The 2008 Le Mans story started much the same
as always back in February when Chief Tourist Ian and I started to discuss the
arrangements. This was a special year for him as it was the 40th anniversary of
his first Le Mans in 1968. This was my 23rd Le Mans, and after what
had turned out to be a pretty difficult last 10 months work (with more to come),
I was really looking forward to it.
As if to celebrate the occasion we had our
largest ever collection of tourists this year, 15 of us making the pilgrimage to
Le Mans. The usual "core" remained, with Ian, Martyn, Alan and myself joined by
Jeff, Nick and John and returning to Le Mans having dried out after the 2007
deluge, were Jeremy and Brian. Others returning after "gap" years were Peter
(2002) and Clive (1999). There were three Le Mans newbies in 2008, Will
(Clive's son), Duncan (Peter's nephew) and Mark, who worked with a number of the
others. The 15th Tourist this year was my fellow Ten-Tenths member Allon. The
one obvious omission from the roster of 2008 was Ian's son Robert, unable to
come to the race this year due to a new job working in Australia!
But my Le Mans trip so nearly started with
disaster. As is my way these days, I had some time off before the trip and
dutifully prepared my camera gear, cleaning lenses, charging batteries etc.
With all that out of the way I thought no more of it. But I found I needed to
use the camera one last time on Tuesday morning and was surprised to get an
"error 99" on my EOS 10D. I thought little of it but my surprise soon turned to
panic when changing lens, then battery, then CF card failed to cure it. I tried
absolutely everything, all of the suggested remedies I found on the Internet,
even updating the firmware, but nothing worked. With my trip due to start in
two days, I was in real difficulty. Although I could borrow a camera, I didn't
really want to. In the end, the following day, I drove into Southampton and
managed to find a replacement. Even luckier, I managed to get £50 off the
price. So I was sorted, phew! But if I hadn't taken the camera out for that
one photo on Tuesday morning....
Allon, who had first gone to Le Mans in 1999
and normally went with Ten-Tenths founder Craig, drove down to meet me on Friday
afternoon and we then drove to Southampton for our rendezvous, moving on to a
local pub for a meal before we set off as we weren't departing from Portsmouth
until 11.45. After a good meal we returned to Ian's to load up the cars and set
off for Portsmouth. Alan and I joined Mark in John's Range Rover. The other
vehicles travelling in convoy this year were last year’s three BMWs driven by
Ian, Martyn and Nick plus Jeremy's Aston Martin DB9!
The run to the ferry was uneventful, as was
crossing, and after being woken by some very loud and persistent opera (!) at 5
a.m., we were soon off the boat at Caen heading towards the Pegasus Bridge at
Benouville where Madame Gondrée served us excellent coffee and croissants for
A great way to start another Le Mans weekend!