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Le Mans 2012 - Ayse's Story

Page 7 - Wednesday

Free Practice, More Camera Woes and Our First 'Hit' of Tertre Rouge


So as 4 pm arrived, we went up the banking at the ACO Espace Club to watch the cars come out on track for the first time.  As always, my camera was immediately into action but all was not entirely well.  Regular readers will remember that I had serious camera problems last year.  When I came home, I started investigating replacing both my camera and my zoom lens.  I had a stroke of serious good luck when fellow Ten Tenths member Gordon Streeter managed to source me a Canon EOS 40D at an incredible price and I was able to give it a good 'run out' at the Silverstone ILMC race in September.  But the problem I'd had at Le Mans persisted so I knew finally (as I guess I had all along) that it was the lens that was at fault.  At this point I invested in a discounted 55-250IS lens.  OK, hardly high end, but just about within my limited budget!  I tried it out a few times at my son's inline hockey matches and all looked very good, but this week at Le Mans was the first serious test for both camera and lens.

I'd taken a few shots before I noticed that each one had what looked like a hairline on it.  I cleaned off both the camera mirror and the focusing screen and although I managed to dislodge said hair, despite all my efforts, it just wouldn't go.  Eventually after I took a lens tissue to the camera innards, I finally got rid of the damned thing - I was very relieved!  You can see what I mean in those first shots - I've not bothered to edit the 'hair' out....



          Finally, the pesky hair has been removed from my camera!



After spending a while at this point we decided to move on down the inside of the circuit at the back of the Esses (next to the Bugatti circuit) and went under the tunnel and out to the outside of Tertre Rouge.  I didn't take all that many shots from here for the simple reason that the fencing is so intrusive there to allow you to capture anything spectacular - or even reasonable.  I was actually itching to get over to the inside of the circuit where I knew I would find a good vantage-point above the fencing - but I also knew that this was a four-hour session, so there was no rush at all and it was good anyway to be able to spend some time familiarising myself with the cars I last saw in the town on Sunday and Monday.





We did eventually make that journey through the tunnel and settled ourselves in up on the bank where I took hundreds of shots plus plenty of video.  I'd been determined to get some decent footage this year, having got so little in 2011.  We were joined briefly by two Tenthers, Simmi (Rich) and Truckosaurus (Guy), both of whom would be joining us at Audi for the first qualifying session in the evening. 













Many, many photographs later the session ended at 8pm and it was incredible to think that we'd actually been watching the cars already for longer than two full Grand Prix and yet it had seemed to fly by.  And in those four hours I'd taken 650 photographs.  I think it was this year that I finally shook off the old 'film' mentality and I was completely comfortable with the practice of just leaving my finger on the shutter button as I panned the cars around Tertre Rouge. 

We now had two hours to kill before the first qualifying session started at 10 pm and the first thing all of our minds turned to was - food!  We were starving and made our usual bee-line for the eaterie down below the hillock at the bottom of the Esses where we all indulged in that most quintessential of Le Mans circuit meals, the sandwich Americaine merguez - a magnificent creation, a large baguette containing two super-spicy merguez sausages and then stuff full on top with delicious frites!  You can't get to the bread or the sausage for at least 10 minutes as it takes all that time to dig through the chips to find them!  OK, possibly not the healthiest of meals, but boy does it go down well when you're absolutely ravenous! 

Our meal whiled away a good half hour or more but we were in no rush.  We were due to rendezvous with Teresa from Audi at 9.45, so we eventually meandered back up the inside of the circuit and set off through the Village in search of Audi's 'Fan' area.