Le Mans 2014 - Ayse's Story
Page 17 - Sunday
We made good time back to the hotel, a journey during which I played my standard 'nodding dog' routine, arriving at about 8.30. We decided that on this occasion we weren't going to rush and gave ourselves a full hour of 'recovery' time. I spent a goodly portion of that under a hot shower getting properly warm again after so many hours of standing still in absolutely perishing cold, before sitting down on my bed admiring the lovely warm jumper and coat that had been sitting there all night in the wardrobe....
We got back to the circuit at about 11 am. Of course, I haven't yet mentioned the fact that we had already suffered the crushing disappointment of the retirement of the #7 Toyota which had led the race for so long but retained the (admittedly rather pessimistic) hope that Porsche could somehow keep up the challenge to yet another Audi victory. We spent a while standing in the now very warm sunshine at the Ford Chicane, the weather determined to have yet another laugh at my expense after the rigours of the night.
It was then time to head back the our seats in the grandstand. James graciously gave up his seat to Nane as we waited for the last hour and a half of the race to pass by so that we could applaud yet another Audi success at Le Mans. I spent about half an hour of that in search of some lunch, ending up with a rather unpleasant chicken salad baguette which I feared had probably been well past it's sell-by date before the race ever started....
But all good things must come to an end and 3 pm soon arrived. This had been Toyota's year. We knew that. They knew that. I suspect even Porsche and Audi knew that, but somehow they had gifted the win to Audi - such generosity! I took a few photos but it wasn't until I got home that I realised to my consternation that not only did I not have any photos of the cars crossing the finishing line, but the video I thought I'd taken of the moment had disappeared as well. Shame that.
Tony, Nane and I made a hasty getaway from our seats, joining James and Allon back at the car in the garage blanc just 10 minutes later. We thought we'd made the best choice turning right out of the car park to head back via the 'country' route but we got stuck in some fairly heavy traffic, hindered rather than assisted by a disinterested and completely useless gendarme, arriving back at the hotel at 4.10, with our 2013 return record very much intact.
I was comprehensively exhausted, as I always am at this time and unlike James and Tony, I hadn't had to drive back from the circuit. In all my years of going to Le Mans, I have always been really grateful for the determination of the drivers, both Ian and Martyn in my Tourist days and James (and Tony) for the last 5 years.
So it was back to that wonderful shower for a change of clothes and a couple of hours rest - but definitely no attempt to sleep - before we all rendezvous'd outside the hotel again for a trip out to our final evening meal at Le Mans. And of course, it just had to be Del Arte again! James, Tony, Nane, Allon and I were joined by Julie and Andy, and Walter, Ton and their group were also in the restaurant. James and I achieved a new personal best of FOUR Pizza Maroccos in just eight days at Le Mans - but can we beat that in 2015?!
It was a lovely evening, a great way to round off the week, despite everyone's tiredness. Before long, we were back at the hotel for our last night at Le Mans and some very welcome sleep....