Aysedasi's Le Mans

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Le Mans 2022

Le Mans 2023

Le Mans 2023 Ayse's Story

Page 4 - Wednesday 7th June - Time To Investigate The New Bridge 



So we were two days down and we had arrived at the first day of track action. We agreed the night before on an early start at 8:00 o'clock, our (my) intention being to beat the worst of the traffic. This would become a common theme for the week for me although in truth, the mornings were never really an issue, traffic wise. I had slept pretty well and by 7:00 am I was up, showered, coffee’d and had my camera bag sorted for the day. Allon confirmed that his ferry had docked and his ETA for arrival here was 10:30 at the earliest. Our plan remained to travel in early and at some point during the day to return to pick him up. After the uncertainty yesterday regarding the Panorama car park we agreed to just take my car in.


After my morning FaceTime with Jayne I met James and Lauren outside and at 8:00 o'clock we set off for our de rigueur breakfast at the Feuillette. Having satisfied our hunger and thirst with coffee, coke and croissants we headed into the circuit and in just 15 minutes we were parked in Expo, having met almost zero traffic. We walked into the circuit with no queues at at the gate either and by 9:10 am we were in our seats at the top of the T17 (Durand) grandstand. 

Having invested so much time and energy prior to the opening of ticketing into the decision about the best seating for us I was very pleased with the choice that I’d made.  We had of course sat in these seats several times in previous years during practice and qualifying as the ticketing for specific seats only applies for Saturday and Sunday. Our seats were directly opposite what we had always known as the Audi pits but this time we had the Ferrari hypercars in front of us with Glickenhaus right next door. I had sat in T17 nine times including this year but on each of those occasions we had sat in the front row for the race, so this was the first time we actually had seats much higher up at the top. I had always assumed that our choice of seats in the past had been down to James F’s personal preference, however when we had dinner on Monday evening he really surprised us all by saying that this year he had seats in the Raccordement grandstand.  We sat there in 2017 when he couldn't get seats in T17 (and I also sat in there long ago in 1992).  What surprised me even more was that he actually said it was his favourite grandstand. I confess that I couldn't believe my ears, as while that grandstand has a good view of the circuit, the seats are very uncomfortable. They're small and tightly packed with very little foot room and they have no backs so you find yourself leaning against the knees of the person behind with your knees against the person in front! Unless you are sitting high up, the debris fencing makes photography almost impossible.  And sitting there of course, you also miss out on the cafe and the other facilities in T17.  Suffice to say, we were happy with our choice...


We arrived in T17 just as the Porsche Carrera Cup cars were starting their practice session. This was followed by practice for the Ferrari Challenge cars at 10:15. The grandstand was virtually empty - there were probably no more than 15 to 20 people in the whole stand. 

As the session came to an end at 11:00 o'clock with half an hour to wait until the practice for the Road to Le Mans cars we decided to go for a walk and investigate the new Porsche bridge crossing the track down towards the end of the Porsche Curves. James and I were peckish again so we bought the Le Mans staple, emmental and jambon baguettes to munch on the way down there. There were quite a few people about for this early stage of the event but it was far from busy and we were soon down crossing the bridge. At the top the bridge was decorated with large poster boards depicting famous Porsches from past Le Mans which were rather splendid. Just over the bridge was a bar with a terrace on top which afforded a nice view of the RTLM cars that had just come out for their session. We moved along to access some kind of hospitality area but typically just as I got my camera out, we were asked to move out of this private area. We left and walked on down towards the last part of the Porsche Curves where we were able to stand on the roof of the single story buildings alongside the karting circuit. The view wasn't bad at all, we were above the fencing which was good for photos but some distance from the track itself.  

While we were there we noticed that the #9 land train was running past regularly and we established that this train travelled back and forth between the karting circuit and the bottom of the village so at 12.10 pm we decided to save ourselves a walk in the ever increasing heat and caught the train.  We then walked back up through the village, checking out a few stalls on the way before coming across the Sotheby's marquee in which the cars which were to be auctioned later in the week were on display.  There were some fantastic cars there, most of which also had fantastic auction estimates!  We spent a very enjoyable twenty minutes there looking around before moving on to walk around the rather less inspiring 'Manufacturers Village' (although it was good to see the 'mock-up' of the BMW hypercar and a Toyota in the original - and far better - white and blue livery).  

After another brief look at some more stalls we went back to T17 via the underpass near to the main entrance, pausing to have a quick look in the Spark model shop.  I still have a hankering for a 1:18 model of my favourite Le Mans car, the Toyota TS020 (aka GT-One) but the prices are always prohibitive and they didn't have any anyway.  We arrived back at our seats in T17 at 1.40 pm in good time for our first sight of the Le Mans cars out on track as they came out for their first free practice session at 2 pm.  This was now a three hour session reduced from the four hours that it had been for many years.  We watched the whole of the session from our seats and it was full of drama with a shunt for the #8 Toyota and later a very nasty accident for the D'Station Aston when it was t-boned on the run down to Tertre Rouge by the Tower Motorsports Oreca, bringing out the red flags.  Thankfully both drivers were uninjured but both cars ended up needing new chassis.  The Toyotas headed up the timesheets at the end of the session with Cadillac and Porsche in close attendance and the Ferraris surprisingly well down the order.  Jota and Cool Racing had nearly two seconds on their LMP2 rivals while the GMB Aston Martin was fastest in GTEAm. 

We were conscious that after the end of this session at 5 pm there was a two-hour gap until the hour long qualifying session at 7 pm and then another two hours until the second free practice session at 10 pm, so this was the ideal time to nip back to the hotel to pick Allon up and also to collect our camping chairs and some warmer clothes, just in case the temperature dropped considerably as it often does in the later evenings.   























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