Claret and Classics 2000

Colin and Susan Mills
Geneva (Luins) , Switzerland
1 – 7 July 2000

Day 4, Tuesday, July 4, 2000
Angoulême - Chateauroux

Tuesday was a better day for us. When we went wrong at all, we were able to get back on track fairly quickly. We scored a total of 77 penalty points on the day, being 20 seconds either early or late at the first control, 33 seconds out at the next and 24 seconds out at the third. Essentially, we thought we had done brilliantly if we arrived at a time control at anything under a minute adrift. Seventh position on the day was good enough to defeat our opponent in the knockout competition again and proceed to Wednesday's round. The full day's results were posted in our hotel lobby at Châteauroux.

I must say that all the hotels chosen for the event werethree-star, and boasted excellent restaurants. The Novotel in La Rochelle, and the Mercure in Angoulême, Châteauroux, Bourges, and Beaune. However, the group was divided into two hotels in both Bourges and Beaune because, being the start of the French school holidays, Roger Deeley had been unable to secure sufficient space for us all at either one. Each of the hotels boasted either a secure outside car park or an integral garage for guests.

It was at Châteauroux that we lost two competitors. Last year's winners (MG TF) went home because of an ailing navigator, and the American couple, driving a TR3a rented in the UK, decided to do their own thing. Rumour has it that the wife (and navigator) complained of hotels without air conditioning (there was only one), and a desire to see something other than the cornfields of France (day three took us into more picturesque countryside).

Day 5, Wednesday, July 5, 2000
Chateauroux - Bourges

Start of day five – MGA and XK 150 being inspected by the organiser, Roger Deeley Monday morning, day five dawned cloudy, as usual (we only experienced one short rain shower during the whole week) and, after the usual continental breakfast, headed out for the timed start at an industrial zone outside the town.

Wednesday wasn't such a good day for us. There were four stages, and we scored a maximum on the second and fourth. Having said that, we were delighted to be only 17 seconds off target at the end of the first stage (being some 54 minutes long), and 19 seconds out on the third stage. Our total score for the day was 636 – regrettably a lot more than our opponents in the knockout. So out we went.

MGA, MG TF, Bentley, Healey, Morgan, Sprite (undergoing major surgery) and Austin Healey at the Mercure Bourbon Hotel in Bourges.

The Mercure Bourbon Hotel in Bourges is (I think) mostly a converted monastery, the balance being modern but constructed to incorporate the ruins of part of the original building. Anyway, it was certainly impressive, and we attracted the interest of the local press who published an article in the following day's newspaper.

On our way to the timed start on Thursday morning, we came upon the Bentley, stopped forlornly in the middle of the road, with driver and navigator looking rather upset. We parked and helped push the car to the side, where we were advised that it had a broken half-shaft. Not being the average sort of spare part you bring along, the Bentley was forced to drop out of the rally and was shipped back to the UK for subsequent repair. The crew, however, was to rejoin the rally the following day in a rented Renault Clio!

Also at start of day five, 1960 Mini (with 1275 Cooper S engine and questionable colour scheme), alongside Tiger, nudging its navigator for attention.

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