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Tour Auto 2019 ... Vichy - Tours

009 LANCIA Fulvia 1600 HF 1971  - Elliot SUCARI _ Alan Nicolas SCHENQUERMAN  (ARG _ ARG ).jpg

009 LANCIA Fulvia 1600 HF 1971 - Elliot SUCARI _ Alan Nicolas SCHENQUERMAN (ARG _ ARG ).jpg


Dijon, 3 May, 2019 

Nick Mason once differed between car rallies one is gaining weight and those one is losing. The first ones are tours leading from one Michelin Star Restaurant to the other over picturesque roads with countless coffee stops. The later ones are more like the Tour Auto: about 14 hours of driving with a short buffet lunch stop, visit to the race track and driving special stages on unknown country roads preferable in the mountain. A quick dinner at the parc fermé at the destination of the day with short nights in hotel chains. So what is it that brings the 240 participants back to the TA every year spending a fortune to prepare and enter the car, have a team of mechanics look after it over five days to have it rebuilt (more or less) after the week?

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It is the adventure of driving, the competition and the diversity. Unlike other events like the Mille Miglia one can actually really call it a race as just as in old times of the Tour de France the special stages and the racing at the track are just connected by a drive in the countryside. And other things are very different from the probably most famous and prestigious classic car rally in Brescia: one does drive the TA for himself rather than thousands of spectators along the road, the seen and to be seen is minimized to the spectators at the race tracks and the locals standing preferable in the roundabout of the town. And the change of the road is a big plus over the MM as the Tour Auto does start every year in Paris but the final destination changes from year to year, sometimes down to the Cote d ´Azure, sometimes to the Atlantic and less common to the north like this year’s arrival in Deauville. After the first legs leading to Dijon, Lyon and Vichy today the journey led to Tours on the way up. 

And in all these days not just the landscape and the roads change but also the weather giving about everything on could imagine. After some sunny hours on the first leg through the traditional rape fields and the roads through the champagne the second day started with a lot of fog and some rain before the sun was out in the afternoon. Yesterday again was a mix of the weather and the first arrival in the mountains that should become a spectacular background for the first special stage of the day at the Col de la Croix Saint-Robert that saw some sleet. On the afternoon in contrary the region was flat with straight roads through endless field flanked by wind wheels. 

As different as the landscape is as different are the race tracks. After visiting two of the more modern race tracks in Dijon and the former French GP circuit in Magny-Cours today was one of the more traditional circuits on the plateau with the hilly track of Charade. Not suitable for modern racing with the required safety standards this rural track might suit the historic cars best.

As surprising the events of the route and the weather are as surprising are the results from time to time. Every year about the same favorites start on the very same cars with several AC Cobras, a few hot-rodded Jaguar E-Types and a bunch of GT40 chasing each other’s into mistakes, not always the fastest makes it to the podium but sometimes to most consistent and the most reliable. 

This year might be one of them as after the 4th leg the Lotus Elan 26R of Favaro / Badan is leading in front of two Porsche 911 2.0L and another Lotus, all within one minute overall. All the favorites dropped out or fell back starting with the Cobras of Cottingham / Smith as well as the one of Caron / Gagick on day one followed by the ones of Freeman / Armstrong and Gill / Didcock as well as the GT40 of Wislon / L´Anson. This left Lajournande / Bouchet on Jaguar E-Type in a comfortable lead but after the 10th special stage the Jaguars was out of the classification.

So tomorrow will be the last day of the TA and one can be curious whether the first 4 make it to the finish or whether we see again a change in the lead on the very last day. The race will be held on the circuit Bugatti in Le Mans and the finish line will be in Deauville.

Text & Images … Peter Singhof