Tour Auto Optic 2ooo – Leg 4 – Valence / Marseille – 22nd April

Filed under: Classic News |

Classic Car Magazine LogoToday was the fourth, and already the second-last, leg of the 25th Tour Auto Optic 2ooo. On the programme of this 414-km leg was a final drive to the upper reaches of the Ardèche to start the morning with the longest special stage in the rally – Le Moulinon – a 16.3-km stretch of road weaving its way through the bottom of a valley. It seemed made to measure for Jean-Pierre Lajournade-Christophe Bouchet, the Tour Auto leaders since day 1, whose Jaguar Type E won again with 12 seconds in hand over the Ford GT40 driven by Andrew Smith-James Cottingham and 21 seconds in front of the Shelby Cobra of Ludovic Caron-Charles de Villaucourt.

The field then set off for the south to discover the charming village of Bouchet (Drôme), and have lunch in a Cistercian Abbey for nuns built by the Prince of Orange in 1150. Later on it became a textile factory and then a cellar for aging the best wines of the Côtes de Rhone region. The building has been part of the local council’s heritage since 2005. After drinking in the beauty of the site and a cup of coffee, the drivers got back behind the wheel and headed for Nîmes for the final stage of the day, Saint-Victor-La Coste (7.1 km). Although it was a short special the drivers had to keep their wits about them as it was run on a fairly bumpy road. Victory again went to Lajournade-Bouchet who eked out another four seconds over Caron-de Villaucourt and Smith-Cottingham (dead heat).

When Lajournade arrived at the Lédenon circuit, which hadn’t hosted the Tour Auto for a long time, in his Jaguar he had a 1m 16sec lead over Caron’s Shelby Cobra. Since the start of the rally the Cobras have been quicker on the circuits, so victory went to British driver Sean Lynn’s Shelby followed by Caron in second place and Lajournade in third hot on his heels: finally he only lost a second.

Thus the Frenchman’s Jaguar Type E arrived in Marseille where the Tour Auto finished in 2014, and drove under the Arch marking the finish, erected on the MUCEM Esplanade on the edge of the Mediterranean having again increased his lead in the fourth and second-last leg.

In the G & H Competition Groups, Arnaud Gauduel-Alexandre Delaye (BMW 2800 CS) and Florent Jean-Philippe Talabard (308 Gr IV Ferrari Michelotto) led their respective classifications. In the Regularity classification three seconds covered the first three! The Alpine Renault A110 1600 Ss of Georges Henri Meylan-Julien Stervinou and Jean-François & François Nicoules filled the first two places followed by the Ferrari 250 GT of Eric Hamoniau-Arnaud Dernoncour.

Tomorrow, the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo caravan will set out on the final leg for Cannes and its famous Croisette. They will have a particularly long day as 421 km have to be covered. It includes three special stages, the last two in the night of Saturday-Sunday, and races on the Paul Ricard circuit where the participants will also have lunch.

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!