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Le Mans 2017 - Ayse's Story

Page 6 - Let's Get Down to Business....

Wednesday 14th June



When I woke up around 7.30 on Wednesday morning it became obvious fairly quickly that something I had eaten at Del Arte was disagreeing with me in the 'traditional' way (that I don't necessarily want to go into too much detail about here!).  After waiting a little while longer than usual to get myself up and ready, I rendezvoused outside with James and Tony, only to discover that James had been similarly afflicted, however we weren't going to allow this to put us off our breakfast!  So it was off to the bar again - the first time for Tony in 2017. 

After breakfast we took a trip to Auchan to enable Tony to buy some items and I also stocked up on a few things.  Once again it was a blissfully sunny and hot day and we were all very conscious of the need to keep stocked up on fluids as it was going to be a long day as well.  After going back to the hotel to stow away our purchases and sort out our gear for the circuit, we set off for Parking Blanc at 12.40.  On our arrival we were delighted to be welcomed by our old friend 'Bicycle Man' (see the 2015 and 2016 stories) who dutifully checked that we had parked correctly.  It was ironic as we discovered later that we had actually got it wrong, parking one space back from where we were supposed to be - not that it really mattered today.  Despite losing out on our grandstand seats we had managed to secure our usual parking spaces which was good.  By 1.20 we were heading into the circuit, going through a more significant bag searching routine than we had encountered previously. 




There was no action on track today until the free practice session began at 4 pm so we decided to do our usual early arrival activity and check out the shops behind the grandstands.  It really was incredibly hot by now, certainly the hottest weather we'd encountered during the week so far and it was actually quite hard to summon up the enthusiasm and energy to walk from stall to stall.  Ordinarily we would have gone inside the circuit and made our way down to the Espace Club to join the queue to sign on and obtain our ACO armbands however the ACO's club stall behind the grandstands was open and we were able to sign on there straight away, which was a huge bonus as it saved us a slog down to the inside of the Dunlop Bridge in the blazing sunshine.

Having signed in we took the decision to watch the start of the free practice session in the very welcome shade of the Durand (T17) grandstand.  It was good to be back in 'our' grandstand again and it was strange to reflect on the fact that we wouldn't be watching the start of the race from here on Saturday, the first time since 2011 for me.  The ACO were typically late in opening the doors and we had to wait for 10 minutes after the advertised opening time to get into the building whereupon we made straight to the cafe for our baguettes and drinks before taking up seats in our usual practice spot at the top of the stand opposite the Audi pits, now occupied by GDrive and TDS (not Rebellion as was initially misidentified by Radio Le Mans several times during the week).  It was really very good to be up there out of the direct sun but the heat was still everpresent and the cafe was an even more valuable resource to us than usual for cold drinks. 





As is customary on Wednesday, the number of spectators seemed quite low and as practice began the grandstand was quite sparsely populated, although it did fill up a bit more as the afternoon wore on.  In fact the attendance was increased by one 'freeloader' - a small bird that spent quite a long time flitting between the roof supports of the grandstand! 


It's at this point of the story that you get the first of my traditional 'ropey photo' warnings.  I try every year and my offerings these days rarely improve!  My excuse is that taking photos from the grandstands opposite the pits is always difficult as a result of the fencing and the loudspeakers on top of the fencing, but this year's offerings from free practice are a pretty poor bunch, I'm afraid....  I think my photos of the bird were the best I took all afternoon!  




























We ended up watching the whole of the four hour practice session from the shade of T17, leaving the stand just after 8 pm to head back to the car.  Normally we would have gone to Arnage and Indianapolis on Wednesday evening for the first qualifying session, however Allon (who would join us tomorrow) had particularly asked if we could do Arnage on Thursday evening instead, so we chose to watch the first qualifying from Mulsanne Corner instead.