5th Tour de España - November 2003
This year’s Tour de España was a run through the heart of Andalusia with five stops - including Jerez, Seville, Cordoba and Malaga. Set in the shade of the Gibraltar rock, and dotted with typical alpine villages, the landscapes were splendidly varied.
THE ROUTE: IDEAL FOR THE EXPERT DRIVERS
Regarding the route for 2003, the twelve road stages were winding, like Grazelema, or slightly slippery as along the 18 kms "super-special" on the Seville/Cordoba leg. But all of them provided the most perfect scenery for the drivers. As for the circuits, the prologue and a night session were run on the former F1 circuit of Jerez and the third race session christened the brand new Ascari circuit at Ronda, a unique technical and winding track, complete with all possible facilities - again in the most beautiful setting.
THE COMPETITION: AS INTERESTING AS EVER
Former Tour de España winner Ray Bellm was all set for a second victory and started well by winning the prologue. Unfortunately the car’s engine gave up at the start of the second leg. John Bosch was then at the top of the leader board, giving a first-class performance every day. But nothing is final in motor racing and a mistake during the final special stage took him right down to the bottom of the overall classification.
In the ‘G/H/I’ class, the winner was Frenchman F. Godeberge, very well supported by works driver P.Bornhauser in a Ferrari 308 Gr IV. Team Entremont (another Gr IV Ferrari 308) also aimed high and after a fantastic start at the Ascari circuit never looked back to their eventual second place finish.
As for the ‘Competition’ section, 2003 French Tour Auto 2003 winner Chris Chiles fully intended to conquer the Spanish version and eventually succeeded, heading the Shelby Mustang GT350 of Hans Hugenholtz.
In addition to these six protagonists others, such as Nick Faure, were performing in great style. The vastly experienced driver did not disappoint his many fans with some very close racing on road and track. In Renault-Alpines, professional drivers Bruno Saby (WRC) and Eric Comas (F1) impressed on the road stages. Unfortunately both of them disappeared before the finish, Saby as he learnt of his recruitment to the works Volkswagen driver line-up for the Paris-Dakar, and Comas with engine problems.
Consistency, by definition, in the ‘Regularity’ section is essential. If, during the two first legs, there were five possible winners the situation was resolved on the third day. The “Iberian" teams of Pinto Antunes (P), Porsche 911S, K.Bohrer (E), Porsche 911 and L.Izquierdo (E), Mini-Cooper S finished the event in that order.
Final Classification Competition Section:
|1||CHILES (GB) / MOUNTFORD (GB)||FORD GT 40|
|2||HUGENHOLTZ (NL) / HUGENHOLTZ (F)||SHELBY MUSTANG GT 350|
|3||HART (B) / SINCLAIR(GB)||ELAN 26 R GT|
|1||GODEBERGE (F) / BORNHAUSER (F)||FERRARI 308 Gr IV.|
|2||ENTREMONT (F) / ENTREMONT (F)||FERRARI 308 GTB Gr IV.|
|3||MARTIN (B) / CHAUMONT (B)||PORSCHE RS 2,7l|
|1||PINTO ANTUNES (P) / SEGARA MARQUES (P)||PORSCHE 911 S 2,4l|
|2||BORHER (E) / RUIZ GIMENEZ (E)||PORSCHE 911 S|
|3||IZQUIERDO (E) / DEL RIO (E)||AUSTIN COOPER S|
Text: Peter Auto. Photo: H. Schnug