Le Mans 2015 - Ayse's Story
Page 6 - Wednesday 10th June
Look at all that Sand, Porsche!
We arrived at Arnage just before 9 pm and parked in the nearest car park, just a minute or so walk from the Arnage entrance. Due to our early arrival we were able to have a leisurely dinner, which just had to be a sandwich Americaine merguez for me!
We had brought our chairs with us and set up at the top of the bank near to the big screen. This is one of my favourite points of the weekend. I love the atmosphere at Indianapolis/Arnage, especially as the cars set off for that first lap. You can hear them approaching from miles away, all the way down the Mulsanne and then from Mulsanne Corner before they burst into sight from Indianapolis. It's something I like to capture on video as one of the real highlights! It was really good - we were well-fed, comfortable in our chairs (the rain had long gone by now) and it was just the perfect place to be.
We watched the full session from here, but in truth, all of the explosive action occurred in the first two laps for Porsche. I hadn't even got my headphones on to start listening to the commentary, but when I saw James and Tony exchanging incredulous looks I knew that something spectacular was happening. Porsche had of course turned the wick right up from the outset, setting out their stall immediately with an astonishing 3m 16.887 lap by Neel Jani in the #18 car. Although an Audi did eventually get into the high 19's, I think we all realised at that point that the battle for pole in LMP1 was already pretty much done and dusted.
The disappointments, even at this early stage in the proceedings had to be the two Japanese teams, Toyota and Nissan. After clearly being the fastest car last year the Toyotas were left struggling to even get near their 2014 times, while the Audis and Porsches had already totally eclipsed Toyota's pole time from last year by a massive margin. Nissan by contrast, were uncompetitive, struggling with a brand new car - and a brand new concept - with little (if any) hybrid power available and which appeared to have all the handling of a house brick. By the end of the session all three Nissans were propping up LMP1, beaten by the leading LMP2 car, their best effort over 20 seconds off of Porsche and even 7 seconds behind the slower of the two Rebellions. I'm honest enough to admit that I really enjoyed seeing the Nissans out there as they brought something completely different to the race, but even at this early stage it was looking like a pretty grim uphill battle for them to take anything at all from the experience, no matter how well Darren Cox talked up their performance.
The session ended with Porsche 1-2-3, Audi 4-5-6 and Toyota 7-8. And the overwhelming feeling was that even though we still had another 4 hours of qualifying to go tomorrow, this order of things probably wasn't going to change much, if at all.
You'll see that there are only a limited number of photographs from the session. I didn't take any still pictures at all while there was still some light, preferring instead to concentrate on some video. Rather embarrassingly, it turned out that the one piece of video I shot on my iPhone was much better than that I took on my camcorder! As always though, I couldn't resist the temptation to try a few shots with the camera once it was dark. The failure rate, as always, was virtually 100%, but I've included a few shots for the sake of it. As I've probably said far too many times before already, it is nigh-on impossible to take decent shots as a spectator from between Indianapolis and Arnage (unless you have an insanely fast lens and an insanely huge bank balance with which to buy one) as the fencing there is so obtrusive. You're left shooting at distance at the cars as the power away from Arnage corner itself.
At the end of the session we made our way back to the car for the journey back to base, getting there at about 1 am.