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Le Mans 2017 - Ayse's Story

Page 13 - Shall We Race?

Saturday 17th June



In the heat of the day it was a decent trek around the back of the grandstands to our seats in Raccordement at the Ford Chicane and the stand was already filling up fast as we made our way to our seats.  The view was very different to what we had become used to in the front row of T17 and I confess I was concerned about how cramped the seating was.  There was very little room for my camera bag at my feet and as the seats had no backs, if you leaned backwards you were effectively resting against the knees of the person behind you!  But putting these concerns aside, we had seats out of the burning sun and it remained a case of 'a change is as good as a rest', even though we were missing out on the cars and the drivers collected together on the start/finish straight. 



As the time moved on closer to the 3 pm start the stand filled up completely.  The Motul girls arrived (this being the Motul grandstand after all) and fired t-shirts into the stand, or at least some of them did.  There was one young lady whose aim was a little suspect and she seemed incapable of depositing them anywhere other than on the roof!  Before long the flag to start the race was delivered by helicopter to be used by F1 supremo Chase Carey to start the race and the French Air Force display team did their traditional fly over. 






It was at this time that I realised that the ACO had changed the starting procedure for the race.  Instead of the cars being released well before the start one by one from their echelon formation, enabling them to have a lap or two to check systems etc., they remained on the starting grid in their formation until they were flagged off straight onto the final formation lap.  As the cars came around to start the race it wasn't easy to take photos or video and I certainly incurred the wrath of the Frenchman sitting on my left as my lens got in the way of his on several occasions!  But, as always, it was great to see the race under way for another year, particularly in such glorious weather. 









So we settled in to get a good handle on the early running and there didn't seem to be all that much to choose between the Toyotas and the Porsches at this stage.  The CLM (now an 'Emso') was an early casualty following some kind of collision of the first lap (possibly with one of the Toyotas).  The Rebellions were running particularly strongly in P2 while the battle between the five manufacturers in GTPro looked set to last for the whole race...  Another early 'faller' was the 88 Proton Porsche of Khaled Al Qubaisi, punted off the track and into immediate retirement due to the poor driving of James' Russian toilet chum.....











Despite the rather cramped location we were all still enjoying watching the race from a different viewpoint and we managed to last a lot longer in those seats that I had thought we would, finally making the decision to move on and get something to eat around 7.30 pm.  We took our meal in the cafe in the ACO grandstand which as members we were still free to use, even thought we didn't have seats in T17 this year.  Having started to eat I was rather surprised to find that I had relatively little appetite for once.  It was clearly time to exercise the legs!