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Le Mans 2016 - Ayse's Story

Page 11 - Friday 17th June

My Debut at the CBW and Toby's Architectural Interlude


After the activity of qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday its always good to be able to take a breath and relax on the Friday.  My morning routine was much the same as always, up and showered with coffee in my room by 8.30 and then some time to just chill before the whole team made short trip to the bar for breakfast.  We've been using the Bar Havane at St. Saturnin for seven years now, having coffee and croissants there on those days when we don't have to dash into the circuit. 


The bar also just happens to be a stone's throw from the location of the annual 'Classic British Welcome', a classic car show attracting thousands of visitors each year since it started in 2003.  The event is held on the Friday, the day before the race.  Despite being so close to it neither James or I had ever been to it.  It has to be said that we actually had no intention of going to it this year either, however Toby was very keen to experience everything on offer so we decided to go and take a quick look as we had nothing else planned.  It turned out to be a rather good decision.....

So James, Toby, Allon and I made the walk down the road to the 'CBW'.  If I recall correctly, Tony, Andrew, John and Paul were going in to the circuit for the pitwalk, as they hadn't had the chance we had on Wednesday.  The road in was very busy with a lot of classic vehicles.  Basically, if you turn up in what the organisers consider to be a classic car you get ushered in to join the display, otherwise you're routed to the car park for the boring cars!  Parking was clearly tricky bearing in mind the rain that had been very heavy in the weeks leading up to Le Mans which had affected the fields available to the organisers for parking. 








There turned out to be a very wide variety of cars to look at, ranging from the interesting to the exotic and beautiful, although the ones that attracted me the most were a fabulous little Fiat 500 estate and a glorious Ferrari P4 (which was being parked rather badly!).  We finally left the event at midday after a thoroughly enjoyable hour and a but in the rare sunshine.  We quickly nipped back to the hotel before heading off to Auchan again to allow Allon to do some shopping. 

After that we drove back into the circuit to enable Allon to join the pitwalk.  Having had such a good pitwalk experience on Wednesday, I wasn't all that bothered about squeezing in with the crowds to get another look at the cars but Tony wanted to stop up at the Greaves pit where an old friend and work colleague, Nick Moulton was working for the team.  They had a chat but Nick clearly had plenty of work to do  as the team got the car ready for the race.  We finished the pitwalk at around 2.15 and were able to stand out on the track itself and admire the view that we would be looking down on tomorrow!



After doing the rounds of the shops in the Village (again!) we finally left the circuit at around 5 pm.  Toby was determined to go to the driver parade which neither James or I were intending to do, so we dropped him off in town, arranging to pick him up again at 7.30 so we could go back out again to eat. 

There will now be a brief (largely architectural) interlude for Toby's shots of the old Le Mans town.......













We chilled a while at the hotel and then picked Toby up, bang on time.  We were going to eat Chinese this evening, Tony having found a huge Chinese restaurant buried in the depths of an industrial estate serving an 'all you can eat' buffet for just 16 only 15 minutes or so from the hotel.  They had gone ahead and we joined them at about 7.50 at the Villa D'Or.  The food was pleasant enough although not amazing and there was certainly plenty of it.  They also cooked to order and I had some chicken satay which was pretty good. 

As is the way on the Friday evening, we were keen to have our meal and then get back to the hotel to maximise sleep, as this would be our last before Sunday night.  So, the preliminaries were not all but over; tomorrow the real business of Le Mans would begin.  There was something of a red sky at night, but I somehow had the feeling that the old saying might not be totally accurate as a prediction of tomorrow's weather!