Le Mans 2019 - Ayse's Story
Page 9 - Thursday 13th June
' Second Qualifying - Rebellion's First Lunch'
Despite the fact that I had no desire to wake up early after getting to bed late I was awake by 7 am, but managed to doze on for a while before I kicked the cafetiere into life. As I had squeezed my car into the only available parking space when we got back from Mulsanne, I nipped downstairs and moved it to a better place. After the normal morning preparation, we awaited Allon's arrival. He had messaged the group earlier to say that he was en route, expecting to arrive at about 10 am. James, Lauren, Tony and I went up to the bar for coffee, with croissants this time and when we returned, chauffeur Sean had delivered the final member of Team DoT for 2019. Allon had joined the party!
There was nothing of huge interest to us going on early at the circuit (free practice for the RTLMs and Ferrari Challenge free practice as well) so we didn't bother to get to the circuit early. We drove in at leisurely pace at about 1 pm. The weather had been patchy but the forecast suggested that there was little chance of rain for the rest of the day which would be good. We had another easy run in to the circuit and were soon parked up again in Parking Blanc and after heading in we 'did' the shops behind the grandstands again, principally to give Allon the chance to survey the potential shopping bargains.
After walking up to the Dunlop Curve area we crossed into the Village to take a look at the shops there. We went into the Porsche shop to find that they were selling last years 'Pink Pig' and 'Rothmans' t-shirts, but as I recall for significantly more than last years bargain €19 price...
After a good look around (noticing the complete impossibility of getting anywhere near the pits) James, Lauren and I went up into the T34 grandstand to check out our seats. As I mentioned earlier, the lure of another year in T34 had been just too much for me to resist this year, having not sat there since 2010. I had bought front row seats at the end of a block, just a couple of blocks along from pit out, roughly above where the Audi pit garages always used to be. I knew of course that if it turned out warm and sunny on raceday we would fry in our own juices sitting on those seats, however the forecasts suggested that this was unlikely. I was very pleased with the seats which gave a fantastic view of the start/finish straight and the pitlane with no fencing to get in the way of my camera lens. For the ordinary spectator at Le Mans, the view is as good as you'll get anywhere on the circuit. The only real problem now with T34 is access. You can only get into the grandstand from the entrance right down the other end of the stand near pit in, which results in quite a walk to get to and from as well as not having the other obvious advantages of T17. Still, I was really looking forward to watching the build-up to the start and the first few hours of the race from there.
After our visit to T34 time was moving on and as there was the first of the two Road to Le Mans races due to start at 5.30 (the first race of the Le Mans week), we left the stand and headed back to the outside of the circuit to take up seats again at the top of T17 to watch the race, indulging in ice lollies in the by now bright sunshine. I actually have no recollection at all of that race which lasted for just under an hour, leaving half an hour or so before the start of the second qualifying session for the Le Mans cars.
Prior to the start of the session we had the unusual sight of one of the Toyotas being wheeled up the pitlane to the scrutineering area. I'm not sure why the car needed to be re-scrutineered, but after Conway had had an accident in #7 with one of the LMP2 cars in first qualifying, we assumed that the car had been built up from a new tub. Toyota making absolutely certain that the car was absolutely perfect. In fact, as I recall, the Dempsey-Proton team also re-scrutineered the Krohn car.
Once again, the two Toyotas came out gunning for pole at the very start of the session with both cars getting into the 3:15s on their second lap, while there was little traffic around to slow them down. The #7 was half a second quicker than the sister car, with the #11 SMP a full second further back (but still a remarkable enough time). Sadly Rebellion had a shocker as the #3 car lunched its engine only four laps into the session. (You can see the video of the car being pushed back in). In LMP2 the #38 JCDC Oreca was just pipped to the post by the similar #31 Dragonspeed car which was less than three seconds slower than their LMP1 BR1. The works Porsches were again to the fore in GTEPro, their first three cars only split by the #63 Corvette. For a change though in GTEAm a Ferrari was fastest, the Spirit of Race 488 setting the best time in that class.