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Le Mans 1990 - The Tourists' Story


I have to say that, particularly following 1989, I have always regarded 1990 as one of my favourite Le Mans, and not just because Jaguar won again (I am a Brit, after all!).  It was just a really good weekend, all round, and the Jaguar victory was the icing on the cake, as far as I was concerned.

There was of course one disappointing aspect to the 1990 race - chicanes!  Balestre and co. at the FISA, in their determined efforts to bring the ACO to heel had decreed that, due to the length of the Mulsanne Straight, it had to be split by two chicanes.  I know they were immediately disliked by a lot of the drivers, and I remember James Weaver describing them as those "poxy chicanes".  At least one driver (Evan Clements, I think it was), vowed that he would never return to Le Mans as a result.  I hoped that they would disappear again in due course, but, here we are, nearly eleven years later, and the two "carbuncles" are still there.

The 1990 Tourists were a very select bunch indeed, as only four of us made the trip that year.  We (they) are shown in the photo below just leaving Portsmouth harbour on the journey to Le Havre.  (Left to right, Ian, Martin and Alan).  I was a happy chappie, anyway, as my wife Jayne had presented me with a son, James, only six months or so before (and yes, I still made it to Le Mans!).


We made our journey to France in the late morning of the Friday, and stayed in Le Havre that night.  The weather was grand as we made our way to the circuit on Saturday morning, and, in addition to picking up some grandstand tickets at the ferry terminal (do they still sell them at the terminals from time to time?), we also ended up with a garage rouge reservé ticket - exclusive parking in numbered bays!

After grabbing an excellent spot to watch the driver parade from the tribunes, we moved down to the Esses, where I took the next shot of one of the Jaguars.  The early laps were pretty exciting with Nissan putting up a tremendous show (until Gianfranco Brancatelli in the leading Nissan tangled with Aguri Suzuki's Toyota).  


When the Nissan challenge finally wilted, the Jaguars were pretty much out on their own, although the Brun, Pareja and Larrauri Repsol Porsche put up a strong challenge right up until the last 15 minutes of the race.

For a number of years, I had hankered after taking some night shots at Le Mans, and I finally invested in a tripod for the purpose.  To be honest, my first efforts were far from brilliant, as I just didn't appreciate the limitations of the camera I was using.  (Actually, it wasn't the camera's fault, it was my lack of knowledge).  I took the shot below from the Dunlop Grandstand.  It was a start, anyway.


So, another successful year for Jaguar, with a 1-2 finish.  On Sunday morning, we managed to get up onto the old pit balcony for the first time, and the last as well, as they would be bulldozed and replaced by a new pits complex for the 1991 race.  I was very pleased that I finally managed to get up there before they disappeared for good.


I now had five consecutive Le Mans under my belt and the addiction was undoubtedly growing stronger every year.