The traffic was fairly light and it only took us
20 minutes or so to reach the car park at Mulsanne Corner (and for those who
don't think it's necessary to buy a Mulsanne/Arnage parking ticket, we were
required to show our parking pass to get in!). The Road to Le Mans cars
were out when we got there. We had plenty of time
before the session started and decided to eat before heading up onto the bank
overlooking the corner. Naturally enough, the choice was an easy one -
sandwich Americain merguez was the order of the day, almost an obligatory
pre-qualifying meal at Le Mans!
Having had our dinner we headed up onto the
banking and set up our camping chairs ready for the two hour qualifying session.
Toyota were expected to head the way after their performance on the test day a
week and a half ago, but the margin to Porsche was less than a second. But
with a best lap in the late 3:18's, we were sure that there was plenty still to
come. James and I managed to get our second name-check of the day from
Radio Le Mans. During the earlier free practice session Paul Truswell
had mentioned that we would be watching from the Ford Chicane (later anyway),
although we missed that one as we didn't have our 'ears on' at the time and I
wasn't aware of it until I played the podcast after the race. The second
one came as the #27 SMP Dallara arrived at Mulsanne Corner already well ablaze.
There was some doubt on RLM about the situation so James sent a text and
a short while later we got our name-check. Bearing in mind that over many
years we had never had one before (apart from Allon when he was absent through
illness), it came as a rather nice surprise to get two in one day (although, as
I say, I didn't know it at the time!).
It was a beautiful balmy evening and the only
drawback was that the radio reception at Mulsanne was absolutely hopeless.
Although James had good reception on his new headphones radio, mine was very
poor and Tony couldn't pick up Radio Le Mans at all. We both have the same
headphones (Elvex Quietunes) and had bought them several years before. I
think we both concluded after this that we might need to invest in a new set by
the time of Le Mans 2018.
By the end of the session Toyota had provisional
pole by a slender margin. TDS were in a similar position in LMP2, while
Aston and AF Corse were at the top of the GTEPro list and almost inevitably,
Pedro Lamy heading the timings in GTEAm in his Aston Martin. At midnight
the session came to an end and we packed up our chairs in almost complete
darkness and made the long walk back to the car in the car park. We had a
good clear run back to the hotel, arriving just before 1 am. It had been
so warm that I actually had to take a cool shower before I headed off to bed!