THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Johnny Tipler has his say
Big-time events are like pilgrimages. And of all the major historic race meetings on the competition calendar Peter Auto’s Le Mans Classic that follows a fortnight after the centrepiece 24-Heures is undoubtedly one of the best, vying for top spot with Silverstone and Spa Classic, Lime Rock, Zandvoort and Algarve Historic GPS, and the Nürburgring Old Timer. Coming so soon after the WEC 24Hours, the Classic’s on the radar of many Brit race fans and, like the all-nighter, there’s a fair presence of geezerdom livin’ it large in the campsites adjacent to the circuit. I’d gone over with snapper Sarah Hall, travelling in the Boxster S via the overnight crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff, courtesy of Brittany Ferries, on account of all other routes being sold out. We were billeted in the Maison Blanche camping ground, about 100m from the track but likewise handy for the paddock. Less well appreciated was the errant behaviour of a few Porsche hotheads, doughnutting on the campsite’s blacktop, including a red 928 that had to anchor up a bit sharpish when confronted by a couple of kids on skateboards. The Norfolk coppers would have had something to say about that – like, you should be setting some kind of example. On the other hand, the roundabout in the centre of Arnage was equally fair game for tyre smokers of all persuasions, entertaining diners in the overflowing roadside restaurants, though on Saturday night the spectacle was supressed by a large police presence.
As for the racing, what we saw of it was excellent, given our privileged trackside vantage points and pitlane access, though it was excruciatingly hot, making the media centre overlooking the start-finish straight a more than welcome refuge. The Porsche-only race was entertaining, and gratifyingly won by a longtail 908 coupé, whilst inescapably keeping an eye on veteran Porschiste Gérard Larrousse as he worked his way up from 16th to 6th in the wonderful yellow-and-red swirls 911 ST. Consistency was his secret, he told me later.