It's always good to wake up on
the Tuesday at Le Mans in the knowledge that it's a totally free day with no
fixed commitments, allowing us to do as much or as little as we like on the last
day before the on-track action begins. I was up and showered at much the
usual time and we headed up to the Bar Havane for the first time in 2016 for our
breakfast of croissants, pain au chocolat and incredibly strong coffee. We
had to buy our pastries from the patisserie around the corner but when Madame
realised we would be regular breakfast visitors during the week she was quick to
offer to get them in for us for the next morning, an offer which we gratefully
After our breakfast we briefly
stopped back at the hotel before jumping in the car again to do our by now
traditional (and de rigeur) lap of the circuit (in so far as that's possible).
Toby hadn't actually seen it yet and James and I were particularly keen to see
the changes made to the road at Arnage and the new spectator bank at
We had a gentle run around, accompanied by some weak sunshine
for a change and as planned we stopped right on apex of the Indianapolis
left-hander to get out and have a look around. It certainly looked
different! The track was exactly the same of course however the public
road now turned off of the circuit about half way between that corner and Arnage
corner, culminating in a new roundabout to the left, bypassing the Arnage corner
and making a small section of what was public road now permanent race track,
unused by daily motorists.
We had a good look around from
trackside. The new viewing bank overlooking the run into Indianapolis
certainly looked impressive and supported the information we had already
received from Ten Tenths own local reporter Batmobile that spectators would be
able to see over the fencing, providing another (rare) opportunity for the
amateur photographer to shoot fence-less photographs of the cars.
After our recce, we headed
back to the car and made our way around to the Porsche Curves where we again
stopped under the bridge (with the circuit above us) and walked up to the track
to tread the 'hallowed' asphalt'. Apart from being rather fun (even though
James and I had done this before), it also gave us the chance to take a look at
the new 'SAFER' barrier installed between the track and the concrete wall.
We didn't stop for long for fear of finding the car clamped or towed away (!)
and we completed our 'lap' driving on around to pause alongside the dual
carriageway on the other side of the airport near the Actisud.
One of the things that we had
decided to do again this year was a trip to the Le Mans museum. Toby was
very keen to see it and James and I hadn't been since 2010 so we parked up just
outside Parking Blanc (we weren't allowed to actually go into the field today)
and walked back up to the main circuit entrance in what were increasingly windy
and wet conditions.
If nothing else, it was good
to get inside out of the worsening weather for a while. Even though it was
six years since I'd visited the museum (for the first time), little had changed
and most of the cars and other exhibits were very familiar. But it was
still entertaining and well worth a visit, particularly if you've not been
before. James and I finished our wander around after an hour or so,
pausing at the end to see the few recent additions, however Toby was determined
to get his money's worth and have a really close look at the cars and their
engines from every conceivable angle. And to take a horde of photographs
of them as well - which is why there are rather more photos in the museum than
might otherwise have been the case! In fact, so many, I've put them on a
separate page.... (see page 6).
Toby finally dragged himself from the
museum and joined James and I in the cafe outside at about 2.30 where we had
been trying to get onto the museum's free wifi, with it's extraordinarily long
wifi code which we completely failed to commit to memory! We then
took a look in the ACO shop where I decided to buy a sticker for my car and a
new mouse mat. After waiting about 20 minutes to be served, I almost
wished I hadn't!
As we left the museum and
headed back to the car, it was clear that the weather had got even worse, very
wet and windy. As it was by now around 3.30 and we hadn't eaten since
breakfast, we stopped off at Auchan on the way back to the hotel where James and
I bought some foie gras each, plus bread and biscuits. Toby had already
filled his room with fruit from Auchan. The surprisingly cheap foie gras
turned out to be surprisingly good and just enough to stave off the hunger pangs
without filling me up too much before dinner in about three hours time!
There had of course been
another good reason to get back to the hotel as today being Tuesday was 'Tony's
arrival day'. Tony and his 'party' arrived at 6.50 and this year they
significantly increased the size of the team! With Tony in the Brera was
John and in his Lexus was Andrew, with Paul, all friends of Tony's, some of whom
I had met previously on trips to Silverstone. They were all able to get
straight into their rooms for a quick turnaround as they were keen to eat.
As this was Tony's first
evening there was only one place to go for our meal - Del Arte - to indulge in
another Pizza Marocco. The goats cheese starter went down a treat again
and on this occasion it was amusing (to me at least) to note that the only two
to indulge in a dessert were James and I, who had both stuffed ourselves with
foie gras not too long before.... It was a really pleasant meal and a good
chance to quickly get to know the new members of the team, bearing in mind that
John, Paul and Andrew were making their Le Mans debuts.
After a good evening we were
back at the hotel just before 10 pm. Tony and his contingent needed a good
night's sleep after their journeys as tomorrow would see the first action on the
track, which wouldn't finish until midnight. As for me, it was to be a
much later night than expected with Jayne phoning me at 00:45 after coming in
following an evening out with her friend Maria. At least I could expect to
sleep well after that and with no pressure to rise early in the morning.