I am here in France with John Brooks for this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Festivities began on Sunday with Scrutineering.
This is a long tradition, held in the town centre.
Each team unloads their
racecar to the adoring public. Once unloaded, the car is pushed through the crowds into a
Scrutineering area where the ACO, the organising body, check the cars thoroughly.
This year was a little different. Due to construction work, Scrutineering
was moved to a smaller venue down the road. Scrutineering was also moved forward a day to include Sunday. As if this wasn't enough, one of the first cars out were the French Peugeots. It made for a very busy area.
Audi would have to wait until Monday before they could show the car. The crowd was still pakced into the new venue.
Once in the secure technical area, the teams can claim their cars back from the public.
Even at this late stage, teams are preparing the cars, in this case, a
last minute sticker is being placed on the Matech Ford GT.
It is also a chance to see new cars and liveries for the first time. This
is the new livery for the JMW Aston Martin.
You may remember I posted a
competition last month.This is the winning entry. It works well
and appears to meet the brief of a Dunlop 'Art car'. I suppose it saves
them paying a livery designer to do it………
The ACO then start checking the cars. This first stage, consists of visual
checks and measurements.
Once completed, the cars move into a second area, where other checks are
performed. Engine covers, hoods are removed, details explained to the ACO
and eventually, the famous "24 Heures du Mans" and class stickers are
given to the team to place on their cars. This is one of the few times,
the teams can't stop the Photographers from sneaking shots of secret
areas. its no surprise to see the likes of Marshall Pruett of Speed.com
and Sam Collins of Race Car Engineering camped out here!
While the cars are being scrutineered, the drivers attend to interviews
with journalists from around the world.
All the French drivers were very popular with fans. Add the Ferrari brand
to the mix and Jean Alesi was assured of a heroes welcome. Jean will drive
with Giancarlo Fisichella in the AF Corse Ferrari F430 this coming
The cars are passed legal and pushed into the Photography area ready for team photos. It takes a while to set up the cars and get personnel in the right places. Almost every driver has to get a camera phone photo to prove they were there. Adrian Fernandez is taking a photo of Sam Hancock in front of the Lola Aston Martin with Sam's phone.
Note, Sam's helmet livery is based on Martini Racing graphics. Two iconic liveries meet!
Eventually, the scene is set and team photos of each team commence.
Scrutineering is a long slow process and takes almost two days for all 56
cars to go through. They all passed by the way.
I spent the afternoon at the track. Many of the teams are building up
their cars, fitting last minute parts and ensuring all the bodywork fits
and have the correct logos.
It was also my first chance to see the latest BMW Art Car, the #79 M3. I think its very successful and already popular. It should stand out on the track and be a photographer favourite.
While the likes of Peugeot and Audi are quite secretive, other teams leave their cars on display for media to inspect and analysis the cars.
We will be taking a close look at a few of these cars and a preview of the big race in the coming days.