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been replaced by sunshine.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......