So after a reasonably early night it was
inevitable that I would wake up early on the morning of my 32nd Le Mans race.
I was awake at 6 am but slept on until 7 when I got up. I knew I would
need a decent amount of time this morning to set out my camera gear and the
clothes that I wanted to put in the car in case it turned out cold overnight.
It goes without saying almost that the weather was superb yet again and there
seemed little chance of any ran during the race. But I'd been lulled into
a false sense of security several times before so I wasn't taking any chances
and packed my waterproof and thermal coat, thermal long-johns, a jumper and
extra socks, so I was completely prepared.
But it was as I joined Tony and Allon outside that
I discovered that we had a serious problem - James had lost his wallet.
Not only did his wallet contain his cash and cards, but also his entry and
grandstand tickets. James had obviously had it at Del Arte the night
before so his first thought was that he may have left it there. He assured
us that he had searched his room, his bags and his clothes as well as his car
thoroughly with no trace of the errant wallet. He tried to call the
restaurant with no success so as time was now pressing on, Allon and I squeezed
into Tony's Brera and made our way to the circuit, while James went back to Del
Arte to see if there was anyone there who could check for his missing wallet.
Fortunately his Parking Blanc ticket was still in his car so at least he could
get parked, even if it meant that he would have to buy another entry ticket.
The journey into the circuit was pretty slow this
year and the road leading down to the main entrance was jammed solid, but
eventually we arrived in the car park at 11.10. As we were standing there,
having only just got out of the car and beginning to make decisions about what
to take with us, we were amazed to see James' black Laguna come through the
entrance. It turned out that he had no luck at Del Arte so he went back to
the hotel for one last check of his stuff and found the wallet in the pocket of
his jeans - where it had been all the time! He was understandably a little
sheepish about it, but we were all as pleased as he was, a case of all's well
that ends well. I should have taken a photograph of his 'Bob Wollek' (as
my wallets have rather bizarrely been known for many years) for posterity!
So with something of a spring in our collective
step, we parked up (for the second year running we had no interlopers in our
spaces), and headed into the circuit with the rest of the crowd, which was
building significantly. As we were a bit later in than usual we decided to
make our way straight to the Village for the annual Ten Tenths meeting, arriving
there at about 11.40. For the first time in my memory we were the first to
arrive in our designated meeting place, but were soon joined by Victor and
Robert. Christopher and Mathias soon arrived along with Simon and Helen.
As to Simon, therein lies a tale I haven't yet
told. Two weekends earlier Simon and Ian (iSynge) had travelled over for
the test day but came to grief soon after leaving Le Mans on the journey home
when Simon dropped off at the wheel. By all accounts it was a nasty
accident, leaving them both in hospital with back injuries. It was little
short of a miracle that Simon was able to make it back again albeit wearing a
full back and chest protector, however sadly Ian came off worse and wasn't able
to make it back for the race.
It was a very good turnout and Pascal was there
once again with his table with foie gras and other goodies. Eric was there
as well of course, with Bernard and Dominique, all regulars over many years of
Tenths meetings. Other names I can recall (aided by my photographs), in no
particular order were Sean, Guy, Dani, Renee, Scott, Kenn and his son, Walter
and Ton, Nobby and ATLFalconsFan along with Sam Collins from Race Car
Engineering and Radio Le Mans fame. For most of us this was our
first get together since the same time last year although I had bumped into one
of two Tenthers at Silverstone in April and we met Eric of course earlier in the
week. It was, as always, and excellent meeting with plenty of food (I even
took one of Jayne's famous lemon drizzle cakes!) and a positively bewildering
variety of beers, wines and spirits. I took a few photographs of
individuals and small groups chatting but as is always the way people soon began
to drift off either to their grandstand seats or to find suitable spots to catch
the start of the race.
So it was time to organize the annual Ten Tenths
meeting photographs. I took some as did Bernard. In fact we had
already had our picture taken while the meeting was still in full swing.
Our group had attracted the attention of a journalist from the local paper
Ouest France who was taking photographs of interest around the circuit.
She was taken by the story of our meeting and took some photographs of the
group, which we naturally hoped would see the light of day in the paper in due
(And we did!)
The time was rapidly approaching 1 pm and bearing
in mind that we had much further to go to our seats and needed to buy some food
to eat later, we said our farewells to the remaining Tenthers and made our way
to the underpass and then behind the grandstands to find our seats in