny Cours, representative folly on one side and modern functionality on the other.

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The first castle to visit in the morning was the biggest and maybe most famous of the chateau in the Loire Valley - Chambord. The hunting lodge built in the 16th century might be one of the most photographed castles in the world and many of the passing TA entrants took the opportunity to take a picture of their car in front of it. Chambord is a superb location for classic cars as one could see at last year's Ferrari 250 GTO Tour when the cars were parked in front of the main entrance.

Not far from Chambord was the second castle visit of the day, Chateau Cheverny. Smaller and not built for the royal family this baroque Castle is still in family ownership and has a nicely trimmed park.

After a special stage in the late morning the convoy had to do some mileage so the way led partially over the nearby motorway to the direction of Nevers, home of the Magny Cours Circuit.

Over small country roads the journey led to the lunch break, another Chateau dating from the 12th century. Compared to the representative buildings in the later years this era saw the castles built as a fortress with water ditch and towing bridge. Most of the cars were parked on the outside of the building but a few of the later arriving regularity class took the narrow bridge to park in the bailey.

Strengthened by the lunch the races of the day at Magny Cours were 8 Lap races in every group on the modern circuit. The results were very much the same as the day before with the GTAs running well in front in Plateau 3, the Ford GT40 in Plateau 4 and Porsche strong in the Plateau 5. But not all frontrunners made it to the finish line as the material is stressed both on the track and the bumpy roads, the Cobra Daytona Coupe was rolling out on its second to last lap and was later missed in the Parc Fermé so a further participation on the following days might be doubtful. Others needed some major work in the evening or even roadside to be back in the race, with a time limitation for the mechanics to work on the car without penalty some had to abandon their hope for a good classification. Especially the breaks, the clutch and the suspension are used very hard on the open road, on one of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB the entire back axle was changed in the evening giving the mechanics a short night as they were still working when the last cars of the regularity class arrived from the last special stage of the day well after 10:00 pm.

The third leg tomorrow will lead further south to Albi. Unlike the previous days the race meeting will not be during the day but at the end of the stage as the Circuit is also the bivouac.

Report & images ... Peter Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de