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Le Mans 2018 - Ayse's Story

Page 3 - The Boys are Back in Town - Scrutineering 1

Sunday 10th June



The Campanile lived up to it's normal reputation for me in that it wasn't a good night's sleep.  The rooms are either too hot or too cold and the Saturday night was another hot one.  The air conditioning only seemed to blow out hot air which wasn't much use when the room was very hot already and you can only open the window about an inch.  I did eventually get off to sleep around midnight but awoke several times and eventually gave up trying around 7 am when I made a coffee and had a shower.  It was a nice morning though and the fog of the previous evening had thankfully been replaced by sunshine.  I got up and went out for a walk, soon being joined by James and we had a stroll around the hotel before heading back to our rooms to load the car up again.  James F was up and about while Ramona caught up on her sleep. 


Having loaded up the two cars we set off in convoy again for the short journey to Le Mans, or rather our Le Mans 'home from home' on the outskirts, arriving just after 11 am.  As had been the case for the last few years now, Monsieur and Madame had our rooms ready and I think for the sixth year running I settled down to set out my gear and clothes in room 117.  Madame had in fact told me on Facebook some weeks before that my room was ready and waiting for me! 

With everything stowed where it should be we all met outside and James F drove us all into town for the first part of scrutineering, but not before the dry weather turned to rain.  It was becoming increasingly humid too.  We took up a space in our usual car park in the Rue D'Algers and walked up to the Place de la République where the familiar ACO scrutineering marquees had been set up.  Happily by this time the rain had almost stopped.  Regular readers will have no trouble at all guessing where we headed to next. It was lunchtime and as we hadn't eaten since 7.30 the evening before that meant a trip to the Galand restaurant and patisserie for the staple Team DoT lunch of croque madame with salad and sautéed potatoes.  It was 12.35 as we sat down and we had plenty of time to enjoy our splendid lunch as the first car wasn't due to be scrutineered until 2 pm (although they would be arriving from the circuit quite a while before that).  As always it was a grand way to start the day of scrutineering and our first full day in France. 


Although lunch was very good, I didn't bring James all the way to France for a croque madame.  (Although having said that, he had long inherited his father's love for them!).  No, we came to see cars so with the meal done and paid for we walked up around the corner to where the cars were beginning to assemble, starting with the first car through, the Panis Barthez Ligier.  Just across the road the two CEFC TRSM Ginettas were parked in their eye-catching blue and white livery.  The team had certainly had a tough time of it in the lead up to the race with what was effectively a no-show at Spa amidst talk of major problems with their Chinese backers.  Also through in the early part of the afternoon were the four (yes four!) Jackie Chan DC Racing cars, plus the Corvettes, resplendent in their familiar bright yellow colour scheme. 


















After the arrival of several GTEAm Ferraris and a selection of LMP2s we witnessed the arrival of the next two 'privateer' LMP1s, the BR1s of SMP Racing which again looked very good indeed in red, white and blue.  They were another team to adopt the 'mirror-finish' for some of their livery.  I guess I'll get bored with it eventually however for the time being I really like it and have done so since I first saw the stunning livery of the Clearwater Ferrari two years ago.  It's certainly catching on!  Today's car arrivals (all marshalled into position of course by 'Napoleon Junior'!) wound up with the three Proton Porsches and the venerable Enso CLM from ByKolles.  The Porsches included my immediate favourite in the looks department - the mirrored green and silver of the #99 car, the livery courtesy of driver Tim Pappas and his Black Swan Racing Team. 

As the final cars arrived and were pushed into line ready to go in for scrutineering the earlier arrivals began to depart.  James and I had already moved down to the exit at the bottom of the road and saw a number of cars depart, including the two Ginettas.  We even managed to ask truck driver how it was going and whether the cars would be running high or low downforce bodywork.  We got an answer to the fist question, but not the second!  Missing unusually from our today was our old friend Eric Vaillant (Batmobile from Ten Tenths) who had decided to give scrutineering a miss today and tomorrow as he was resting up his back ready for the on-track action from Wednesday after a painful time with lumbago. 



My videos from Day 1 of scrutineering are here -

As the last cars headed in to scrutineering, having seen all we wanted to see, we made our way back to the car in the Rue D'Algers and drove back to the hotel.  It had been a humid day so I had a quick shower to freshen up before phoning home for a chat with Jayne.  It was an easy decision where we would be going to eat that evening - it had to be Del Arte - although we knew already from our old friends Walter and Ton that the mighty Pizza Marocco had now morphed into the Pizza Vesuvio which we were keen to try.  Unlike our visits to Del Arte last year, the service was good and we were soon tucking into pizzas that seemed to have changed very little, other than the name!  I also indulged (very unusually) in a glass of Afligem which was very nice indeed, even if I knew after the first few sips that I would be paying a penalty for it later that evening.  The meal was completed with a very nice crême brulée. 



After this early meal we were back to the hotel by 9 pm for the first of the week's early nights in readiness for what was to come at the weekend.  Chip was of course with me on the trip, as always......