The Paris: Biarritz crews woke up to a beautiful red sky this morning, alerting us that it was going to be another scorcher of a day.
First on the agenda, after a hearty breakfast overlooking the golf course, was a regularity through traditional local villages, passing through farmyards, fields and the stunning viaduct.
If the regularity didn’t wake up the crews than the next tests certainly did. Set in the grounds of a beautiful Chateau, Circuit de Mornay is a prestigious racetrack – evident from the collection of single seaters tucked away in the garages.
Opened in 1997 on the initiative of Pierre Petit, the Circuit, near Guéret evolves in the middle of a park of 40 hectares, in a green and hilly environment. Split into two short sharp tests full of bends and curves, both were on the stopwatch so both driver and navigator were under pressure.
First out was Steve and Ruth Lambert in the MGB, who stuck to the racing line to complete the first run in good time, with the rest of the field following behind them.
Not everyone had it easy – Car 2, the Bentley of Stephen and John Ward managed to overshoot the ‘stop go’ box and the finish line on the first test, while Car 16, Tristan Beard and Sophia Lingham lightened their load by losing a hub cap off their Mini. One of the marshals did suggest they could hold it in place being so near to the ground.
Once times had been set, it was back onto the road to enjoy more of the region’s countryside and head to Monismes for the next regularity before lunch.
Hidden behind a huge stone wall was a dirt road nestled through a forest. The end of the dirt road opened up onto a beautiful lake with Chateau de Ribagnac just across the water. It was like something out of a fairytale story book and crews stopped to get pictures as they drove towards it.
A sumptuous lunch of fresh salmon, charcuterie meats, chicken and quiche served with a range of delicious salads was on offer. Various fruit tarts and fresh fruit followed. And it was so good, most went up for a second plate.
After pictures at the Chateau, it was back on the road to kick off this afternoon’s competition.
The regularity started and cars started to filter through the first section when the following media/medical car came across six of the crews in a jam on the road. The local village Mayor had taken umbrage with the cars driving through his domain and decided to stop them. Within a few minutes, he let the group pass only to stop the next group – only this time for two hours.
The Mayor positioned himself at one end of the queue of cars and his car and deputy at the other. Despite having all the correct permissions, he was adamant no crew shall pass. A visit by the local gendarmes and several phone calls later, along with help from local British ex-pats Paul and Angela, the Mayor moved his car on the condition we went back the way we came to the main road.
By this time, the disruption had affected all the afternoon’s timings and competition, so everyone headed to the night halt in Clermont Ferrand for a cold beer and to share their stories of the day. There was also a quiz with teams playing for ‘The Mayor’s Cup’ in his honour.
Missing from today was car 17, Michel Fiechtinger and Sebastian Haberl, which has retired after a problem with its specialist tyres.
Car 30, the MGB GT of Alex Bissett-Powell and Richard Baguley also needed mechanical assistance. After damaging the wheel bearings yesterday, they had further issues today but managed to make it to the hotel with the help of the sweep crews.
Tomorrow is the halfway point and with the leaders changing already, it is all to play for. Barry and Roma Weir lead the classics now, with Linda Tucker and Sarah Jennings in second and Steve and Ruth Lambert in third.