Tour Auto 2015

Heroism and Heartbreak

Heroism and Heartbreak


After a successful comeback on day two which included the team’s first race win courtesy of Richard at Charade, hopes were high of climbing further up the leader board after Chris and Keith had moved up to 47th overnight with Richard and Tim now back into the top twenty.

Early morning problems, particularly for Huxley, were primarily the result of the French equivalent of haggis which had been served for dinner the previous night. Sitting alongside Meins as he flies through a special stage involves having everything clenched so this was dealt with easily, but Meins was worried at the strange smell his car was emitting, thinking he may have fried the clutch, but later learning it was just the haggis.  Yet another flat battery in the GT40 in the intercom system today meant that Huxley had to shout navigational instructions above the roar of the V8 engine, but anyone who has ever heard him make a speech knows this comes easily to.

Chris and Keith meanwhile motored on serenely, keeping out of trouble and posting hugely improved stage times now that the braking issues on the E type had been addressed.  Both crews tackled the two particularly challenging special stages without drama and setting good times, although Richard had a couple of particularly lurid slides as he went through a farmyard on a fast downhill section.

Lunch in another beautiful chateaux, still no wine, teams were warned that the Gendarme were particularly angry at all the speeding on road sections and that 5 participants had had their driving licences removed and were banned from driving in France for two months.   We decided to drive the afternoon in convoy as the E type had a functioning speedo and the GT40 didn’t and Richard doesn’t have a history of abiding by speed limits even if he did know his speed.
Having negotiated the long road sections without attracting the attention of the increasingly vigilant fuzz, despite running in convoy with  ‘Special Stage God’ Mark Freeman, the cars arrived at the Albi circuit about an hour from Toulouse, home of the Airbus.

Following his win yesterday, Richard was at the sharp end of the grid, although inexplicably , a Frenchman was put on pole position, not a surprise to anyone who has attended this event in the past. Chris was in the middle of the pack and looking to consolidate on Wednesday’s solid performance and not repeat his ‘Magny Cours Madness’. Chris achieved just that, coming in a fantastic 4th position, despite strong opposition.  Not quite sure how this happened, as he seemed to be overtaken by two chasing cars having run wide on the last lap and the last corner,  but the racing gods were on his side today and he was awarded the first non podium position.  Richard meanwhile had set about getting control of the race and by lap four had established a clear lead and looked set to follow up his Charade win with another famous victory. Then disaster struck as the differential exploded and punched a hole in the gearbox casing, leaving a trail of oil around part of the circuit. Out of the race immediately and any chance of a top ten finish gone.   Luckily the team were carrying a spare gearbox and they duly set about the car to get it changed.


Chris and Keith headed off for the formal day’s finish in Toulouse.  A police escort into the city helped avoid the rush hour traffic, a little known fact, but Morris, the airline pilot, has flown here on many occasions to test new Airbus planes before delivery, Morris is a well known celebrity in these parts and a welcome committee was on hand on arrival in parc ferme.  Chris and Matt were here to support us from Hong Kong, a long way to come to see an E-type and  GT40, especially when the GT40 didn’t show up.


Freeman, our other HK driver, was two hours late arriving in the paddock, unusual because the beer was being served and he wouldn’t want to miss that. When he did eventually arrive it transpired that he’d been caught speeding and when the Fuzz tried to stop him he carried on, however, he wasn’t driving, it was his copilot Nigel.  At the track after the race seven uniformed police officers arrived and arrested him, bundled him into a van and took him away.  After a few fines, for over EURO 2,000 all seemed well, but he has subsequently been thrown out of the event along with all other drivers caught speeding today.  They are making an example out of them.


Richard and Tim remain at the track as the hard working Wren team change the gearbox. It’s going to be a long night , but we will try and get both cars to the end if at all possible, we so want to see the Atlantic ocean on Saturday in Biarritz.

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