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Tour Auto revised

The organisers of the Tour Auto have pledged to take the event back to its roots in 2005 by introducing measures aimed at making it more relaxed.

The entry selection committee will give priority to the oldest and rarest cars, while any competitor inflicting damage to another car will incur time penalties. Meanwhile, owners paired with ace drivers will be obliged to drive for at least 40 per cent of the timed stages.

A spokesperson for the event said: "The initial concept has slightly faded away and so some simple changes have been made."

The 200 cars of the type that competed in the Tour de France from 1951 to '73 will tackle timed road stages and races at Magny-Cours, Charade, Nogaro and, for the first time. Pau Amos.

The Tour will start from Paris on April 26 and finish in Biarritz five days later.


Chaparral return

The only Chaparral known to reside outside the USA ran at Shelsley Walsh in August when Mark Linstone took Richard Falconer's Mk1 back to the hill for the first time in 40 years.

Only seen at the Festival of Speed In recent times, the car is chassis 005 and was owned when new by Phil Scragg, who hillclimbed it in 1963.

Jim Hall built five Mk1s in period in a bid to rival the Cooper Monacos. It later became the Canonball Special and was used in grasstrack events before marque expert Falconer acquired its remains in 1974 and restored it to original trim.


Locals silence show

Noise issues continue to block attempts to create a major historic meeting at the Zandvoort circuit in Holland.

The planned September event was abandoned after a group of local residents brought a court action to block an increase in the number of unsilenced days available at the seaside track.

The September 25-26 event had been planned to include top historic series. including Group C. Grand Prix Masters and HGPCA events. The event organisers are still working to make the meeting happen, but the recent court ruling is a major blow to their plans.

The Dutch track hosted grands prix from 1952 to '85 after opening in '48.


Composite safety called into question

The use of 'historic' carbonfibre-based cars came under the spotlight when a Corse Clienti Ferrari F1 broke up in an accident at the Laguna Seca meet in August. The front of the 1999 machine snapped clean off, but its driver miraculously escaped unharmed.

The F399 has been sent to Ferrari for analysis.

"Composites are very durable, but the big problem is that damage is not always visible," said Andy Smith, technical manager at B3 Technologies, the company headed by carbonfibre pioneer John Barnard. "If composites fail, it can be a catastrophic failure as they tend to shatter.

"There are ways of testing them, as the aerospace industry does. If a car has been in a shunt, you have to check everything very carefully."


Law goes single seat

Jaguar ace Justin Law made his single-seater debut at Donington Park in the GP Masters event driving Nick Rini's ex-Peter Gethin Yardley BRM P160. Law tested the car beforehand, and was pleased to finish sixth in the first race.

"I really enjoyed it, but found it hard to get my head around the amount of movement in the tyre sidewalls. It's more aggressive than Group C. too. and I was so uncomfortable," he explained.

Despite all those problems, he improved to fifth in the second race.


F2 back to Fredy

Organisation of the Jochen Rindt Historic F2 series will revert to Swiss racer Fredy Kumschick for 2005. after being run by David McLaughlin in recent times.

"I'm pleased it's going back to Fredy." said McLaughlin. "I've always considered it was his series in the first place. I think the momentum will continue."

The championship for 1600cc cars of the late 1960s and early '70s will have an extra race at Dijon in late September, the first event under Kumschick.


Hill records fall

A host of Shelsley Walsh bests were broken during the August meeting, including the outright record, which fell below the 24sec mark when Adam Fleetwood's Gould GR55 set the new standard at 23.87sec.

Meanwhile, Sue Young (Dallara) lowered her own ladies' record to 26.98sec and Peter Voigt set a new pre-1972 mark of 29.25sec in the ex-Roy Lane Techcraft. Nic Mann's ingenious Mannic beat the oldest standing record when it sliced half a second from Martin Bolsover's 20-year-old sports-libre time.


Rob's 49 at Shelsley

Geoff Farmer gave his ex-Jo Siffert Lotus 49B its only competitive outing of the year at Shelsley Walsh in August. Despite battling with understeer. he ran a 31sec climb in what was believed to be the first appearance of a 49 at the famous hill.

"It felt like the barriers were too close." said Farmer.

It was the car's first public appearance since Goodwood in 2002. but Farmer is keen to use it again next season.

The former Rob Walker car, R7 won the 1968 British GP in Siffert's hands and contested 29 F1 races.


Blomqvist warms up

Stig Blomqvist will rally in Britain twice in October as part of his build-up to the Roger Albert Clark Rally in November. The 1984 world champion will drive a Ford Escort Mk2 prepared by David Sutton's Historic Motorsport on the event, competing directly against Hannu Mikkola in a similar car.

As an RAC warm-up, Blomqvist will drive the car in the final two rounds of the HRCR Classic Stage Rally Challenge in October. in Yorkshire and Wales.

The 58-year-old former winner of the RAC in the 1970s and '80s will be co-driven by Ana Goni.