Aysedasi's Le Mans

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Le Mans 2022

Le Mans 2023

Le Mans 2023 Ayse's Story

Page 1 - The Prologue



Well there's quite a lot to talk about in the prologue for this year's Le Mans.  So much so that I'm following the lead that I took last year by starting the story before I go to Le Mans.  As I begin, in almost exactly two weeks time we should be docking at Ouistreham ready for the drive down to Le Mans.  Some years the days really seem crawl by however it feels as though the year since last June has flown by and it's hard to believe that we're so close to Le Mans again.  It may just be that I found myself thinking about last year's trip for a long time afterwards and that has somehow 'shortened' the psychological waiting time....

At home we've been really busy.  When I left for France last year our 'new' garden was just about finished and since then we haven't really stopped.  We've had all new doors and windows fitted, new guttering, soffits and fascias, new remote electric garage doors (in British Racing Green!) and two brand new bathrooms.  The final major development is going on right now as our old and very tired conservatory has been ripped down and a brand new permanent extension is taking shape in it's place.  Sadly it won't be finished before I leave for Le Mans, but it should be nearing completion by the time I get back.  We're both looking forward to having it ready for the summer.  

On the personal side Jayne and I have got back to playing golf having joined the little club that is almost on our doorstep.  We've also started playing bowls, something our bowling neighbours urged us to try and which we're finding a lot more enjoyable than we expected.  Health wise we've both had a few issues since December, with asthma issues for Jayne and then bronchitis for me.  I then had two spells of back trouble followed by a severe allergic reaction to some cream that I put on my feet.  This has all been against a backdrop of digestion issues which (touch wood), with the surprisingly effective assistance of peppermint tea (!) have now resolved themselves.  Hurrah!  

Anyone who read my 2022 story will know that we had some issues to deal while we were there and the practical effect of those and the communications afterwards saw the 'disbanding' of Team DoT.  I was (and still remain) disappointed about how that came to pass, but life goes on.  My James, Lauren and I always intended to return to Le Mans in 2023 and Allon took a lifeboat from the sinking Team DoT ship to join our new vessel.  After some thought we decided to christen ourselves 'Team Crouton'.  I don't intend to offer a specific explanation for the choice of name here, however all four of us thought it rather apt bearing in mind some comments that followed last year's race!  I stole the logo of one of my favourite bands in order to create our own...

As a result of going our own way for Le Mans 2023 I volunteered to undertake the ticket acquisition.  We knew that with the Centenary celebrations and several big new teams competing in the top class the event would be really busy.  Little did we know though how the ACO would mess with our normal careful planning.  The background story to this is long and I'm not going to bore you with it, however in their wisdom the ACO decided to close Parking Blanc and Parking Bleu (as well as a number of camping areas) which meant that we needed to get our thinking caps on.  In addition the ACO also took the decision to open ticketing for entry tickets and grandstand seats first and then a month later for parking (and camping).  For years now I've sat in the front row of the Durand (T17) grandstand, that being James F's preference.  The seats are fine, give you plenty of footroom (when people aren't walking past) and offer a good view of the pits opposite.  However if you're keen on photography of the cars the view is poor as the debris fencing masks most of the track.  I've always lived with that as during practice and later in the race you can move further up.  The big problem though (and particularly last year) is the lack of marshaling of the stand by the ACO.  At the start of the race (and again at the end) there were a lot of people standing at the front and in the stairwells, many of whom probably shouldn't have been in the stand at all and it ruined the view for us sitting in the front row.  

Even while we were at the race last year we had we had decided not to sit in the front row again.  I wanted to be right up the top of the stand for the best view, so assuming that we would be able to select our seats when ticketing opened, I did a lot of research looking at seating plans (thanks to Brian at 1st Tickets) and photographs taken previously by Allon and myself including from the T34 stand opposite.  I ended up making a shortlist of locations, looking primarily at the rows of four seats with a stairway either side.  Entry and grandstand ticketing opened for ACO members on 18th October and I was ready and waiting and within a few minutes I managed to buy our entry tickets and four seats in T17 that would suit our purposes.  As a sign of things to come, the tickets for that grandstand sold out in a couple of hours.  In the weeks that followed it became clear that a lot of people had failed to get seats and many had also failed to get entry tickets as the ACO had set a very low initial number of tickets that would be available.  

Ticketing for camping and parking opened for members on 29th November and once again I was ready and waiting.  Thankfully we don't need camping (having already made sure that our booking was secure at our Le Mans 'home').  Knowing how quickly tickets sold out previously, I made the quick decision to buy parking tickets in Parking Rouge (now renamed 'Panorama' for no obvious reason).   I picked these because it's a car park I'm familiar with, having parked there for many years with the Tourists.  It wasn't until a few days later that the penny dropped that the tickets only covered Friday to Sunday.  When I looked back on the ACO site, I saw that there had been a ticket available for the Expo car park from Wednesday to Sunday.  I say 'had been' as by the time I went back, they had sold out.  In the end, I covered myself by buying a single ticket for Expo for both Wednesday and Thursday.  Much later, only a fortnight before leaving for Le Mans I managed to buy a full week Expo parking ticket on the ACO's resale site and I sold back the individual Wednesday and Thursday tickets.  

Last year's trip was the longest I had ever done - a full twelve days covering scrutineering and the Test Day.  I decided shortly after we got back that I would do a shorter trip this year.  Although I've always enjoyed the two days of scrutineering, and the Test Day at the Auberge was a fantastic experience, I didn't feel the need to do it again this year.  Instead I decided to synchronise my plans with James and Lauren by not leaving for France until the Monday.  We agreed we would catch the ferry at 8.15 am as although it means a reasonably early alarm call in the morning, it has the benefit of a 3 pm (French time) arrival in France allowing for a leisurely journey down to the hotel, leaving us plenty of time to set up 'camp' and then go out for a meal.  

So, as I write this, I'm in the process of collecting together all my gear ready for the trip.  I don't have any really significant new purchases this year, just a bit of fine tuning here and there.  The only item I've invested in is a 'Bip & Go' to get me through the French péages without having to leap out of the car all the time!  As well as me in my car, James will be bringing his Clio RS Sport over again, although I imagine that once we are there at Le Mans, other than for the drive around the circuit on Tuesday, I will do most of the driving with the four of us squeezed in.    So, the next thing you should read about is our trip over to La Belle France on Monday 5th June!























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