Day 2 of the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours and Day 2 of the scrutineering process. This is a form of torture for the teams who hate the disturbance to their preparations for the race. The idea is that the cars are taken from the pit boxes on the circuit by road to the middle of the City of Le Mans, which is nightmare of traffic jams and tram related hold ups.
The factory teams arrive in their purpose built transporters and go through a process where the cars are checked over as are the technical papers. The teams and drivers are similarly exposed to the French bureaucratic processes. All of this is witnessed for free by an enthusiastic crowd who chase the drivers for autographs and small talk. All of this consumes a day and time is the one resource that even the biggest efforts are always short of.
So this how we come to have this bizarre combination of Peugeot 908 and humble tow truck.
Those of us who work the event year in year out see the same faces in the crowds that assemble in the Place des Jacobins. It is a rare chance in this modern, security obsessed world for the fans to get up close and personal with their heroes, mechanical and human. There were rumbles around the park that this would be the last year in the current form but I would not bet on any change, traditions die hard in La Sarthe.
The stars of the show for Tuesday were always going to be Peugeot and the Aston Martin Racing Lola Aston Martins. So it proved with the Gulf Oil sponsored cars through first. The other things that you might notice are the umbrellas, did I mention that it rained? Well it did, cats and dogs or whatever the local equivalent is.
It takes truly committed fans to stand out in this deluge and wait for "their" team to come round.
For the teams the highlight is the team shot where everyone lines up behind the cars and drivers, most treasure it as a personal momento to show their particiaption in the great event. Of course standing out in the rain makes it all a little harder.
The arrival of the Peugeot factory cars meant that the atmosphere was cranked up a little further.
An attempt to inject fever into the air by the Sebastian Bourdais fan club fell a bit flat. He is a local lad and it is a source of great pride that he has been successful enough to win CART Championships and elbow his way into Formula One, the citizens of Le Mans do not need any encouragement to cheer their hero.
Even Peugeot had to give way to the elements as rain stopped play. With nothing to do, gossip amongst those in the bidness started and flourished. A constant story was that Peugeot was about to put in a protest about the Audis, especially in regard to the way the front of the car has an aerodynamic effect contrary to the rules on such matters……….well today that came to pass and I am getting the story straight before writing anything on it.
It was noted that Audi spent ages clearing the scrutineering process, Peugeot had a significantly easier time. How will this affect the resolution of the protest?
One thing that everyone could agree on was that the monsoon should cease, well everyone except the ducks.
Action from the track in the next update.