Day Two Modena Centro Ore Italy 2016

Day two of the 2016 Modena Cents Ore dawned with heavy rain in the coastal resort of Rimini. First duty of the day was to navigate the short coastal run to Circuit Misano. With the track still very wet as the cars went out to practice it was a slow start learning the racing lines through rain and oil spread over the track by one of the competitors. Richard was 4th, Chris was 5th on the grid and as the lights went out the Freeman Cobra shot off the line from 3rd position, the E type also  getting the jump on the slow starting GT40. By the first corner Richard was fighting his way back, down the inside of the E type and into third behind the Cobra. Half way around the first lap under intense pressure from the GT40 Freeman in the Cobra slid very sideways on the fastest corner, looking like a pro from the film “Tokyo Drift”. Richard following closely had to take avoiding action across the tarmac runoff at about 150mph.  Somehow they both managed to keep their cars under control.  Two corners later Freeman surrendered second place to the GT40 which ended up coming home 18 seconds ahead of the Cobra but losing valuable seconds to the winning pro driven Jaguar.  With Chris in the E-type having a steady and uneventful race in tricky conditions into 7th place, conscious of the trip into the gravel on the Tour Auto last year and the huge penalty points incurred….

Then followed a 100 km road section via San Marino, to the first Special Stage (SS) of the day. This was a fast and flowing stage perfect for the GT40 and allowed our racing legends to come to the fore. The final results of SS 1 saw Richard victorious with a time of 4.27, 2 seconds faster than the leading Jaguar, with the Freeman Cobra 7 seconds adrift and just 2 tenths of a second quicker than Chris.

On the way to the lunch break Tim performed his traditional navigational error resulting in a slight detour and being late for lunch which was held in a Franciscan Monestary built on the top of a Tuscan hill some 500 years ago.. Onwards to the second and stage of the day. Richard and Chris were clearly brimming with confidence and despite some rain and a very greasy and slippery road, the final stage of the day required the superhuman skills these two pilots are internationally known for. Even though Tim lost himself on the pace notes, Richard was again victorious, with a time 3.5 seconds faster than the Cobra with the E type of Chris and Keith just 7 tenths of a second slower.  The leading jaguar was a further 18.5 seconds behind.  Richard is now just 51 seconds behind the pro team leaders.

With the competitive mileage of the day completed the cars headed towards Florence for servicing and then into central Florence for a gala dinner in the Palazzo Vecchio, once home to the influential family Medici.  Tim who is well know for his ability to recall every grand prix winner over the past 50 years also wowed us with his knowledge of Michelangelo and Caravaggio the great Italian maestros of the 16th century.

Today showed how close and competitive this event is. We are only half way through, it’s like midnight at the Le Mans 24 hour race, the early hard work has been done but with countless challenges and hurdles still ahead.  The crews are on such exceptional form it is now imperative to ensure no mistakes are made and lady luck does not desert us.


Breaking news:  The day’s results show the GT40 has a 10 minute time penalty. We are not sure what this is for, so will be protesting in the morning.


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Day One Modena Centro Ore Italy 2016

Seven am on Wednesday and the crews competing in the Modena Cento Ore left the Grand Hotel Rimini for the 100 km dash to the famous Imola circuit named after Enzo and Dino Ferrairi. Tim managed his early morning navigational error although unlike last year this didn’t require him getting out to push the car. For Chris and Keith the journey to Imola was silky smooth. However there was more drama for the GT40 crew when they reached the end of the auto strada and the toll booth. Richard had a bright idea to save time, by jumping out of the car and payed the toll on foot. However the car had not triggered the beam to register arrival and with an impatient queue of drivers behind Richard decided to push the car a few extra yards forward to trigger the beam and initiate payment.  Richard pushed.  Sitting in the car, Tim diligently noticed the car rolling forward and wishing to avert catastrophe released his seat belts, leapt into the drivers side foot well and contorted like Harry Houdini pushed the brake pedal. The car stopped.  Richard pushed harder, and harder.  Eventually they sorted themselves out and proceeded through the toll to the track.

Once both crews arrived at this legendary track, Imola, and after a few practice laps, the cars formed up in number order, E-type 6th, GT40 18th… RIchard complained that they must have made a mistake, they hadn’t, all the E-types were together at the front of the grid.  An eventful first lap saw Chris bumped by an out of control Lotus Elan and then had the remaining race in the company of the Cobras.  Richard scythed through the field to third by the end of the first lap and then built up an unassailable lead by the end over the E types, the Cobras and one Lotus Elan.  The end of race saw Richard in first and Chris in 6th. A solid start to the day.

Leaving Imola it was then straight into the serious business of the Special Stages.  The four stages today were more suitable to the nimble cars, Lotus and Porsche. But Chris and navigating legend Keith set a solid tone to the day finishing 10th on stage one.  Richard with pace note virgin Tim, a car that didn’t want to get going out of the slow corners and Richard stopping half way through thinking he’d reached the end of the stage still finished 5th.  After one race and one special stage: GT40 1st overall and E-type 6th.

Three more special stages followed. Special Stage number two: Chris 11th, Richard 14th, Overall: Richard 3rd, Chris 7th. Special stage three: Chris 2nd, Richard 7th, Special stage 4: Chris 6th, Richard 7th.  The last stage being very wet and slippery (We didn’t think it would be raining in Italy in June).  After an arduous run back to Rimini over very narrow broken up roads we both finished the day with cars intact and at the sharp end of the grid.  The overall final results of the day show Mark Freeman 2nd. But just 8 seconds behind are Richard and Tim in the GT40 and 4th Chris and Keith snapping at their heels a further 23 seconds down.  Ahead and in 1st lies last year’s winner and BRDC member Philip Walker in an E- type.

To complete a relatively trouble free first day was a real result, and to find both the GT40 and the historic CUT 7 E-Type both at the sharp end on their Modena Cento Ore debut is a great achievement. It’s only one day into a four day marathon and there will be plenty more action starting tomorrow at the Misano race track and the subsequent special stages before the crews arrive in Florence on Thursday evening for dinner in the incredible 1299 built Pallazo Vecchio.  Hopefully today’s luck will hold and both crews will make further progress up the leader board tomorrow. But for tonight a drink in the Max Mara boutique in Rimini was the reward for a long day in the car, prosecco and a designer dress was all on offer, so we went next door for a beer….


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Eve of Modena Centro Ore Italy 2016

The eve of the 2016 Modena Cento Ore has seen cars and crew assemble in the Adriatic resort of Rimini.  Whilst Tim had a fairly uneventful flight from HK via Milan, Richard, Keith and Chris drove overland from UK via Monza and over the fabled St Gothard Pass.  Pounding across Europe in an Aston DB5 and Ferrari 355 is the stuff of dreams and replicated the iconic scene from the Bond movie Goldeneye with Bond racing Xenia Onatopp over the Alps.  The journey was for the most part uneventful. However Keith’s 355 was making a curious knocking noise subsequently identified as a failed wheel bearing.  Modena is probably the best place for this to happen and the car is now back at Ferrari being sorted out.  We hope that’s the only mechanical failure on this trip.

Following scrutineering and a fabulous dinner at the Grand Hotel it’s an early start from Rimini to the Imola circuit where the first race starts at 9am. With the GT 40 running without silencers and an earlier sound check to ensure Richard and Tim can hear each other over the intercom while the engine is running, suggests that firing up the car at 7am on Wednesday will provide a wake up call to the whole of the Adriatic coast.

It’s an incredibly strong field this year drawn from 18 countries, but provided the E-type can stay out of the gravel and the GT40 can hold together unlike the first day of the Tour Auto in France last year, a hoped for steady run will bring positive news tomorrow evening when returning to Rimini for a cocktail evening hosted by Max Mara.

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Modena Centro Ore Italy 2016

The 2016 edition of the Modena Cento Ore sees ace historic racing drivers Richard Meins and Chris Lillingston-Price reunited with co-drivers Tim Huxley and Keith Morris for an intense four day contest in northern Italy. The Modena Cento Ore is one of Europe‘s leading historic motor sport events, with a field of close to one hundred machines competing over four days.


Starting on 8th June on the Adriatic coast in Rimini, long a favourite of the British package tourist, the first day involves a race at the legendary Imola circuit, former home of the San Marino Grand Prix, before a series of special stages see the crews return to Rimini for the overnight halt. Day two takes in the Misano circuit on the Adriatic coast before an overnight stop in Florence, whilst the third and fourth days compirse further special stages on the undulating, flowing Italian roads and a race at another iconic circuit, Mugello, Ferrari’s Formula One test track and home to the Italian motorcycle Grand Prix, with the finish on Saturday evening in Modena, home to the legend that is Ferrari.


Once again, veteran racer, cyclist and Macau legend Richard and ace navigator Tim will be aboard the red Ford GT40 with Chris and Keith in the stunning lightweight E-Type Jaguar. For both these famous cars, the Modena Cento Ore oozes symbolism and history. Just eight days after the event finishes in Modena on June 11th, it will be the fiftieth anniversary of the GT40’s maiden win in the Le Mans 24 hour race in France. History recalls that the GT40 was conceived by Henry Ford II after his negotiation with iL Commendatore Enzo Ferrari to take a majority stake in the eponymous sports car manufacturer were called off at the the final moment when Ferrari would not agree to concede control of his beloved racing team. Henry got mad and vowed to hit Ferrari where it hurt-on the race track, and thus the GT40 was born with the express intention of beating Ferrari at Le Mans. After a couple of years of notable failures-when Ferrari continued their winning ways- the GT40 started an unprecedented run of victories in 1966. It would be a fitting way to kick off the fiftieth anniverasry celebrations with a GT40 rolling into Modena on Saturday night.


Enzo Ferrari described the E Type Jaguar as ‘the most beautiful car ever made’ when it was launched in 1960.  Former motorcycle racer Chris and 1983 Safari Rally challenger Keith will be ensuring that this British icon gets plenty of exposure in the supposed home of European style. After a promising run on the Tour Auto last year, Keith, a competitive cyclist when his busy work schedule allows, and Chris have an excellent chance of victory, provided Chris doesn’t visit the first gravel trap as he did in France last year and they will also hope to be avoiding the near asphyxiation they suffered from a  broken exhaust.


Before the start, Tim is displaying the realism that befits his role as a beleaguered ship owner when it comes to assessing the GT40’s chances: “A solid, reliable, trouble free run is all I ask for. I have spent around fifteen days in this car over the past few years and I think there were only three when we didn’t have some sort of problem.” The car has been totally rebuilt, hopefully clearing the brake problems which saw it retire from the lead at the Goodwood Members Meeting in March, as a result of which Richard is adopting a much more bullish and optimistic stance, as befits a shipbroker and someone who has perhaps read too much Winston Churchill and Boris Johnston: “You ask what is our aim ? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terrors, victory however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, there is nothing.”


Taking those words to heart, Keith has already decided to play it safe and settle for second: “In view of the stated aims of our illustrious leader, we will aim for second place and become the Buzz Aldrins of the Cento Ore!”


The event starts on Wednesday 8th June and amongst the host of ultra competitive crews are former winners and Macau Grand Prix legends Mark Freeman and Mike Ellis in their potent AC Cobra, whilst plenty of other Porsches, Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston Martins will be looking to ensure that the lone GT40 on the entry list has plenty of competition.


Both cars will again be looked after by Sam and Darren, the team from Wren Sport, (Wren Sport is a division of Wren Classic Sports Car Restoration Maintenance, and Race Car Preparation).  Without the additional assistance on this event of Dave “Rambo” Ramsbotham and Steve “Cool” Farthing, the team look forward to a service crew who are not just aiming to be at the lunch stop first and will therefore also have time to look after the cars on this grueling event.




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Blyton Park Lola T332 Test 20.04.16

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Tour Auto 2015

The eve of the 2015 Tour Auto involves one day of scrutineering in the splendor of the Grand Palais, Paris.  This involves technical checks on all competing cars, crew and equipment.  Cars number 205 and 206 the GT 40 and E-type Jaguar, to be crewed by the dynamic duos of Richard Meins, Tim Huxley and Chris Lillingston-Price, Keith Morris were subjected to forensic style scrutiny by French officials.

Inevitably problems were found which took most of the day to rectify.  Small issues like size of the labels indicating cut off switches, arrows to towing points, serial numbers on identity papers and the correct number of fire extinguishers we should be carrying all took the entire day to resolve.  Only in France could we be kept busy all day but achieve absolutely nothing.  This was a tough day.  With patience running low and tempers fraying, after huge assistance from Keith’s wife Laura, the translator and diplomat, and Steve and the team, everything is now in order and set for tomorrow’s early morning start (5.30am) heading to Magny Cours for our first race and further south to Vichy.  Tomorrow the bureaucracy ends and the competition begins.

The last supper before the start was held at the legendry steakhouse in the seventh Arrondissement, Le Relais L’Entrecote, and unusually for this crew the red wine consumption was kept strictly to the minimum (although a swift night cap on the way back the hotel could not be resisted).

With the formalities behind us the competition can start, but with an arduous road ahead and such a highly competitive field  this is going to be a challenging week.  At least the sun is shining.

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Tour Auto 2015

R and C  Day four of the 2015 Tour Auto dawned in the hope that things would not be as drastic as day 3. Richard and Tim had finally made it into Toulouse at 1.30 am after sharing a romantic evening in the Albi paddock watching the Wren motorsport mechanics changing the G40 gearbox by moonlight.  Keith and Chris meanwhile had enjoyed an evening in Keith’s favourite French city (where he is honourary consul for his services to French aviation) to the extent that Keith was awaiting the GT40 crew when they arrived.  Day four did not involve any races which have so far proved the GT40’s strong point but 2 special stages would give both  crews a chance to climb up the leader board.
The best part of day four which saw the event move from Toulouse to Pau, in the midst of true Basque country, which involved several awesome road sections climbing the mountains of the Pyrenees. After the dramas of several competitors being evicted from the event the previous day, todays road sections provided plenty of chances for the drivers to test the performance of their vehicles without breaking the speed limit and risking joining Mark Freeman in the “maison de chien”.
The 1st special stage of the day again provided plenty of challenges for both crews who came through with respectable times.
The plan was then for the crews to emerge from the special stage still in their helmets and flameproof underwear, to link up with the support crew to enable any service and fuel requirements to be met.  Most teams position their support crews within 3-4 km of the end of the special stage so by the time the GT40 and E-type with their overheating co drivers Tim and Keith had past the 20km mark after the special stage ended we were all getting more than anxious. The support team ended up completing the post race servicing on themselves before the cars.  A call to David Rambo elicited the response “we got lost, but  fortunately we came across the chateaux where lunch is being served”.  Knowing that the support team were ensconced enjoying a leisurely lunch, Keith, Chris, Richard and Tim, covered the remaining 40 km arriving late for lunch in a state of some distress, crash helmets on, flameproof suits still zipped up, sweat poring from their foreheads, after a journey including dicing with a flock of sheep with their cuddly lambs fighting for space on the mountain road, to find a very chilled out support team, sitting in the sunshine, listening to the wrens singing in the trees, recommending the Iberico ham as they made their selection from the extensive dessert menu.
The long run to the final special stage looked as though it would allow plenty of time to be completed without penalties, however, the torturous nature of the roads meant both crews found it difficult to reach the start within the allotted time allowed. Both crews made it there to discover there was a serious delay.  Chris and Keith walked to the start line, which was alongside an old auberge, walking in they asked for a coffee and sat on the seats around a table on the patio overlooking the start line.  Coffee was served but the woman explained that the restaurant was no longer in business, but this was her house, she refused to accept payment for the coffee which made this the best coffee this week.  The stage was later cancelled following a series of serious accidents.  As a result the crews headed to Pau at the end of day 4.
After the drama of the GT40 gearbox change on Thursday night managing to arrive in Pau with both cars broadly in tact meant that the hard working Wren crew were able to get a reasonably early night having completed a full service on both cars for the first time this week. Their early night was more than deserved after Darren and Sam perform an intricate ballet dismantling and then rebuilding the rear end of the GT40 in difficult circumstances, under the moonlight, completing the task at way past midnight.  Meanwhile back in Toulouse Rambo who had set off to rejoin Keith and Chris, to deliver their overnight bags,  had got lost in the car park.
So day four ends with both cars still in the event, this is a first for Richard.  Both the remaining Hong Kong teams are locked in a Titanic battle, car 205 in 39th place and car 206 in 40th.  With a race at Pau Arnos and one more special stage before the run in to Biarritz there is still everything to play for.
This is our penultimate message form the Tour Auto 2015. All of these messages have been a combined effort of the editorial team of Richard, Keith, Chris and Tim, photo of tonight’s editorial meeting held at 1am after another 17 hour day and a pending 6am alarm call.
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Tour Auto 2015

Biarritz finish  The final day of the 2015 Tour Auto dawned wet and overcast in Pau. Whilst the prospect of arriving into Biarritz was tantalising, neither of the two crews of cars 205 and 206 were taking anything for granted .  In all the years Richard, Tim, Chris and Keith have taken part in this event, none has made it to the finish, and the memory of the GT40 suffering engine failure during the last race in 2013 was still fresh in the memory.  The first competitive section of the day was a race at the Pau Arnos circuit, but during the 30km run to the track Chris and Keith in the E type Jaguar found it was only firing in 5 cylinders, instead of six.  We assumed the water had got into the electrics, Sam and Rambo quickly dried them out, but the big cat was still running like a pig.  On arrival at the track we had 15 minutes to take another look.  Replacing the spark plugs which were heavily oiled up, immediately cured the problem.  Running at road legal speed limits all the day previously had fouled up the plugs, at least the E would be on full song for the race.

The track was new to both Chris and Richard, but Chris had completed about 50 laps during the Easter holidays with his kids on the PlayStation, so at least he was well prepared.  The undulations and myriad flowing corners looked as though they would perfectly suit the Macau, Bathurst and Spa legend Ricardo Meinzzerini and his bright red GT40.  With the GT40 second on the grid and the E type 8th, both cars were well set for a good result.  If the E type could beat the GT40 by over 64 seconds then the Jaguar would leap over the Ford in the overall classification, we were fighting for 39th place overall…

As the flag dropped Meinzzerini set off like a scalded cat and set about an epic dice with the Frenchman in the Cobra who had denied Ricardo the victory at Magny Cours earlier in the week.  Aside from a brief moment when the Cobra got ahead, Ricardo led the race throughout, becoming the only driver to achieve two victories in races during the 2015 Tour Auto, a feat Chris had achieved in 2013.  Chris meanwhile with the E type running better than ever, and his track knowledge gained racing Freddie and Edward (on the computer) paid off with an outstanding performance, dicing with the E type of the overall Tour Auto winner and the famous Wilment cobra of Sean Lynn, previous Tour Auto  winners.  At last the E was at its best, brakes working well, engine purring and keeping up with the front runners, Chris now on racing form and at one with the E type, finishing a strong 5th.  The end of the race was a watershed moment as both teams had never made it this far in the past.  There was one final special stage to complete before the run in to Biarritz and after a quick stop for fuel the cars headed towards the final special stage.  Conveniently the organisers had scheduled lunch to be taken in the form of a gourmet picnic which was to be distributed after the final special stage which meant no risk of a Rambo moment, racing ahead for an early lunch.

Arriving at the final stage, Chris reported that the exhaust  on the E was loose, rattling terribly and filing the car with exhaust fumes.  Captain Keith decided to carry on regardless, we were not about to give up almost in sight of the Atlantic ocean.  Unfortunately as the car lined up, it became apparent there had been a very serious accident with one of the organisers course cars and with the stage being occupied by emergency vehicles and helicopters, the stage was cancelled and the crews headed towards Biarritz.  The fumes were filling the E even more now, and so the rear window of the original famous Jaguar registration, CUT7 was removed to help ventilation.  The remainder of the run to Biarritz was uneventful with both cars running in convoy, only splitting up when the GT40 sped past an obvious turn in the route, the navigator dreaming of the forthcoming FCC elections (for which he is running for Treasurer). 

Arrival in Biarritz was an emotional moment for crews and support, particularly for Richard, Chris, Tim and Keith who had never made it this far before.  Arrival was something like the legendary NY ticker tape parade for Neil Armstrong on his return from the Moon, Richard being interviewed on the finish line by a celebrity French TV presenter.  Thus came to an end the 2015 Tour Auto with plenty of highs and lows and “what ifs” but also a huge sense of achievement. 

Many pseudo intellectuals would say that Richard, Chris, Keith and Tim’s adventure is an allegory of life for a man in the 21st century with optimism and enthusiasm followed by disappointment, angst and elation, but ultimately ending back where you started.  We say this is bollocks, we were four middle aged blokes who went off on an adventure and when the combined age of the cars and crew was over 300 years it was inevitable that some things were going to creak a little. What we ended up with was a stack load of great memories, and a really competitive performance from both cars which showed that with just a little bit of luck they would have been right at the sharp end at the finish.

Thanks to Steve, Darren and Sam from Wren Classic Sports Car Restoration Maintenance and Race Car Preparation (Wren Sport is a division of Wren Classic Sports Car Restoration Maintenance, and Race Car Preparation) for keeping the cars rolling (just), to Rambo for providing great amusement and logistic support on what was supposedly his driving holiday, and Michael O’Shea and David Hall in another E type for joining in the spirit and fun of our week.  Thanks to Tim, the author of these reports, Chris for editorial and pictures, Keith for amusing quotes, “Beer and Berocca is not one of the major food groups” and Richard for providing the cars and letting us go out and play with them.  Sorry for the late delivery of our final report, but I fell asleep last night, slumped over the laptop, before I had hit the “send” button.  Thank you all for reading this far and following our adventures to the bitter end.

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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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Tour Auto 2015

Magny Cours e  The longest day.  It’s now 19 hours since our alarms went off this morning as the intrepid crews from Hong Kong  set off on the first day of 2015 Tour Auto, and what a day it’s been.  Leaving the centre of Paris at 6.30 this morning, it was car number 205, the red GT40 that was the first to have problems as navigator Tim had a moment of madness and having thought he’d made a mistake instructed Richard to turn around.  Trying to execute a three point turn in Parisian rush hour traffic, Richard suddenly found he didn’t have reverse gear. Tim had to jump out and push.  The following car, the E-Type of Chris and Keith, couldn’t believe their eyes and thinking the worst, carried on.  Was Richard turning around to go back and pick up something he left behind, had he sneezed and hit the curb or just spun pulling away from the traffic lights?  We hadn’t even reached the official start from a chateaux outside Paris.
On arrival at the official start the GT40 had a flat battery, the alternator having packed up.  Bump starting got them underway, followed swiftly by the E-type, performing faultlessly.  Chris and Keith having an unbelievably smooth run without a single mistake on any of the navigational challenges showing the true talents of this Safari rally veteran navigator.

Suddenly we arrived at the first special stage.  The GT40 with a new battery strapped between Tim’s legs set off first.  Another three point turn half way along the stage and the addition of the door flying open around a corner slowed progress but a respectable time was posted.  Meanwhile Chris was building on his experience of two years ago and ensuring a steady time on this first racing test, just 8 seconds behind the GT40.  A special mention to Hong Kong grandee Mark Freeman in his Cobra who was fastest of all competitors.

With the GT40 needing batteries as often as petrol to keep it going (and it’s not a hybrid), on arrival at Magny Cours for the first circuit race the fully charged battery was duly removed from the E-Type to be swapped with the GT40, at least the Jag would charge it up after a bump start.  The race started with a gaggle of Cobras and one GT40 followed by the E-Type.  Richard worked his way towards the front, leading until the last lap, but then overtaken by the French Cobra of Ludovic Caron, who in 2012 drove into the back of Richard and hence was given a wide birth.  Unfortunately the E-Type fared less well.  Running around in 8th place, the second E-Type, dicing with a very quick Lotus, Chris ran wide on the first turn, a very quick double apex left hander, and lost it in style, spinning into the vast gravel trap at high speed like a performer in strictly come dancing… on ice.  Race over with one lap to go and a large time penalty for his poor performance.  This was a repeat of Richard’s 2012 Tour Auto first race also ending in the gravel.  This time, Richard second, Chris DNF.
Just 100km to the night stop, what could go wrong…  The GT40 suspension arm broke. The car was now as useful as Dell boy’s three wheeler. Sam and Darren jumped on the car and managed to replace the broken bits and after an hour or so the GT40 continued.  Meanwhile the E-Type trip meter was now damaged in the off track excursion and wasn’t working, nothing Tim hadn’t dealt with previously, but a new experience for Keith.
Richard arrived over an hour late and earned substantial time penalties.  Having been running in a solid 3rd overall after two stages this was heartbreaking news.  With the E-Type now in 64th position after the off track experience, the fight back starts tomorrow.
We’ll be keeping you posted.
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