Amongst the Speedhunters on site at the Petit Le Mans, I’ve been designated the press room worker. So while John Brooks and Linhbergh were off shooting the race, I’ve been sitting here watching the Speed TV feed and listening to Radio Le Mans. Out the window I can see one corner of the track, but I might as well be in my living room as I’m mostly getting a sense of the race through media, rather than direct experience. Not that I’m complaining! The weather has been pretty rubbish today as I’ve been able to stay relatively dry.
I did venture out a bit to shoot the race start though. One thing that’s cool about the ALMS is that the pre-race grid is open to the public. In spite of the wet weather this proved to be extremely popular. Somewhere among the throngs of fans are some race machines getting ready to go out on track!
Off to the side a bagpipe band was playing… it was an unexpected soundtrack to the rain and the crowds.
Here some Peugeot mechanics hold station around one of their race cars. Perhaps they didn’t want the public getting to close to this high tech racer.
Plenty of attention was being lavished on the pole sitting, Robertson Racing Ford GT.
I managed to find Tommy Milner among the crowds. He looks pretty chilled out in spite of the fact that he was around 10 minute away from a big race start!
Before I had a chance to find the Falken Porsche, the announcers asked the crowds to leave the grid. It was time to get in position for the race start.
Linhbergh, John and myself decided to position ourselves at different corners around the track…. Given that John is part of the sports car establishment he was granted permission to shoot at turn one. This is reserved only for select individuals.
Check out McNish on the left of the frame in the Audi… he’s getting pretty aggressive…. He feigns right.
And then darts out to the left.
This places him on the outside of the pole sitting Peugeot and he simply drove away…
It was classic McNish aggression. By the time he reached Linhbergh’s camera at the bottom of the Esses a gap was already apparent.
Meanwhile, the Robertson Racing Ford GT was leading the pack into turn five.
I was stationed looking up the straight into Turn 10A… McNish appeared in the distance.
Look at how much a gap he’s already pulled out….
The GTs followed a moment later. Tommy had a great start and found himself in third.
Into lap 2 and McNish was disappearing into the distance. In the wet conditions the Peugeots just couldn’t live with the Audis.
The two factory Vettes very quickly moved into a dominant 1, 2 position amoung the GTs.
Their time at the front wasn’t to last though.
The privateer LG Motorsports Corvette had a drip through the gravel in the opening laps…. There have been quite a few cars spinning and crashing today in the adverse conditions.
While the track was wet, the Falken Porsche was able to comfortably live with the main GT2 pack and was pacing the two BMWs at one stage. Unfortunately they had an incident with another car and had to replace a suspension upright… effectively ruining any chances of a result.
Tommy gradually dropped back as his wet tires went off but the team fought the car back up to lead GT2 at one stage.
The sister can ran into some problems with it’s oil system and disappeared behind the wall for repairs. They are currently sitting second last in class as I type this.
I did a quick trip to the paddock area a little while ago and snapped this shot of the BMW mechanics resting in between pit stops.
There were also some familiar faces at the Falken booth.
Just as I returned to the press area the heavens opened and the race has now been red flagged for a few hours now… the Risi Competizione Ferrari team cleverly switched onto wets at exactly the right moment and managed to put a lap onto the entire GT2 field. They are now at the head of the table with the NFS BMW GT2 lying in second.
And the leader? Well as the track dried, the advantage swung back to the Peugeots. They are now sitting first and second. We’ll see if the race restarts… I have the feeling that the Audis will come for the foreground again if it does. Most people in the press room here think that the race will NOT be restarted though as the track is currently rather flooded.