Tour de force

You can go gently or you can go for it; either way a five-day bash from Paris to Marseilles is a tough test for a classic car
By Johnny Tipler

The 17th Tour Auto Lissac in mid-April involved 220 classics which travelled from Paris to Marseilles over five days. First port of call was Fontainbleu, with a stage round a Chablis vineyard. The Cobras of Shaun Lynn/Kevin Kivlochan and Mark Freeman/Bobby Bell showed early form, with Michel Billon-Rey and Jean-Luc Pennilard’s 911 in hot pursuit. Around Dijon’s old GP circuit Ludovic Caron/Hugo Payen’s Cobra logged fastest time ahead of Frank Sytner/Simon Hadfield’s similar car and Jerome and Jean-Claude Miloe’s 904 GTS, moving it up to second in the VHC (performance) category. Meanwhile three-time Regularity winners Bob and Anne Linwood showed their prowess in a 911 RS.

Burgundy’s Cote d’Or plateau provided a frosty start on day two, with Gerard Larrousse out front, running a Scaglietti-bodied Ferrari 612 rather than the usual Alpine. On the fast 6km stage at Beuvray, Elizabeth and Frédéric Puren in their Jaguar E-type powered ahead of the Miloe Porsche and Caron’s Cobra in VHC. Lynn got back on top of VHC at Magny-Cours before the overnight stop at Vichy.

Brute power told again at the dramatic Charade circuit at Clermont-Ferrand, with the Cobras invincible on the gradients. A wet 9km stage at Sarrin was dominated by Nicolas Armengol/Phillipe Giaque’s Mustang, with Claude Boissy/Bruno Coulombes’ Cooper S providing a miniature counterpoint.

Stage four from Brive to Avignon included a scattering of snow on the Aubrac plateau and heavy rain before Avignon, making for uncertain grip. But the convoy of OSCA barchettas running in Regularity remained steadfast.

The next day’s stage at Mont Ventoux was cancelled due to icy roads, so the entourage leapt to the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet. The outcome proved crucial to the overall result as Lynn’s Cobra engine gave up, to the benefit of Caron who took VHC honours. Second overall was the Miloe Porsche followed by the Michel Wanty/Jean-Pierre van de Wauwer Lotus Eleven and the Puren E-type. Stirling and Susie Moss came 34th overall in their MGB.

The first cars arrived in mid-afternoon sunshine at Marseilles’ crowded Borley Park, where the Linwoods claimed the Regularity prize. That discipline was clearly a Porsche speciality, as the 904 GTS of Bernard Haquette/Christian Vanlanduyt came second and the John Ruston/Jeremy Haylock 356 third. John Logan/Fred Hampton’s Porsche 356 took the index of performance award, with Jean Sage/Christine Cathiard second in their Alfa Romeo 1900 and the Boissy/Colombes’ Cooper S third.

Three of the Porsches were prepared by Maxted-Page and Prill; co-driving Charlie Remnant’s 2.7 RS to sixth in the GHI class H category, Andy Prill said: “It was an excellent event, though the weather was against us for a couple of days and we never recovered the time lost with the route change after the Mont Ventoux stage was cancelled. Charade is a fabulous circuit, like no other, and after Classic Le Mans, Tour Auto brings out the greatest cross-section of cars of any event, plus it’s run to a very high standard.”