Scrutineering was again at Place de Republique which is a little more cramped and less fan friendly than the traditional Jacobins, but the press pass obtained early meant great access to the drivers and cars. The atmosphere is at once relaxed and electric with the fans able to leisurely watch the teams who are trying frenetically and in vain to get their cars through in a hurry which is of course an impossibility due to space restrictions and the laissez-faire way of the French – wonderful people as they are.
The morning of the race Aston #97 was being worked on heavily with the now idle #99 team pitching in to help. The drivers – still unhappy with the knife-edge handling of their steed – agreed that this was no way to go into a marathon race and decided to revert to a friendlier setup from earlier in the week. Darren Turner had told me at Silverstone of their misgivings over the handling after the off -season rule changes to ride height. The car may lack pace but at least it would be driveable.
For me, endurance racing is to sprint racing as an opera is to a pop song. It does require some patience, knowledge and understading to fully embrace its subtle nuances, but once thoroughly grasped and understood, it can be emotional and as exciting to watch unfold with its contant ebbing and flowing as the closest F1 race. Often more so.
David Richards summed up the race afterwards with me, “As you can imagine, 24 hour races like Le Mans have many highs and lows. It was without doubt one of the most competitive races we’ve been to for a long time, especially when you think that after 18 hours we were only two seconds ahead of the Ferrari but a hydraulic leak put paid to that challenge.