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Le Mans 2009 - The Tourists' Story - Page 3

Speedy Racing Team Sebah


Those who read my 2008 story will know that last year we had a visit laid on to the Embassy Racing pit. When I say 'we' I mean the members of the Le Mans sub-forum at Ten Tenths, where I moderate – occasionally! Well this year, James, aka Bentley03, who organised that trip had surpassed himself by arranging two trips to the Speedy Racing Team Sebah garages, 13 and 33. These were at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and I was lucky enough to have a place on the first of these.  I broke off from my pit wandering to exchange messages with James from which I established he was very close by and I made my rendezvous with him as he entered the pit lane at 1:45.

In the first group with James and I were AllonFS (a Tourist of course last year), Dani, undoz, Nobster and Batmobile (dispensing beautiful cherries from his garden), plus Bernard and Dominique.

The Tenthers begin to congregate opposite the Speedy Racing Team Sebah pits....     L-R:  Nobster, Batmobile, AllonFS, Bentley03 and Dani Filth     Joined on the right in the picture now by undoz....     With that famous Le Mans landmark, the ACO grandstand in the background....

You see?  I'm not the only one who wanders around with a camera in my hand all the time - undoz clicks the shutter....     And Dani looks pretty pleased to be here too!     And M. Batmobile, a very lucky man for two reasons....     He not only LIVES in Le Mans, but he has a cherry tree in his garden that produces beautiful cherries!!     Nobster, Allon and James try and think up excuses for the tyre problems the cars will have in the pitlane tomorrow after losing grip on.....cherry stones?!!

And we're joined at last by Bernard B and Dominique....     Bernard always seems to know when I'm taking a picture of him......

James had the whole thing superbly organised with entry tickets printed for everyone - to make sure we had no gatecrashers this year! We were soon into the pits, our tickets taken by ‘Roger the Truckie’ who handed us over to Team Manager Bart Hayden who then gave us a splendid guided tour covering everything from tyres to engines, telemetry and onto the chassis, during which we also met Stephan Gervais, the Marketing and Media Manager and Steve Wills, the engineer for the P1 car. 

Team Manager Bart Hayden was our guide for the tour....     The Tenthers pay rapt attention...... they learn about the two different engines the team is running in LMP1 and LMP2....     Here is #13, the Aston Martin-engined Lola LMP1 car.     And here's a full set of tyres which, as you can see, are intended for the #33 Judd-engined LMP2 car

Work continues to prepare the #33 Lola Judd, which qualified well in 3rd in class behind the two Porsche RS Spyders     And on the #13 Aston-Martin engined version, which qualified 10th, splitting the 'works' Gulf cars and only a second or so behind the fastest AMR Lola     Bart discusses the finer points with James and Allon     There's something a bit satisfying when you're in a pit garage while everyone else is stuck outside behind the ropes......  ;-)

The team was running a car in each of the two LMP classes, numbers 13 and 33 and, without a trace of bias, I can honestly say that the two cars, in their shiny red and blue liveries, were two of the the best turned out cars in the field.

The engine installations in the two cars were strikingly different - even to the layman - the compact Judd engine in #33.....     ....compared to the much larger Aston Martin unit in the #13 car     Bart Hayden here with the man from Lola - sadly I didn't get his name!     Steve Wills (on the right) was the engineer for the LMP1 car     The 'works' Gulf cars were next door, attracting a lot of media attention!

The work continued up and down the pitlane to ready the cars for the race tomorrow     And at 3 pm on Sunday they all wanted to be on the podium seen in the distance here....      No offence intended (of course) but the Gulf Aston Martin ladies didn't live up to the promise of the Embassy girls from 2008!     "No, you can't come inside the ropes - only the really important people are allowed in here....."  Eat your heart out Creation......  ;-)     Bart Hayden gave us a really memorable tour for which we were all very grateful.

It was an absolutely wonderful tour in which it was obvious that Bart wanted to make sure that it was as good for us as possible. It lasted a full 55 minutes and we each went away with a team T-shirt. For me, and I suspect many of the others, this was one of the real highlights of Le Mans 2009 and it ensured (as the team was no doubt hoping) that we became firm Speedy Team Sebah supporters for the rest of the weekend!

All too soon our excellent tour was at an end, just time for another couple of shots of the LMP1 car....     Having known relatively little about the team before today, I was suddenly converted into a big fan!     We also owed a huge debt of thanks to James/Bentley03 for organising such a great garage visit for us....

We could only hope now that the team's hard work would be rewarded.....     .....come 3 pm on Sunday!

I left the Speedy pits and the other “Tenthers” at about 2:40 knowing that I had about 40 minutes left in the pits before I would have to head off back to the cars to meet up with the other Tourists. So after a bit longer wandering the pit lane I finally made the now stupidly elongated walk back from the pits past the back of the paddock up to the stalls at the Dunlop chicane at which point I realised how hungry I was now, having eaten nothing at all since the Café Gondrée at about 8 o’clock that morning! So I grabbed a sandwich jambon and some water and by coincidence as I walked away from the stall, most of the other Tourists came walking up from the direction of the paddock. The only missing members of the team at this point were Jeremy and Phil but they soon joined us at the cars in the garage rouge.