My Debut at the CBW and Toby's
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
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!