21 Jun 2012

Speedmonkey reviews Le Mans. Part 1

This year was my first ever trip to Le Mans. Now I've been around a while. Been to the TT, plenty of F1, BSB, BTCC races and Goodwood but I've never been to Le Mans. This was actually a back-up trip. It hadn't even been planned in the first place. But as I'd left it too late to get a ferry to the Isle of Man to the TT I decided that Le Mans would do as a reserve race so to speak. So we booked tickets - just the campsite, ferry and general admission. No press junket at Speedmonkey and got up at 5.45am (which, to be honest is a very silly time of day) on the Friday to drive to Dover.

 The waters were flat so the ferry journey was easy. Then the 4 hour drive from Calais to Le Mans conducted at the speed limit. Previous experience of the sneaky b*stard Police Nationale, hiding in bushes with speed cameras and their mates just up the road, saw to that. So we arrived at Maison Blanche at 5pm French time and pitched our tents - in the pouring rain. First up we had a look around. The campsite was huge with approximately 1 toilet per 50,000 people. There wasn't much to look at there so we headed over to the track which only turned out to be a 10 minute walk away. By this time it was evening proper.

 We walked around (still pouring with rain) and marvelled at the sheer size of the pit and grandstands - everything is huge. And wet. The track caters for an international audience by having dozens of bars that sell massively overpriced beer, sandwiches and just one hot item - French sausage and chips. The French sausage was as horrible as it sounds. Anyway after some more wandering around and getting wet we headed off for an early night in our wet tents.

 Saturday morning. It was still raining. We found our source of food for the next 2 days. An English burger bar selling everything from fish and chips, to fry-ups. After an excellent breakfast of fried everything in a bun it was off to the track and an explore. And what an explore. The track is 8 miles long and you can view from about half of it from the spectator areas. We eventually found a quiet spot towards the end of the Porsche curves and settled in. By early afternoon we were starting to wonder if it rained in France as much as it does in England. But miracle of miracles at 3pm, just as all 54 cars were revving up and readying for action the rain stopped! And then the race started...