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Le Mans 2017 - Ayse's Story

Page 3 - Out in the Sunshine - Scrutineering 1

Sunday 11th June



In contrast to what had been a rather cold night at this stage last year, it was rather warm overnight in my room at the Campanile.  It had the benefit of air conditioning but this was so noisy and inconsistent that I quickly turned it off.  Despite that I slept pretty well but woke early at 5.40.  I slept on for a bit of course but eventually got up and had a fairly cool shower, made some coffee and got dressed.  I tried to phone home but as Jayne was staying for a few nights with her mum and reception is very poor there at the best of times, it wasn't a very successful call.  By 8.30 the sun was already blazing down so I went out for a walk around the hotel which despite being built on the outskirts of an industrial estate, is actually quite picturesque.  I couldn't help but reflect on the contrast to this time last year when I was greeted with heavy rain as I left my room.  The sunshine made such a difference and really boosted my spirits. 



James was also up and about early and by 9.30 we had loaded up the car again, paid our room taxes and left the Campanile, still in brilliant sunshine for the relatively short journey to the outskirts of Le Mans to our hotel  near St. Saturnin. 


As it happens, despite having made this journey seven times before, we took a wrong turn as we neared Le Mans and had a pleasant detour around the country lanes near our friend Eric's home town of Coulaines, before finally arriving at the hotel at 10.25.  We were royally welcomed by our hosts as usual and were able to get straight into our rooms.  We gave ourselves an hour to unpack, putting all of our bits and pieces in their by now standard places in the same room I had stayed in for the last four years.  It was truly a joy to be back there in what would be our Le Mans 'home' for the next eight nights. 


With everything sorted we left the hotel at 11.30 for the journey to the centre of Le Mans and again, after a bit of a detour, we arrived in the car park at the Rue D'Algers an hour or so later.  It was by now getting so hot that decisions had to be taken that very often simply don't fall to be considered.  I had already taken the near-extraordinary step (for me, anyway) to swap trousers for shorts and my ever-present bodywarmer also had to be discarded as no body warming at all was required!  Fortunately my shorts were well-blessed with pockets and I was able to put other bits and bobs in my camera bag.  On arrival at the Place de la République autopilot kicked in and we made a beeline for the Restaurant Galand for our standard opening food gambit in France - croque madame, with sautéd potatoes and salad which was every bit as good as we had expected it to be. 


In order to escape the sun we walked around the Place to our familiar haunt in the road where the cars arrived from the circuit for scrutineering . This area was largely in the shade where there was some welcome relief from the sun. We walked down to the end of this road (where it is closed to traffic while scrutineering takes place), and "set up shop" watching the cars arrive.  Scrutineering started at 2.00 pm, and some of the cars were already there, such as the P2 entries from Tockwith and Cetilar Villorba Corse. The Dempsey Proton cars were also there, although they were very early, not due in until the latter part of the afternoon. The stars of Sunday's scrutineering, the Porsche 919 Hybrids soon arrived and were pushed around in front of us into the queue.  In due course the Aston Martins arrived, as well as the Jackie Chan DC  Racing Orecas, and my pick for GTE AM honours, the JMW Ferrari.















While we were standing watching the cars go into scrutineering, we were joined by our old friend Eric Vaillant who stayed with us for most of the rest of the afternoon.  Eric, a local of Le Mans, is a real devotee of the 24 Hours and has the advantage of being able to wander into the circuit and drive the public parts of the track whenever he wants! He has become a very good friend to us and is very much the Ten Tenths local Le Mans "correspondent".


We finally decided that we'd had our fill of scrutineering around 4.30 pm and headed back to the car in the Rue D'Algers, whacked the air conditioning up to a Spinal Tap-style 11 and set off back to the Hotel, arriving about 5 pm. 

It had been a really hot day in the centre of town and the first thing I needed when I got back was a nice cool shower.  We estimated that the temperature had reached 32 degrees, just under 90 in 'old money' and it was good to have the chance to cool down and change out of my sweaty kit.  James and I had already discussed where we might have dinner this evening however I don't think either of us had any doubt that we were going to Del Arte!  So at 6.30 pm we made the short journey to the local restaurant where I indulged in some goats cheese to start followed by the obligatory Pizza Marocco.  A very good crème brulée rounded off the meal perfectly.  We bumped into Walter and Ton while we were there, having seen them both at scrutineering earlier as well, both now working for WEC-Magazin. 


Having enjoyed an excellent meal we were back at the hotel just after 8.30.  It was still very hot and after updating some bits and pieces on the website and copying my photographs and videos from my camera and phone to my laptop, I finally turned in around 10 pm.

For my videos from Day 1 of scrutineering, go here -