Le Mans liveblog: Audi uber alles
Audi owns Le Mans? Looks that way from up here in the hospitality area...
OK, I've totally sold out and am blogging from Audi's monolithic hospitality building. Look, I've done a lap of Le Mans (or so it feels) on foot and in the rain. I think I've earned some VIP treatment!
A busy, lairy tram ride to the wrong side of the track and a long, damp tramp back to the Audi hotel later I found myself back where I needed to be and signing on for Audi hospitality. And then it hit me. Audi really does seem to have bought Le Mans lock, stock and barrel.
It's the Audi way of course, the same whichever field it goes racing in. And it's hard not to be over-awed. How they must hate that DeltaWing thing, coming here and stealing all the attention...
Looking back through the historic list of winners in the Audi pamphlet it's easy to identify other periods when certain marques dominated - Bentley four years in a row in the late 20s, Ferrari six years straight from 1960, Ford four in a row after that and, of course, Porsche in the 80s. Was it the same when these guys ruled the Le Mans roost? I don't know but I'm sure all those serial winners had similar swagger in their respective eras.
And on that reflective note it's time for another soggy tramp, this time back to the home comforts of the PH campsite...
OK, so our meets are usually on Sundays. But normal rules are suspended for Le Mans and an otherwise unused field nearby the Porsche Curves is, for the moment, PH territory.
As with any UK Sunday Service the best thing is the sheer variety of metal on display. We've had a couple of converted Ford Granada funeral limos alongside Ferraris, Nobles and other supercars. And loads more besides.
Camping has come on in the last few years, the PH site having both lovely organic food from Laverstoke Farm and wifi, meaning the editorial team is both fuelled and able to put stories up live and direct from the site! The sound of rain on canvas in the night wasn't too promising but it's thankfully stopped now and our neighbours with the Murcielago have been joined by some mates with a very nice E28 M5. Plenty of other cool stuff parked up here in the PH campsite too, much of which we'll be hoping to see later on at our Friday service.
Before that there's a whole lot of tyre kicking to be done, my Le Mans introduction to include - on Stuart's recommendation - attendance of The British Welcome and then of course our own Friday Service. Pics to come in due course so stay tuned!
So, we're installed in our campsite but while the rest of the crew got stuck into the traditional Le Mans refreshment I headed off along various back roads - most of them leading to the track and therefore closed it seemed - in an effort to meet up with the guys from Ginetta.
They'll hopefully be bringing a few cars along to our Friday Service tomorrow, the G60 looking good but my eyes drawn to the little G40. I've driven a few in various forms over the years but only on track and as I was making to leave boss Lawrence Tomlinson said "go on, you should take it out for a little drive..." Well, when the owner says so it'd be rude not to!
And now I'm here, in the dark (and thankfully dry), talking cars with our new neighbours who've rocked up in a very cool manual Murcielago while somewhere not so far away racing cars are ragging around on night qualifying. Vive Le Mans!
The legendary Le Mans convoys I'd read about for years are, I'm reliably informed, a shadow of their former selves and these days it's a cruise control-regulated 130km/h and a nervous eye for Les Flics. Who we've just seen, Stuart and the Merc thankfully on the righteous path and swift radio messages back to the following TVR.
The Khamsin from earlier isn't on his way to Le Mans as it turns out - there's a meet for the cars going on in Dijon - but the lovely C63 Black on the ferry is, likewise the various Astons, Porsches and more besides. Wonder how many of this lot we'll see at tomorrow's Friday Service? A few I'll wager.
Here's hoping the weather holds too. I did wake from a snooze to find wipers going and radio calls to Garlick to see if wanted to stop and put his roof up but, thankfully, it seems like just a passing shower. Fingers crossed...
An early start for the PH convoy today, Stuart and I aboard an Audi S4 with MissionMotorsport (a charity supporting injured servicemen) guys Dan and Jimmy who've hitched a lift with us. Garlick and designer Darren are in the TVR and the tech team are in the support truck, AKA a diesel Mercedes E-Class wagon. Which, given the way things are these days on the run to Le Mans with Les Flics, is probably the most sensible choice.
So, the British invasion fleet is assembling at Dover. And the French are responding as they know how ... by delaying the ferries to do some minesweeping in Calais harbour. So we'll be here for a while it seems.
the best thing about working in the docks used to be watching all the cars come in for the 24 and the classic (just in the background of the KHasmin pick is my old office, over looking all the check in booths! used to smoke loads come Le Mans)