Aysedasi's Le Mans

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Le Mans 2019 Ayse's Story

Page 7 - Wednesday 12th June

 ' Free Practice - Let's Watch Cars!'



The arrival of Wednesday of Le Mans week of course heralds the first track action at the circuit but that doesn't begin until 4 pm so there was still plenty of time to kill.  My morning routine panned out in much the same way as every day at Le Mans and there is a limit to how many times you can describe getting up, getting showered and dressed and making coffee!  However the prospect of cars on the track meant that it was also time to prep the camera gear, charge batteries and make sure that all of the various electronic gizmos I have were ready for use.  The previous evening we had tentatively agreed to rendezvous at 9.30 to head up to the bar for the first time this year, however James F and Ramona let me know that they wouldn't make it as he wanted to rest up in view of the fairly long day on our feet which lay ahead.  So So James, Lauren, Tony  and I set off for the bar in the hope of breakfasting however sadly the bar had no croissants and the boulangère round the corner was shut so we just had some good strong coffee or coke before heading up to Le Brioche D'Oree at Auchan for our bread and pastry fix...

We were back at the hotel at 11 am and decided to make out way in to the circuit at 1 pm.  Sadly the weather was uninspiring.  It had already been raining for quite a while and by the time we drove in and parked up in Parking Blanc it was raining pretty heavily.  So we got our wet weather gear on and made our way into the circuit, going through our usual routine of visiting the shops under the grandstands, or at least the ones that were open, as much to escape from the rain as anything else.  I did make a small purchase though.  We're always drawn to the colour and sepia prints by Francois Bruere that have been displayed and sold at the circuit (and in the town at scrutineering) for many years.  They had a nice print of the 1957 winning Jaguar so I bought the postcard of it to go with my model that James and Lauren had bought for me yesterday.  

It was about 5-10 minutes later that I had a heart-stopping moment a few shops up the line.  My mind suddenly twigged that something was missing.  I had been carrying my large 100-400mm lens in its own case as I had bought an 18-135mm lens a couple of months before both for when I needed something more versatile and also for video and that lens was on the camera in my rucksack.  I realised I didn't have it with me any more....   Its actually quite an old lens, one of the original push-pull zooms but it had still cost me a pretty penny second-hand.  If it was gone, not only did I have the unwanted expense of finding and buying a replacement but I would have nothing longer than 135mm to shoot with for the rest of the trip, which would make photography of the cars on circuit quite a task.  I retraced my steps, checking in several shops without success and I had just about given up hope, assuming that someone had picked it up and thought their luck was in, when James F mentioned that he had seen something he hadn't recognised in the Bruere shop where I'd stopped to buy my postcard.  I hurried back down there and was massively relieved to find that the people in the shop had picked it up (from where I must have put it down when I made the purchase), and put it behind the till.  I considered myself very lucky that someone hadn't picked it up and made off with it.  Phew!  For the rest of my time at the circuit I kept the big lens on the camera (or in the bag if I was using the other lens) and I wasn't going to carry it separately again in case I was absent-minded enough to lose it a second time....

Fortunately the gloomy and wet weather soon took a turn for the better and not only did the rain stop but the sun came out, meaning that I started to boil in my rain gear.  We had to sign in with the ACO for our wristbands to give us access to the members' areas including T17 (the Durand Grandstand) from where we intended to watch the free practice session.  We started queuing at about 2.50 pm and got signed in about 20 minutes later.  We went straight into T17 having bought baguettes for lunch in the cafe inside.  It was great to back back there again and to aid my photography we sat right at the top of the stand in the back row waiting for the free practice session to begin.  Most of the cars were in an advanced state of preparation over in the pits and they soon started to be pushed out onto the apron.  The action commenced on the dot of 4 pm and soon the track was filled with cars getting to grips with the still damp track.  

It came as no surprise when the #7 Toyota set the initial pace, Kobayashi clocking 3:18.091 with the #11 SMP second, nearly two seconds adrift with the #3 Rebellion a few hundredths slower.  IDEC Sport led the LMP2s about 10 seconds down on the leading LMP1s while Porsche led both GTEPro and GTEAm.  Sadly a big accident befell the Krohn Porsche (being run by Dempsey-Proton) after just 8 laps and it remained to be seen if the car could be repaired and indeed whether Tracy would be fit enough to drive it again.  

We had a substantial dousing of rain as well during this session (which I only remembered when I was reviewing the photos), which slowed everything down and made sure that the times set when the track was dry would not be beaten.  

























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