Le Mans 2009 - The Tourists' Story - Page 1
Bring Me Sunshine.......
I suppose the main thought for me in my final preparations for Le Mans 2009 was the hope of somehow appeasing the French weather-Gods following the rain of 2007 and 2008! We were definitely due some serious sunshine....
As has tended to be the case for some years now, the core of this year's team of 10 Tourists remained the same from 2008, with Ian, Martyn, Alan, Jeff, Nick, Jeremy and myself all returning for more. Of the remaining three, two had been to Le Mans before, Terry making his fourth visit (1989, 1995 and 2000) while Jim was back for the seventh time, the last being two years ago. (These figures are only based on the Le Mans I have been to since 1986). The only Le Mans 'newbie' in 2009 was Jeremy's pal, Phil who would be making the trip to La Sarthe in style in Jeremy's Aston. For the full 'roll' of Tourists since 1986, click the link below.....
The 2009 Le Mans itinerary started in identical fashion to last year, calling for a rendezvous at Chief Tourist Ian's home in Southampton, followed by a quick walk down the road to the local pub for dinner. Jeremy and Phil had gone on ahead and would meet us on the ferry in Portsmouth. After eating (and enjoying the company of former Tourists Chris and Richard), we had a quick walk back to the cars to stow away our bags and head off to Portsmouth for the 11pm ferry to Caen.
The wait on the quay was relatively short, during which time we admired the exotic cars making the trip, including the fantastic Bentley that won the race in both 1929 and 1930 in the hands of Woolf Barnato. Rebodied after the 1930 race by Barnato for racing at Brooklands, the car was now US-owned but was being brought to Le Mans for some pre-race display lappery by a very lucky Bentley employee!
After a brief stop to give the bored customs man another tick on his five-bar gate we made a very speedy entry onto the ferry - no more queues for us! - so that we had not only located our cabin but had beers in our hands within 20 minutes or so of getting on board.... Although the Normandie was typically late in setting off we knew that any lost time would easily be made up during the night crossing. By half past midnight it was time for the cabin 6301 crew to head off for some shut-eye before being woken by the dreaded Brittany Ferries opera at 6.30 (French time)....
With a weather forecast that suggested no rain now at all until late on Sunday, it was good to wake up to the confirmation of blue skies after a reasonable sleep during which Martyn, Jim and Alan greatly enjoyed my snoring.... The exit from the ferry was pretty quick and we were soon on the road in search of breakfast. There being no other plan, we decided to repeat our 2008 visit to the Pegasus Bridge at Benouville to enjoy croissants and coffee courtesy of the very convivial Madame Gondrée at her now legendary café.
We left Benouville at around 8.15 and were quickly on route to the 77th running of the World's Greatest Motor Race - as Radio Le Mans commentator John Hindhaugh said last year - 'You can disagree - but you'd be wrong'...... My sentiments exactly!