Caron goes off – Lajournade leads!

The drivers in the 23rd Tour Auto Optic 2ooo had a relatively short fourth leg of 304 km punctuated by three special stages. After leaving Aix-les-Bains and the Lac du Bourget they crossed the Chatreuse and Vercors national parks, the Bourne Gorges, saw the beautiful Levant Mountains and went through the Limouches pass to enjoy a fantastic panoramic view.

For the first time since the start of the event the drivers in the regularity section led the field. They were the first to drive the Massif d’Epine stage, a typical narrow mountain road in the woods. Stéphane Péculier in his Triumph TR3 was the most consistent in respecting his set average and won the first stage of the day from Jean Rigolet in his Porsche 356B and Henri-Georges Meylan’s Alpine A110. After that the drivers in the racing category tackled this timed stage on closed roads. In VHC Ludovic Caron added another win to his tally making it seven out of nine since the start of the event. Behind him came Philippe Giauque and Jean-Pierre Lajournade in their E-Type Jaguars. Victory in the G, H and I Groups went to Roman Rocher in his Porsche 906, Christophe Van Riet in a 2.7-litre Porsche 911 RS and Jacques Entremont in his Gr IV Ferrari 308 Michelotto.

The second stage of the day, Saint Bonnet de Chavagne, was won by Swede Frederick Rudebeck in his Jaguar XK 140 Roadster. It was the scene of a major upset in VHC when the leader Caron’s Cobra went off. The crew managed to get it back on the road and finished the stage in 70th place 3m 43sec behind the winner Shaun Lynn in another Cobra. Rocher (Porsche 906) and Entremont (Gr IV Ferrari 308 Michelotto) won in Groups G and I respectively, while Grégory Driot in his De Tomaso Pantera scored his first victory in Group H.

The final stage of the fourth leg of the Tour Auto Optic 2ooo was the Combovin special. It was a real hill climb on the mountainside with quick sections and tight hairpins in the Monts du Levant. Victory in the regularity category went to Jean-Michel Arlaud in his Porsche 356 B, but in the lead when the cars reached Valence was Georges Henri Meylan in his Alpine A110. In VHC Caron in his Cobra, which still carried the traces of his off, made it a point of honour to score his eighth stage win. However, his chances of overall victory seem heavily compromised. Tomorrow Lajourande will start the final day as leader in his E-Type Jaguar and will head on to the finish on the 2014 event in Marseille. Rocher and Entremont both scored a hat trick on day 4 and lead the overall classification in their groups. Jürgen Barth in his 2.8 litre Porsche 911 RSR scored another win in Group H.

On Saturday the drivers will leave Valence to cover the 384 km separating them from the finish in Marseille after the Colombier special stage and the final race on the Paul Ricard circuit.