Aysedasi's Le Mans

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Le Mans 1996 Ayse's Story

Page 11

Sunday 15th June - Race End at Arnage



Peter and I gradually got a bit agitated with our wait at this time.  2.00 p.m. came and went, with only 2 hours of the race left, and we were keen to get out to Indianapolis and Arnage.  The others finally returned at 2.10 p.m.  After trudging back to the cars yet again, we completed the journey out to the garage at Arnage at 2.50 pm with just over an hour of the race still to run.  The situation at the front of the field had undergone more dramatic changes with the demise of the second works Porsche GT1 and one of the two Gulf McLarens, both out due to serious fires on the Mulsanne Straight within a few laps and a few yards of each other!  Amazingly, this left the lone Joest TWR Porsche out in front again, with an apparently unassailable lead.


I snapped away at Arnage, getting shots of the remaining cars as they braked hard for the tight Arnage corner and then heading off for the Porsche Curves and the end of the lap.  We gradually moved around to other end of the enclosure, towards Indianapolis corner, where I tried to get some of my portrait format shots of the cars, as close up as I could.


At 3.15 pm it was time to get something to eat.  Having eaten very little at Le Belinois the night before, and only a small breakfast at Le Cheval Blanc, I was ravenous!  The other six indulged in omelettes and frites at the one and only eaterie at Arnage, while for me it had to be my first (and only) merguez of the week-end!  I think I've only been to Le Mans once without having a merguez sometime during the week-end, and I wasn’t about to make it twice!


After finishing our meal (and very good it was too) it was back to Indianapolis for the last half hour of the race, taking shots of the remaining cars as they completed their last few laps of the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hours.  I was able to get some quite good pictures of the drivers of the open cars, including Michele Alboreto in the Joest TWR Porsche, waving to the assembled masses at the corner.  All too soon though the race was over.  The TWR Porsche had done it again, one of the few occasions in the history of the race that the same chassis had won the race for a second time, and the fourth Le Mans victory for the Joest team.  Although a Porsche-engined car had won the race there was no doubt that it was egg on Porsche’s face for the second year running, Joest having taken its victory at the expense of the two factory GT1s, and in a car which, after the victory in 1996, the Porsche factory had given to Rheinhold Joest.  What proved to be a very generous gift, most would agree!


Seventeen cars completed the 1997 Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans, with 98 laps covering 1st to 17th.  The leading Gulf McLaren snatched 2nd place after the retirement of the two Porsches, with the second-string BMW McLaren taking the other podium place.  The Haberthur Porsche won the GT2 class, despite losing a wheel in the Ford Chicane on Sunday morning.  For the second year running, the Joest team’s performance allowed a Le Mans debutant to win the race.  This year it was Tom Kristensen’s turn, following in the footsteps of Alex Wurz in 1996.















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