24 Hours of Le Mans

Notebook From Le Mans – Tuesday – June 14

The day dawned clear and bright after another night of torrential rain, at least where the www.EnduranceAndGT.co.uk team were camped.

The first port of call for the day was the circuit as Tuesday morning of race week is a good time to catch drivers walking between garage and hospitality units. With the disruption that scrutineering brings and teams having to transport cars to and from the Place de la République, Tuesday is a good opportunity to refocus with the car securely parked in the garage. With the first track running on Wednesday, teams are now focused on final preparations for the cars and drivers are now relaxing, exercising, eating and hydrating with the sole objective of being prepared for when track running starts on June 15.

By the main entrance to the paddock, photographers and autograph-hunters gathered and drivers and key team personnel seemed very happy to pose for pictures and sign programmes and photos.

Andy Priaulx (#67) In Conversation With Roberto Merhi (#44).
Andy Priaulx (#67) In Conversation With Roberto Merhi (#44). (Photo: Roger Jenkins)
Romain Dumas (#2) Talking To Fans. (Photo: Roger Jenkins)
Romain Dumas (#2) Talking To Fans. (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Walking through the paddock village, final details were being added to hospitality units in readiness to receive guests on Wednesday.

The main objective for the day was to be at the main entrance to the pit lane at 17:00 when the driver signing session began. As a result, after spending the morning at the circuit, we went into the centre of Le Mans and took in the sights of the old Plantagenet part of the town before enjoying lunch at the Le Mans Légend Café.

By this stage the weather was looking threatening and as we walked back to the car, rain started falling.

Arriving at the circuit at around 16:00 we drove around the public rounds of the circuit: down the Mulsanne straight, past the first and second chicances, turning right at Mulsanne corner and then down to Indianapolis. As we drove down towards Mulsanne, we spotted Simon Dolan, driver of the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S out for an afternoon run. Bearing in mind the rain was falling heavily, we stopped to see if he wanted a lift back to his hotel but clearly his determination to finish his planned exercise routine overcame the desire to get out of the rain and he continued.

We drove along the new public roads through Indianapolis and Arnage and felt slightly wistful to see one of our favourite viewing spots changed so dramatically. It will be interesting to see how the new layout works for spectators.

There was a slight delay in opening the gates for the pit lane walkabout as heavy rain was falling again. Teams were working fast to get their drivers under cover in the garage entrances. However at 17:05 the gates were opened and the public flocked in their hundreds to see the cars and drivers.

Torrential rain then fell again ten minutes into the walkabout but that didn’t deter fans from forming long queues at the garages of the leading teams for signed driver cards and pictures.

#57 Ford GT Driver Line-Up - Marino Franchitti (L), Harry Tincknell (C) and Andy Priaulx (R)
#57 Ford GT Driver Line-Up – Marino Franchitti (L), Harry Tincknell (C) and Andy Priaulx (R) (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

Walking back along the pit lane I bumped into Shea Adam from the Mobil 1 Radio Le Mans team. After having chatted with Eve Hewitt and John Hindhaugh yesterday, it was great to say “hi” and wish Shea well for a great race.

Mark Webber Looking Relaxed At Driver Signing (Photo: Roger Jenkins)
Mark Webber Looking Relaxed At Driver Signing (Photo: Roger Jenkins)

The weather forecast for the rest of the week looks very mixed so the pattern of dry spells punctuated with heavy showers seems set to continue. This will make for challenging conditions as the social part of the week draws to a close and the serious business of qualifying and racing begins.

Practise starts for the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 16:00 on Wednesday June 15 and the first qualifying session, which runs for two hours, starts at 22:00. www.EnduranceAndGT.co.uk will be trackside for the whole day, providing reports and updates.

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