Tour Auto Optic 2ooo – Leg 3 – Lyon / Valence – 21st April

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ClassicCarMag.net LogoJean-Pierre Lajournade and Christophe Bouchut in their Jaguar Type E left the Lyon parc fermé this morning in the provisional lead of the 25th Tour Auto Optic 2ooo on their way to do battle in the three special stages of the third day, the halfway mark of the 2016 event. Their aim was to arrive in Valance having increased their lead over their two closest pursuers, Ludovic Caron-Charles de Villaucourt in their Shelby Cobra 289 37 seconds behind, with the Shaun Lynn-Kevin Kivlochan Shelby Cobra 289 a further 59 seconds in arrears.

On the day’s programme was a drive through the Haute-Loire followed by the crossing of the Parc du Pilat to the Monts du Velay crossing along the way the highest point of the event, the Col de Charousse, 1241 metres above sea level. The first stage, the 11.8-km Rive de Gier, took place on a section where the cars could go flat out on a slight downhill slope on a fast wide road, which tightened up in the second part. Caron came out on top pulling back three seconds on Lajournade who ceded second place to another E Type driven by Thomas Leriche-Hugo Payen. Lynn finished 19th giving away 47 seconds to the leader. In the late morning the drivers tackled the famous Saint-Bonnet-Le-Froid special (12.8 km), formerly one of the highlights of the Monte Carlo Rally which, today, attracted many fans and spectators with nostalgic memories of the past. Lajournade hit back and beat his rival winning the stage by four seconds from Andrew Smith’s Ford GT40 with Caron in his Shelby Cobra 289 a further 13 seconds back.

The participants then stopped for lunch in the Château de Gourdan, a building constructed in the 18th century on the site of an old fort. This gave many of the teams the opportunity to swap stories of the thrills experienced earlier in the morning. To round off the third leg of the Tour the drivers found themselves in the Vercor for the third timed stage, the 9.3-km Bouvante en Royan special, well known to rally drivers. British crew Andrew Smith-James Cottingham in their Ford GT40, who had already shone in the previous stage, clinched their first victory since the start of the race by eight seconds from Lajournade’s E Type, and 12 seconds ahead of Caron’s Cobra. When the cars arrived in the Valance parc fermé on the Champs de Mars Esplanade, Lajournade-Bouchet were delighted as they had achieved their aim and stretched their lead over their main rival in the overall classification to 51 seconds. Lynn was now 2m 54sec behind the leader dead-heating with Leriche-Payen who had put on some scintillating performances in the third leg.

Tomorrow, the fields 1 & 2 in the regularity category will be the first to set off on the 414-km fourth stage comprising two specials and races on the Lédenon circuit. The Tour Auto Optic 2ooo field will then head for the Mediterranean with the finish on the MUCEM esplanade in Marseille.

Throughout the event Nathalie Vincent will keep you updated on the Web TV Optic 2ooo site so that you can live the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo from the inside!

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