#5 Fri. April 24
The penultimate day will also be a piece of choice. No circuit, but two selective special stages on closed roads. After being timed first in the morning, the competitors will enjoy a lunch held at the Abbaye de l’Escaladieu (The Escaladieu - Scala Dei in Latin - meaning "scale of God"). Founded around 1140 at the confluence of the Arros and Luz, the Abbey is at the foot of the Château de Mauvezin, in a wooded valley near the two spas: Capvern and Bagneres de Bigorre. The magic of the site and the purity of the architecture are an invitation to serenity and travel. Once passed this French heritage’s site, the cars will start for the second stage of the day before joining Pau.
- Parc Fermé open to the public on presentation of the official programme (10 euros at the entrance)
The Tour Auto Optic 2ooo left Toulouse and headed off to the Pyrenees. Almost immediately the drivers feasted their eyes on a magnificent view of the mountains thanks to clear skies like those enjoyed by the 24th
event since it left the Grand Palais in Paris. The day’s leg (the fourth and second last of the 2015 Tour Auto Optic 2ooo), included the crossing of three passes one of which was ‘Hors-Categorie.’ It was enough to delight hill climbers and those who love pounding up twisty roads, and it gave the event a touch of the Tour de France for Bicycles.
The current leaders in the overall classification, Jean-Pierre Lajournade-Christophe Bouchet in their E-Type Jaguar, made a great start to the day and eked out up the gap a little more over their nearest rival, the AC Cobra driven by Ludovic Caron-Charles Villaucourt, by winning the morning stage, the Col des Ares, from Alexander Furiani-Maximilian Werner in their Alfa Romeo GTA, which was able to take the fight to much more powerful machines on this type of road. In Group G Arnaud Gaudel-Alexandre Delaye (BMW 2800 CS) scored another victory. In Group H Belgian pairing Christophe van Riet-Kristoffer Cartenian (Porsche 911 3.0) shone. The Index of Performance went to Frédéric Puren-Caroline Bertrand (Porsche 356 Pre A).
After lunch in the Escaladieu Abbey dating from the XIIth
century the drivers set off for the second timed stage of the day: Haut de Bosdarros. They were faced with a tough challenge on a narrow, twisty, bumpy road, but only the crews in the regularity section covered the stage. Because of an incident on the marshals’ radio network it was impossible to ensure the safety of the cars in the racing category so race control decided to cancel the event for this group. Thus, the latter went straight on to the parc fermé at the end of the liaison section.
In the regularity section two teams from Argentina stood out: Alejandro Oxenford-Jose Luis Celada (Ferrari 275 GTB) in the first stage and Bruno Franco Ricci-Gustavo Gallo (Austin Cooper S 1300) in the second.
Tomorrow, the drivers will tackle the fifth and last stage, over 212 km, which will begin on the Pau Arnos circuit. Then the field will head for the last special stage of the 2015 event after which they will set off for the finish in the brand-new Cité de l’Océan in Biarritz.