Day 3 at Le Mans 2019
With the dawn of a new day came yet another violent awakening from the sub-zero showers. However, this time I wasn’t quite as bothered by the cold water as yesterday. This is because I knew the week’s first on-track action was about to take place, albeit at a much later time.
In fact, after spending a large part of the day walking around the track’s ‘Fan Zone’ and avoiding the many rain showers, the Le Mans 24 Hour cars finally took to the track at 4:00 pm. This was for a four hour free practice session and surprisingly, this is the only chance the drivers get during the week to practice apart from the three practice sessions.
Before that though, I took the time to take a look round the Le Mans 24 Hour Museum. This is a celebration of the race’s history and it goes over not just the cars that have competed in the iconic race, it also goes over the various different changes the track has been through. That’s all well and good but the real reason for me to visit the exhibition was to see the many wonderful cars that have claimed success at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The most impressive cars that were on display, in my opinion, were the Bentley Speed 8 that won the race outright in 2003, the Ford GT40 that won in 1967 and a Pescarolo Prototype. I liked this one as it reminded me of playing Gran Turismo 4 which featured very simplistic endurance events.
As I wasn’t at the track early enough to catch the traditional inspection, or ‘Pesage’ in French, in the city centre, this first practice session was the first chance I got to see this year’s field. Since last year, many of the cars have changed such as the Rebellion LMP1 cars, as well as several livery changes for cars such as the Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE and the Dragon Speed BR Engineering 01 LMP1.
Not only are the cars great to look at, the sound is also mind-blowing. Even the slightly quieter cars like the Ferrari 488 GTE and the Toyota LMP1 cars have their own little subtleties. For example, due to its turbocharged V8 engine, the Ferrari has a slightly muted engine tone. However, it makes up for this lack of pure noise with the wastegate woosh on lift-off and an initial whistle when it starts accelerating out of corners.
On the other hand, the Porsche 911 RSR is known for its loud exhaust note that almost resembles that of a Formula 1 car from before the V6 Hybrid era. In fact, when you stand beside a long straight, the Porsche is a car that will make you wish you had thought of ear protectors. Where the Porsche screams at you like an evil toddler, the Corvette C7R GTE car growls like the dog that wants to shut the toddler up. It has a much deeper sound and as such isn’t quite as loud as the Porsche but it makes your entire body vibrate.
As I’m writing this, I’m sat in my car listening to a mix of Radio Le Mans and the engine notes of cars passing through the Porsche Curves during the first Qualifying session. In fact, I am trying to keep on top of the charge rates of my electrical devices. In fact, due to the rain ending any hopes of my solar charger being effective, energy is proving to be the biggest challenge of the week. Therefore, I’ll leave you with my top tip of the day, when attending Le Mans, invest in a proper generator as it doesn’t rely on the unpredictable weather.