Saturday, January 26, 2013

THIRD RALLY SAUMUR LÉGENDE



December 1st & 2nd, the third iteration of the René Jouan Trophy took place. Taking place in Saumur, which is well known for its Tank Museum and numerous sparkling wines, the last round of the trophy gathered 45 cars. This is a regularity rally, were vintage cars, driven on open roads, must join the finish line after a tricky navigation challenge, but while trying to arrive at a predetermined time. Being late can set you several places in the ranking, but being early is even worse, at it can throw at the bottom of the ranking for a matter of minutes.
Not only it was my first time covering this genre of race, but I was also doing from the inside, as I was riding on the navigator seat in one of the three Miata participating.





Saturday morning. while the various entrants have to pass the technical inspection (which was mostly limited to having working headlights and a street registration), some non-participants gathered near the start of the race. Aren't Volvo P1800 wonderful ?



It's a shame that these Simca 1501 are becoming more and more rare on our roads.



Now this is just sad that these two didn't took part in the event. I would have loved to hear that TVR roaring in the distance.



Perhaps the rarest car of the week-end: a Deutsch-Bonnet Le Mans. Built to celebrate the victories of the DB Team at the infamous 24 hours race, this fiber-glass body was covering a twin-cylinders boxers engine. With around 200 produced, few remain intact to preserve this racing heritage.



I'm still sad that this Renault 5 Turbo didn't participate.



Let's have a look at the participants now. This Renault Alpine Turbo was mimicking the classic Calberson livery. Sadly, she couldn't even join the starting line, as the motor blew up right after the inspection.



Being the French rally queen in the 60s and 70s, it was normal that three Alpine A100 were present. This iconic blue one was unexpectedly clean for a race car.



Porsches 911 were also present en masse., either with slight modifications, like a pair of long-range headlights ...



... or completely devoted to racing, like this wide-bodied Carrera. Those extreme lighting equipment will be proven very useful for the night specials, as the road was sometimes extremely narrow.



One of the favorites was this uncommon Renault 12 Gordini. Renault 8 Gordini are pretty common on historic rally stages, but its successor is way much underrepresented.



The 80s spawned the most awesome racing series to have ever existed: the Group B.
 One of the most famous car of the era was the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16, so when I heard that one of the 200 road-going version produced was participating, I couldn't hide my joy to my pilot. These cars are usually painted in dark gray scheme. This one was painted pearl-pink, and operated by an all-female team, also entering a Peugeot 404 Convertible.



One good thing was, they were running just ahead of us, so we could appreciate  the show as much as we wanted.



A Citroën Visa isn't exactly a prestigious car, it was even rather lame. But this, is the 627th out of 1000 Visa Chrono produced. Just like the road-going 205T16, it was an homologation special, and few remain in good shape. A clean example could set you back for around 8 to 10.000€.



I don't even know how this Mustang managed to get through the narrow roads of Saumur's back-country.



I have a thing for four-spokes wheels ...



A Lancia Delta Integrale was of course present.



A few people was actually watching the road from the side of the road, but some photographers were present, shooting everything in side. It's pretty strange to be on the other side of the camera for once,.



Each stage was punctuated with a meal in one of the numerous caves around Saumur. A good occasion to chat with the other teams, with a relaxed atmosphere.



Everyone gathered around this 911 Carrera RSR at the podium ceremony. Alas, it was a mere replica of the famous duck-winged 911.




The whole Team Mazda present this week-end. Our 3 Miatas finished at the last three positions of our group, but hey, we did it for the fun, giving little attention to the whole "regularity" thing. We even got a nice bottle home, along with a collection of baseball caps. And we had a lot of fun. It's all that matters.

I obviously couldn't take any pic while reading the roadbook,  but we had a GoPro camera attached to the car. You can watch 3:30 of raw footage on my Youtube channel here, or you can wait until I figure out how to use a video edition software and upload a highlight of the best moments.