Aysedasi's Le Mans

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Le Mans 2022

Le Mans 2023

Le Mans 2023 Ayse's Story

Page 3 - Tuesday 6th June - The Drive, The Museum and Fun with Feuilletté aux Quetsches!



It did get cooler during the night but by the morning it was obvious that we were in for much more of the same weather for our first full day in France. As I always expect on these trips I was awake by 6:00 am and tried to sleep on but by 7:00, after watching the rabbits in the back garden, I’d given up and put the coffee on. After a refreshing shower I Facetimed Jane and got dressed. Before going to bed the night before we agreed to meet outside at 9:00 for a trip to the Feuillette for a spot of breakfast which would be followed by our annual drive around the circuit. Breakfast was grand and the three of us chewed the cud over my conversation with James F the night before, however having done so we ‘parked’ it there as none of us wanted to dwell on it and we turned our attention instead to enjoying the rest of our Le Mans week; as Allon had said "Marchons, Oui, marchons les Croutons!”


We left the Feuillette at 10:00 o'clock and drove back via the dual carriage way to join the circuit at Tertre Rouge. From there we made our customary brief stop at the first chicane, then Mulsanne Corner and on to Indianapolis where the rumble strip was duly tested and we parked on the tarmac run off.  After my less than satisfactory experience with two different dash cams in 2019 and 2022 I had bought a simple holder for my dashboard and set my phone up to record the journey.  After a quick look at the first couple of videos this seemed to have been fairly successful. It was an absolutely glorious day for our circuit drive, and we undertook it in a very leisurely manner, as we had nothing particularly planned for the rest of the day. James jumped in his car for a drive up to Mulsanne Corner and drove off, so Lauren joined me and we did the same. I had brain fade however at the Mulsanne roundabout and took the exit back down the straight by mistake, so we had a 10 minute detour by which time James was wondering where we had got to! After leaving Indianapolis we drove on down to the entry to the Porsche Curves noticing that there were a lot of cars queued there. I established from a Brit in the rearmost car that the queue was for a briefing in the circuit  of the Chief Marshals. We did briefly wonder if we could blag our way in but thought better of it. Instead we drove off in search of somewhere to park at the circuit. 

We both had our Panorama parking stickers so we headed in that direction. I knew from many years experience where the Panorama car park was as this had formerly been known as the Rouge car park which the Tourists had always used. When we got there however, the road sign for the car park was mysteriously pointing in the opposite direction. After a brief detour around a housing estate we headed back to the road to the car park but found it empty with all of the gates locked. I knew the tickets weren't valid as such until Thursday but had understood that the car park would be open and free to all from Tuesday.  It appeared that I had been mistaken (or more likely the information given out was wrong). I had the Expo parking ticket but only for one car so we went off in search of 'Gratuit' (free) parking.  The signs gradually took us further and further away from the circuit until it became obvious that the only free parking was going to be at the airfield, with a very long walk in the heat over to the track.


On that journey James and I became separated in the traffic and I eventually caught up with him and found him parked on the grass verge just opposite the Feuillette on the outskirts of Arnage village. As he was content to leave his car there we drove in mine back to find the Expo car park. We knew it had been open as James F had said that he parked there earlier in the week. Thankfully it was open and we had no difficulty parking, in fact it was absolutely splendid as we were able to park under cover, shaded from the sun with only a five minute walk to the main circuit entrance. We immediately realised what a valuable last minute purchase the extra ticket had been but for the rest of the week I regretted not snapping up two of them for both of our cars. We walked down to the entrance only to discover to our surprise that the circuit was closed until 1:00 pm, so we decided to visit the museum instead.


I had known for some time that this year there was to be a very special ‘Centenary' exhibition in the museum and after queuing for 10 minutes or so we were in. We were familiar with the museum as we had visited it many times in the past and this year the exhibits had been substantially rearranged and now consisted of many former Le Mans cars including a number of past winners. We spent a fabulous half hour or so wandering around marvelling at D-Types, GT40s, Porsche 917s and some beautiful Ferraris before reaching the (really rather dull) display of countless Audis and modern Toyotas. I had fervently hoped that there would be a Toyota TS020 (aka GT-One) on display, but I was sadly disappointed. Although the TS020 hadn’t been a winner of the race, over all the years it was by far their best looking car and I thought that this was still a missed trick by Toyota.


When we left the museum there were big queues already in the ACO shop so we gave it a miss and walked over to the main circuit entrance. We were very keen to get in and collect our members’ wristbands now while things were still relatively quiet. Fortunately the gates opened 10 minutes early and we quickly walked down to the ACO reception area behind the grandstands. There was only a small queue and we were soon booked in, receiving in addition our members packs, including programme, lanyard, poster and other goodies in a special centenary bag.


There was one other very important thing to do at this point; on the wall behind the grandstand is a display of plaques with members’ names showing when they joined the ACO. James and Lauren had given me a plaque as a gift. I had already received my facsimile plaque but I was keen to spot my name on the wall along with many other members including a large number of current and former Le Mans drivers. I soon found it on the very top row alongside such luminaries as Kazuki Nakajima, Marcel Fässler and Justin Bell. Lauren did the honours with a number of photos of the moment. I was really chuffed!

As there was nothing scheduled to happen at the circuit today there was little point in checking out our seats in the grandstand. We did toy with the idea of getting something to eat in the ACO area behind the grandstand, however as James’ car was back near the Feuillette we decided instead to head back there for lunch. Lauren and I had the gruyere and bacon lardon baguettes while James had a chicken curry fougasse! He and I were unable to resist the temptation of a red fruit panna cotta to round off the meal.


We set off back to the hotel at 2:40 pm, stopping off at Auchan for the first time to stock up with plenty of water and other drinks as well as some snacks, arriving back at the hotel at 3:30. 

It was now the chance to relax for a few hours during which I Facetimed Jayne and transferred my photos from today from my phone to my laptop. We then discussed dinner and chose the Hippopotamus Grill just down the road where James F, Tony, Tim and I had eaten a couple of times last year. In the meantime I watched my videos of our circuit drive.  I was really pleased with the videos of the drive down to Indianapolis, however unfortunately when I replaced my phone in the holder for the drive back to Mulsanne Corner I must have moved the holder down slightly as for the later videos it was focusing more on the bonnet of my car rather than the road ahead, so those videos aren't quite as good although they’re OK as a record of the drive nonetheless.


We went out for our meal at 6:30, just as the restaurant opened for the evening and what a splendid affair it turned out to be! Although we only had burgers they were really very good, as good as I had had anywhere for a long time. Equally good was the crème brûlée afterwards but it was Lauren's dessert which really made the evening. Our waiter had initially been a little standoffish; he obviously realised that we were Brits and his English was typically pretty good so he helped us with explanations of items on the menu. When it came to the desserts Lauren chose the feuilleté aux quetsches, a pastry affair with plums from Alsace, but it was the name of the dessert that was the cause of much fun. Lauren tried hard with the pronunciation, but the waiter wasn't having any of it - he was not going to be put off.  He insisted that she got it absolutely right! Naturally enough he described my pronunciation of this dessert as 'parfait'... This was the first time in all of my trips to France that my ability with the French language had ever been so described!  All of this really cracked the ice and the waiter continued on very good form so much so that we ended up giving him a ludicrously large tip, but we all felt that he really deserved it.


We were back at the hotel by 8:15 and sat outside making plans for the rest of the week Allon was due to arrive tomorrow but wouldn't be dropped off by Sean until 10:00 am at the earliest. We knew he would then need some time to unpack and freshen up but we were keen to get into the circuit quite early, so we knew that at some stage we would need to return to the hotel to pick him up.


So, after Facetiming Jayne again it was time for bed for me. It was still very hot, hotter I think than the day before but I got off to sleep pretty quickly. It had been a really good day. Yes the Panorama parking situation had been a nuisance but the rest of the day was a lot of fun, definitely a day to remember.























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