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Albi, 25th of April, 2013

With the third of five days driving though the French countryside the Tour Auto is already more than halfway through. Early at 7:00 am the competition classes sorted by age left the parc fermé in Vichy for a 459 km tour south to Albi, the capitol of the département Tarn in the Midi-Pyrenees. Unlike the previous two days the landscape became more and more interesting during the day with small hillside roads running through the forest, smaller mountain passes and passing through narrow villages. Because of a long and cold winter in central Europe the vegetation is not as green as in previous years as many trees are still wearing their winter outfit but the last couple of warmer days boosted the green on the meadows decked with flowers, so the atmosphere is very much between the seasons. The long cold period also kept the snow on the surrounding mountains when driving over one of the passes on the way. The first of these passes was the Col de Serre on the way to the morning special stage at Thiezac just before the lunch stop. When sitting in front of the Chateau de Pesteils on could hear the later classes blasting through the small mountain roads as the engine sound was echoed to the other side of the valley.

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Just after the lunch another 50 miles led to the Villecomtal and the second special stage of the day. Unfortunately in the afternoon the sky clouded up a little bit after nice sunshine in the morning but it stayed dry all day long. After the special stage another 80 miles had to be driven before the convoy entered Albi, with a nice drive through the old town centre with the crossing over the Tarn and a passing of the Cathedral.

Finally the cars arrived at the circuit of Albi with the attached exhibition centre that saw the race of the day and also serves as the parc fermé for the night. Although this is very easy for the logistic as the mechanics have the needed space and time to prepare the cars for the races and the next day and the numerous hotels near the exhibition centre this also meant that the races were held very late. Whereas the competition classes were able to finish their race before dusk the regularity class was running late into the dark as the last cars were still busy at 21:30 pm, long after sunset.

After the third day Carlos Monteverde took over the lead in his AC Cobra as the three frontrunners of the previous days were all dropped back with a penalty, presumable for overtime work by the mechanics in the car park. This will keep the TA interesting as in Albi again a lot of work had to be carried out. Yesterday we reported on a back axle change at a Ferrari 250 GT SWB, after a repair until 3:30 am the car was back on the road this morning leaving a very satisfied driver and a tired mechanic.
The regularity class has the traditional short night today as the chronological order will change for the fourth day with the regularity running in front of the competition for the last two days.
Tomorrow will be the race free day with a 476 km drive to Limoges and one could be curious what the landscape will look like tomorrow as this changes sometimes from departement to departement. Albi was the turning point of this year's TA as the road will head north to the Massif Central again.

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