Thursday, 29 April 2010

Encyclopedia of Le Mans 24 hours

Well, I have gone and done it. Not sure if my wife reads this, but if she does, I just hope she'll understand. I have ordered the new "L'Encyclopédie des 24 Heures du Mans" from Le Mans Racing. It comes out on July 12th and shows a picture of every car ever to have competed in the classic race. It seems to be an update of Tesseidre and Moity's previous publication, which went from 1923 to 1993, brought up to the present with the addition of a third volume.

It can be collected (according to the website) from the circuit during the 2010 Le Mans Classic meeting, saving the postage costs

Apparently some of the gaps in the original will be filled, as well as some of the non-qualifiers from races.

I am not sure it will be worth the price, but I'll maybe update the blog when it arrives. But it is the sort of thing that I should have, and with such things it is often better to get in the queue early. As I said, we'll see. I'm really rather excited about it though.

It has been a quiet month this month - we had our family holiday in Portugal disrupted by the air travel ban caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

Audi (predictably) ran away and hid at the eight hour race at Paul Ricard (Le Castellet). What with all the palaver of getting home from Portugal (and recovering my car from Guildford Audi, where it had spent the duration having its water pump replaced) I never got around to getting into any of the analysis, save to note that the R15-plus was capable of 31 laps on a tankful of fuel, whereas the Oreca Peugeot could manage 33. Although I've said before that speed will always beat economy, that might be an interested pointer for Le Mans in June.

And May will be mad. As my DSC column for April will describe. Sportscar races all over the place.

Including the 24 hours of the Nürburgring, which will be my first race of the year. Can't wait. Hope the R8 water pumps are more reliable than those on the S4.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Personal ambition

I'm not sure if I should post this here, but here goes anyway. I have just heard that my name has 'been put in' for the Radio Le Mans coverage of the Nürburgring 24 hours. That's nice, as it's an event that I enjoy, having been to the last two. It's near where I used to live, I can speak the language (more or less) and it is usually possible to combine the pleasure of being there with the business of working and making coherent noises into a microphone. Two years ago, when the broadcast shut down in the early hours of the morning, I drove off into the forests and rubbed shoulders with 'real spectators', pressing against the fence watching the cars through Brünnchen, Pflantzgarten and the rest.

Last year, I have to admit here to the world, I left the track, and went back to a hotel for some shuteye. That was a first, and I felt very guilty (although well-rested) afterwards. But there were family issues then, and this year won't be the same, I'm sure.

The Nürburgring 24 hours is different from Le Mans, of course. More cars in the entry, far more amateur drivers and more an event for the participants than for the spectators. Although, having said that, the spectators turn up in droves (aka VW camper vans). The cross-section of humanity may be more limited than that seen at Le Mans, but there are many folk there having fun. I hate to say it, but they are stereotypical Germans, whereas at Le Mans, you get examples of just about everyone.

In some ways, it's a simpler race than Le Mans. At eight and more minutes a lap, your lap chart, if you have one, is much narrower. But the complexity of running eight or more cars out of a garage means nightmares for team managers. Co-operation is required. And the achievement of getting a production based car through 24 hours is not so great as getting a highly strung racer to the finish. However, if you've done it for a tenth of the price of getting a car to Le Mans, then I'm sure the sense of achievement experienced by those involved is just as great.

Given the choice, I have to say I would prefer Le Mans over the Nürburgring - its sense of history, of 'greatness' - legacy, if you will - is so great. But it certainly should rank as the event to go to, if you're just going to go to one event in the 'Green Hell' of the Eifel mountains.

Finally, on the note of personal ambition, is a message that arrived recently from a 'fan', for which I am very grateful. And I hope that we can make something work, despite my dramas this morning, which saw me waste three hours of my life while a failed water pump on my til then marvellous Audi S4 was diagnosed.

Maybe I have a future outside IT consultancy, but I will have to wait awhile yet to find out.