Le Mans 2019 - Ayse's Story
Page 10 - Thursday 13th June
' Third Qualifying - Rebellion's Second Sitting and Brief RLM Fame '
Having watched the first qualifying session from Mulsanne Corner yesterday we had already opted to watch the third and final session from Arnage/Indianapolis, a particular request from Allon. With just an hour in between the two sessions we made the dash for the cars in Parking Blanc as soon as the second session ended and set off in convoy with Tony. The traffic wasn't too bad at all until we got to Arnage corner which was very busy and despite having Arnage/Mulsanne car park tickets we were unable to get into the main car park, which was pretty annoying. As we have had to several times before, we had to drive down the road to the overflow car park and despite my efforts to park near the front, the car park marshals insisted that we go half way down the field to park. As it happens, that was actually helpful as we weren't allowed to leave the car park in the usual way and walk along the road. Instead we had a strange walk back to the corner through various fields. I can understand the thinking - it's often a nightmare there for drivers along that road, navigating around pedestrians seemingly totally devoid of any road safety sense, particularly when they've been on the beer all day! It made for quite a long walk though to get to the Arnage enclosure.
Having finally got in we made our way to the bank at Indianapolis just in time as the cars were released for the start of the session, and although I missed recording the build up to the first lap I did manage to get some video of the cars as they arrived at Indianapolis. We had our chairs with us again and settled down to watch the final two hours of qualifying. There were a lot of quick times coming in early as usual, although it was clear that the Toyotas were making no effort to beat their session two times, presumably confident that neither SMP nor Rebellion would get down into the 3:15's. SMP were close though and did top the times with a thoroughly excellent 3:16.159, with the #3 Rebellion close behind, the team having done a fantastic job in very little time to put a new engine in the car after the session two failure which enabled it to get 23 laps completed. Worryingly though, the #1 Rebellion suffered another engine failure after nine laps. As it happened, the car's engine died right in front of us at Indianapolis. The commentators at Radio Le Mans (which we were all listening to on our headphones of course), who at that time were Jonny Palmer and Paul Truswell, weren't sure what had happened to the Rebellion, so I quickly texted Paul (as regular readers will be aware, I have known Paul for many years), and I was rewarded with a mention on the commentary! Reminder to self - I must work out how to use Twitter by next year's race...
Qualifying came to an end at midnight and although Toyota hadn't really exerted themselves, the majority of the other top runners did set their best times in this session. In fact, of the 61* runners, 42 of them went faster in Q3 than in the other two sessions. It left the two Toyotas on the front row, with SMP third and fifth and Rebellion fourth and sixth. The Dragonspeed and ByKolles LMP1s were well off the pace. In LMP2, TDS, Dragonspeed and Signatech were very close at the top, separated by just half a second, while in GTE Aston Martin #95 seemed to come from nowhere to take the pole, followed by a Ford and a Corvette with the best Porsche surprisingly down in fourth. In GTEAm though, normal service was resumed with Dempsey-Proton first and second quickest with Gulf Racing making it a clean sweep of the first three places for Porsche.
*The 62nd entry, the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche being run for Krohn Racing sadly never turned a wheel again after its free practice shunt in Tracy's hands. Although we heard that a new chassis had been built up (and indeed we saw it being pushed down the pitlane to be re-scrutineered during the second session), it turned out that Krohn was unable to drive. The FIA had determined that he should refrain from driving for at least one week which unfortunately meant the withdrawal of the car and a disappointing end to the run of 13 consecutive starts at Le Mans for Tracy and his long-time racing partner Nic Jonsson.
With qualifying over we had the long walk back through the (very dark) fields to contend with but still managed to get back to the hotel before 1 am (which included finding a parking space!). After parking up I made a late call home and settled down for a good night's sleep.