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Le Mans 2016 - Ayse's Story

Page 1 - The Prologue



When you find yourself writing the opening of a story for the 31st time it's difficult to think of an original way to do it.  For the novel writer, there is likely to be a plot or storyline in mind which will change from one book to the next, however when you're beginning to start writing about an event which takes place every year opportunities to be creative are a little thin on the ground.  I could of course say that I had waited another whole year for this (and as I start to write, barely a week and a half after the end of the 2016 race, the waiting is now very much in my mind again).  Alternatively, if I had the in depth knowledge I could talk about the changes to the sportscar scene, but I'd be the first to admit that I don't really have that kind of knowledge.  So it comes back down to reflecting on the passing of another year, another 'from June to June', in which I have edged that little bit closer to my three-score years and can report the fact that (as tediously as ever) my working year has been very hard indeed as a manager of a rapidly diminishing team battling with a persistently troublesome workload.  (If you happen to be a fiddler, now is indeed the time for you to start playing....).  And as much as I may yearn to retire and take up a life of leisure, that brings with it the spectre of reduced finances and the unthinkable reality of tightening the belt and considering what luxuries may have to be sacrificed when this finally occurs.  And the annual trip to Le Mans is very much a luxury item.  Ten days of escapism and selfishness which although presently firmly rooted on the list of 'givens', will one day, through finance, health or whatever call for questions to be answered....  Well, there's a rather sombre thought on which to start.  (So I won't be repeating this one!). 

Team DoT had it's own 'test day' in April for the opening round of the WEC at Silverstone.  Like many, I'm not a fan of the move of this race from it's previous late August/early September slot each year.  Quite apart from the fact that the weather is generally guaranteed to be worse in April at a flat and very open former airfield, having the Silverstone round in the later part of the year split the year up much better, rather than having it only 7-8 weeks before Le Mans.  Having said that, Silverstone this year was nevertheless a very enjoyable long weekend, during which we encountered rain, curry, snow (yes snow!), more curry and even some occasional sunshine.  As to pointers to Le Mans, the performance gap between Porsche and Audi on the one hand and Toyota on the other seemed to have reduced slightly (an encouraging portent), while in GTEPro the only real issue to be resolved was the exact quantity of Hugh Chamberlain's 'Le Mans plage' that had been stuffed into all available orifices of the new Ford GT....

Prior to Silverstone we knew that the 'team' for Le Mans would look a little different this year.  For my part, my son Toby (who had talked of going to Le Mans for a number of years) finally determined to be there this year while Tony (although without Tim's company this year), would also swell the ranks with three additional friends.  Allon would also be joining us for the third time.  As always, James the team's organising supremo took all of this in his stride and made arrangements for accommodation and tickets as well as booking the ferry crossing for himself, Toby and I with his customary expertise. 

And so it came to pass that I finished work on Thursday 9th June (literally punching the air with delight as I left the office).  There was the small matter of a date with Rod Stewart for Jayne and I at the Ageus Bowl the following evening, but by the time we left for that my bags were substantially packed ready for the journey to Portsmouth the next day....