‘Just a er mid­night at Tertre Rouge, my heart was bro­ken’

CAR (UK) - - From Editor -

I HAVE NO IDEA how it took me 39 years to get to Le Mans, al­though in truth I spent the first hours of this year’s race won­der­ing why I’d both­ered. Dazed by the dust and the din of rac­ing en­gines, I hadn’t a clue what was go­ing on. Look, the Toy­ota that started on pole! Look, a Ford GT with its farty V6! Oh look, a Toy­ota again…

To­gether with the heat, the at­tri­tion rate and the heli­copters, my con­fu­sion con­trived to make a race­track in France feel a lit­tle like a war­zone, al­beit a safe war­zone with hot chips on tap. And, like a war­zone, I fig­ured good com­mu­ni­ca­tions might help. So I found a man sell­ing ear de­fend­ers with built-in ra­dios and handed him a lot of money – game changer.

Like a sprawl­ing king­dom hid­den at the back of a wardrobe, in that mo­ment Le Mans opened it­self up to me in all its gid­dy­ing grandeur. The his­tory! The hu­man­ity! The en­ergy, re­source and ef­fort! How, I asked my­self, had I man­aged to ig­nore such an almighty spec­ta­cle as this for four decades?

There­after I was plugged into the ebb and flow of the race. I was high on the banks just af­ter the Dun­lop chi­cane with a bag of chur­ros when the No2 Porsche, the car that would go on to win, pit­ted for an eter­nity for a new front mo­tor/gen­er­a­tor unit. I was up in the grand­stands with a beer when a clumsy pass saw an LMP2 car smash the Risi 488 Fer­rari into the wall at dusk. I was ly­ing there on the bank at Tertre Rouge just af­ter mid­night, mes­merised, when I had my heart bro­ken by the ra­dio feed of Ka­mui Kobayashi try­ing to nurse his life­less Toy­ota back to the pits. And the fol­low­ing morn­ing I was down at Porsche Curves with a ba­con sand­wich to see the race’s wild cli­max, when Porsche did what Porsche does and the wickedly dif­fuser’d As­ton Van­tage clinched the GTE Pro win in the last laps. I came home a changed man, and not just be­cause I put on a lot of weight. Ben Miller Ed­i­tor

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