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Limoges, 26th of April, 2013

Today the second to last day of this year´s Tour Auto Optic 2000 led from Albi to Limoges, the capitol of the departement Haute-Vienne.

As intended in yesterday´s reports the race sequence changed with the regularity group 1 starting early and the competition group 5 being last on the road, so after a short night the first regularities took the road at 7:00 am, the usual starting time of the TA. Unfortunately after the sunny eve the weather changed over night with overcast sky and just few sunny spots during the day. As the fourth day did not include a track race this was the only day with three special stages spread out over the day.

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The first of these special stages called “Les côtes du Tarn” was just a few miles out of Albi on small country roads between Lisle-sur-Tarn and Salvagnac so the drivers and co-pilots had to be focused on their time right from the beginning, nothing for the morning crouch especially after the last short nights. The regularity entries had to choose their time before the beginning of the Tour either in low, middle or high average and every second differing from this allocated time gives the penalty for the stage and the overall classification. Easier is the approach of the competition, as the name indicates the drivers are on attack for the best time both on the special stages and the track. Unfortunately some of them were also very motivated in the normal traffic in the past so the speed in between the stages is controlled by the marshals with laser guns, speeding will give additional penalties adding to the actual race penalties or overtime at the service. When looking on the penalty table this is one of the most common records, which is even worse when leading the race. This also includes the pace of the accompanying crews as some of the transporters seem to fly low on the twisty roads rushing from service to service.

Before lunch time another special stage was held in Bonaguil, again dominated by Caron (winner of the TA 2011) on AC Cobra, yesterday´s leader Monteverde in another Cobra and the Jaguar E-Type of Lajournade. They changed positions on all of the three stages of the day but the later will go into the final day as the leader as he is the only one of the trio without penalties so far.

Lunch was served in the Chateau de la Brourlie in the Périgord. Whereas the first classes could enjoy lunch on the back terrace the later had to move to the inside as the rain set in during the break. First starting as a drizzle the rain became a permanent companion for the rest of the day, leaving the surrounding scenery disappear in grey. This took some of the fun passing some wonderful castles of all sizes, typical small churches in the villages normally adding to the charm of the Tour Auto beside the competition aspect.

Unlike the Tour de France for bicycles the Tour Auto will not see a tour d´honneur on the final day with a fixation of the status quo as the leading teams in all categories are well within seconds so they will attack again for the prestigious overall win, the class wins and the index of performance.

The last day of the Tour Auto will lead over a “short” 315 km to the final destination La Rochelle after another special stage and the final race meeting in Val de Vienne. Tomorrow evening the champagne bottles will be opened and the winners will be celebrated after 2187 kilometer of driving though France.

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