Le Mans 2019 - Ayse's Story
Page 8 - Wednesday 12th June
' First Qualifying at Mulsanne Corner'
We stayed in T17 for the whole of the free practice session, a full four hours which seemed to fly by. As soon as the session finished we headed to the cars in Parking Blanc to drive out to Mulsanne Corner, where we arrived at 8.30, in good time for the obligatory sandwich Americain merguez and the start of free practice for the Road to Le Mans cars. As I've said once or twice (or more!) before, I think the RTLM event is a really good support to the main race. The LMP3s look and sound the part and there is more variety in the GT3 cars.
We were well established in our camping chairs on the bank overlooking Mulsanne Corner ready for the always exciting emergence of the Le Mans cars for the first qualifying session for two hours from 10 pm. This was of course my first Le Mans with my new camera, the Canon EOS 80D, which I'd bought primarily for the video capability, although I confess that I was struggling to get to grips with the best settings for that. I was still finding that my trusty iPhone was producing decent results. Thankfully the rain had stayed away and by now it was actually sunny, if not particularly warm. I also received a useful lesson from Lauren on how to take panoramic shots on my iPhone!
10pm soon rolled around and the cars were released from the pits and we sat there waiting for the sound of the them turning around Tertre Rouge and motoring down the Mulsanne. Sadly as now seems to have become the norm, the wretched commentator babbled over the public address all the way through those magical opening moments of the session...
The session quickly settled in with the fastest times coming in the opening seven laps. All of the LMP1s except the #3 Rebellion and the #8 Toyota set their best laps very quickly, as we now come to expect. Kobayashi again headed the time sheets with a 3:17.161 but the #17 SMP was only half a second shy of that mark. The #3 Rebellion rounded off the top three, but sadly the #1 would have all of its times deleted due to some kind of fuel flow infringement. Dragonspeed were at the top of the LMP2 times while the #67 Ford was fastest in GTEPro. Dempsey-Proton were again fastest in Am with their #88 Porsche but unsurprisingly there was no sign of the #99 Krohn car after its free practice shunt.
The session ended at midnight and we packed up our chairs for the trudge back to the car park. I had bought three new chairs for Le Mans this year and they were a big success. They were slightly larger than the old ones and much more comfortable. We had a good clear run back to the hotel, arriving at 00.45 and were surprised (after last year's parking dramas at the hotel) to even find a parking space! Then it was a quick wash and clean of the teeth and off to bed to get ready to do it all again tomorrow.