Le Mans 2019 - Ayse's Story
Page 5 - Monday 10th June
'Non-Sun at Scrutineering and Playing Cowboys'
The weather overnight on Sunday/Monday left a lot to be desired and I was woken by torrential rain at about 3 am. Bearing in mind that we had a full day to come at scrutineering in the town I was hoping that we might get all of the rain out of the way before we set off in the morning. I woke up again about 7 am but dozed on for a while before getting up to make coffee at 7.40. I then pottered about getting stuff ready for the day. We had agreed to leave for the town around 10 am. As the time got to 9.30 I thought I'd better check to see if James and Lauren were up and about however my Whatsapp messages to them were met with silence. Eventually at 10 am I knocked on their door to discover that they were both still fast asleep! But they were soon up and about in record time and the five of us assembled in the car park ready for the relatively short drive into the town.
After another easy journey in we were soon parked up again underneath the Place de la République and took the lift up straight into the scrutineering area where the new JMW Ferrari was already receiving the attention of the officials. Thankfully it was now dry, for the moment at least, although none of us expected it to stay that way all day. We walked around the square as we had yesterday and took up our familiar positions in the 'arrivals' road. Scrutineering had already been under way for over an hour and a half and some of the early arrivals, including Inter Europol (which I managed to call Euro Interpol for most of the week) and Algarve Pro were already emerging to be loaded up for the return to the circuit.
As there was a lull in the proceedings around noon we thought we would go and have lunch early. There was little hesitation about the venue, it was going to be the Galand again of course. With the weather beginning to close in again and with no seating available for the five of us outside we luckily managed to find a table inside - the first time I'd eaten inside the restaurant. Of course our food choices were as adventurous as ever, croque madame once more with the standard accompaniments.... While we were eating we were joined at the next table by a large group of Americans who I originally assumed to be just a party of racegoers but when we engaged them in conversation they turned out to be mechanics and technicians who had all come over and had been placed with various teams. They were a really nice bunch and despite an obviously healthy rivalry between them, the camaraderie was great to see. The decision to eat inside the restaurant turned out to be a good one. Although thus far the weather had been better than first thing this morning the heavens opened while we were eating in exactly the same fashion as they did in the same place last year, but this time we managed to stay dry! Luckily, by the time we paid up and left the restaurant the rain had stopped and we walked around to see which cars had arrived ready to go into scrutineering after the lunch break between 12 noon and 1 pm.
The two BMWs were due to be the first cars in after lunch and were already in line awaiting their turn when we got around the corner from the restaurant. As was the G-Drive Oreca, now rebranded as an 'Aurus' and the TDS Oreca. We had also looked forward to the arrival of the beautifully liveried SMP BR1 LMP1s, the only LMP1s still to go through after the Dragonspeed version and the ByKolles earlier in the day. We continued to watch the cars both arrive and leave, indulging in croissants as an afternoon snack around 4 pm before recording the arrival of the FIVE Ford GTs and the end of the day. We were particularly keen to see the Keating 'Wynns' car in its splendid purple colour scheme and it really did look the business. By 4.30 though we had had our fill of scrutineering. It wasn't cold but being constantly on our feet was draining. We made our way back again to the cars in the car park for the journey back to the hotel, arriving at about 5.15.
So, that was scrutineering over for another year. In many ways, a repeat performance of the experience over the last seven years, however as a 'lead-in' to the Le Mans week, I always find it a really enjoyable and for the most part, thoroughly relaxing start to the annual Le Mans experience. The next decision on the agenda though was where to eat that evening. (As regular readers will be aware, the two essential subjects of my story each year are cars and food....). The initial thought was just to head back to Del Arte however on the run back to the hotel from town James and Lauren had spotted a restaurant that took their fancy, only just up the road on the run towards Auchan. It was called 'The Old Wild West' and promised barbecue-type fare which was much to their taste. So we agreed to go for it. Whatever happened it would be a new experience, as although the franchise is established in Europe (France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland) and also Australia, it hasn't made it to the UK yet.
It turned out to be a very good choice with a variety of burgers and grills. I had chicken while James had a burger and James F, Ramona and Lauren each got stuck into a huge plate of ribs. A 'Coupe Gourmand' for dessert rounded off a surprisingly good meal in a nice 'wild west' style atmosphere, with balloons and hats and all! There was one amusing thing for me over my drink. As some will know, I no longer drink alcohol (or only very rarely) and I asked if they had any non-alcoholic beer. 'Yes' they said and brought me a bottle which turned out to be a strange lemon flavoured concoction which I've never seen before and, quite frankly, hope to never see again....
Rather like the Galand earlier in the day, while we were in the restaurant the rain had hammered down (better that than a few hours before of course) and we got back to the hotel at much the same time as the previous two evenings in good time for me to FaceTime Jayne at home. I then watched a bit of the Womens World Cup football before turning in for the night as part of my concerted 'sleep storage' project...