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Aix-les-Bains - Valence, 11th of April, 2014

The second to last stage of this year’s Tour Auto led from Aix-les-Bains to Valence, capitol of the département Drome. Situated in the region of the Rhone-Alps this day was expected to have some nice hillside roads and the participants were not left disappointed. As today there was no track racing in compensation no less than three special stages led the tour through the twisty mountain roads of the region. Although this was the shortest leg of this year’s Tour Auto the lack of highway miles and the slower speed in the mountains did not make this day much shorter than the other ones.

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As mentioned yesterday the race order of the groups changed with the regularity leading the convoy for the last two days. At 8 am the first car, a Renault 4CV left the parc fermé in Aix-les-Bains towards the first special stage at the Massif de l´Epine.

After the special stage maybe the most enjoyable drive so far led through the Vercors massif. This was also the first time during this year’s TA that one could see a little bit more interest by the locals in the tour as a few local car clubs joined in and followed the competitors through the narrow canyons and in the serpentines were sitting several spectators. Certainly this is not the same ambience as at the Mille Miglia but in the previous days one could rarely see people roadside waving the cars going by and one does not have the impression that even many people know about the tour, even when they live along the road. Maybe the difference is the ever changing layout of the tour year by year (compared to a mainly fixed MM), apart from the parc fermé and the announced stops at the Optic2000 shops of the main sponsor few locations are known. On the other side most of them were well prepared as the entry list posted on the official web site of the TA could be seen in most of the spectator’s hands together with cameras of different sizes to capture the cars.

The Vercors-Valleys are certainly a perfect spot for that as the roads are carved in the solid rocks giving a lot of overhanging passages and tunnels. Unfortunately the traffic was quit heavy sometimes as the competitors were often stuck behind their assistance vehicles, most of them even with a trailer.

After the second special stage the lunch was taken at Couvert des Carmes, the ruin was several times stopping point during the last years when the tour was in the region.

As mentioned the previous days a small mistake led to the change in the lead of the overall classification. After the second hill climb the leading Cobra of Caron/Villaucourt showed some scars on the right hand front, most likely from a contact with a stone so the team dropped back behind to eighth position but as the car seemed to work properly after that a day’s best on the last special stage was possible.

Leader is now another Cobra of Shaun Lynn teamed with co-pilot Kevin Kivlochan with about one minute in front of the first E-type.

The final leg tomorrow will lead south to Marseille; the final special stage in the morning will be followed by the deciding race at Paul Ricard in Le Castellet.

Report & images … Peter Singhof