Friday June 17 dawned as have all the other days so far for Le Mans 2016 – damp, overcast with the threat of rain and soggy underfoot.
The previous night’s second qualifying session was red-flagged for an hour due to the poor weather conditions and teams, drivers and spectators alike are all massively frustrated at the lack of dry running that we have seen this week.
As there was no track action on the Friday before the race weekend, the EnduranceAndGT team took some time first thing re-arranging the Mont-Bizot Data Centre before venturing off to the ‘Virage de Mulsanne’ event which takes place at the world-famous Mulsanne Corner. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Fifty Years of Ford’ and, parked on the apex of the Mulsanne Corner were a number of beautiful examples of Ford machinery. These varied from some immaculate Ford GT40 replicas to more contemporary Ford GTs along with some interesting Capri and Taunus examples.
What made the event even more interesting was that the track was closed to vehicles from Mulsanne Corner towards Indianapolis, allowing the visitor to walk unimpeded along the circuit towards the Rolex signage over the track.
If you did not visit the Mulsanne event this year, I would strongly recommend it for future years as it made for a fascinating trip.
We then drove back down the Mulsanne Straight (yes, I know it has two chicanes) and back past Le Mans to get back to our camp-site just before another thunderstorm struck and the heavens opened. We sat it out and finally jumped in the car to get back to Le Mans for the ‘Grands Parades des Pilotes’.
Thankfully the rain stayed away and we found ourselves an excellent viewing spot next to the start of the Parade where EnduranceAndGT photographer, Roger Jenkins, could capture some great images of the festivities.
First through while we were there were the Porsche LMP1 drivers who seemed to be having fun even though they must be ‘champing at the bit’ to get racing by this stage of the week. Pictured below are the Porsche LM GTE drivers.
But that is it. Practise, qualifying, media events and parades are over. The real reason why we are all here begins in earnest on Saturday June 18. The weather forecast suggests that clearer, dryer weather should start to move in as the weekend progresses but Saturday could see some very mixed conditions as the build-up to 15:00 approaches.
We shall be at the circuit from 08:00 to observe the final warm-ups, the support races and finally the flag dropping on the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 15:00. This is where it gets really interesting….