Sunday 19 June 2016

The 24 Hours of Le Mans 2016: Race day, the build-up.

The 'advance party' of the CA team left our lair at the crack of dawn on Saturday and arrived well in time for the warm up. It seems that the right time to arrive ahead of the traffic is 7am!

The 45 minute warm-up for the 84th 24 hours of Le Mans started just 15 seconds after 9am. The track was bone dry but there remained some standing water inside curbs which caught out a few drivers. Griffin in #99 Aston Martin was first spinner, followed by Chatin in #23 Ligier who ended up beached in the gravel at the Porsche Curves bringing out the red flag. A few minutes after the session was resumed the red flag came out for the second time as David Cheng in the #35 Alpine rode the wet curbs at the entry of Indianapolis and gave the tyre wall a good clout. With only six minutes left, the session was not resumed.  Lotterer set fastest warm-up time in Audi #7 with a time of 3 minutes 25.886 seconds.


The Ferrari Challenge support race was never likely to be incident-free and on the first lap Belgian driver Florian Merckx in the #88 had a misadventure at the 1st chicane on the Mulsanne straight, bringing out the safety car. At the front of the field, Baron in #91 and Grossman in #1 had a disagreement on the first lap of the restart at the Dunlop chicane but escaped major damage. The #91 gained a drive through penalty for his over-optimistic passing manoeuvre.  A batch of clashes and spins for #59 #37 #116 #173 and #48 which became stuck in gravel brought out the safety car for a second time. The #91 appeared to take his drive through penalty under SC conditions which I don't think was entirely kosher. Back to green again and there was a spin at Indy for #27 and a Ford Chicane for #86. In a hard fight in the last lap for the top 4 places #1 went up from 4th to 3rd. At the chequered flag is was Puglisi in #9 1st Smeeth #92 second and Grossmann #1 3rd.

© 2016 Gabi Tomescu /

In the one hour 'Road to Le Mans' support race, Fuster in #11 Ligier spun on the pit straight on the formation lap but survived with only hurt pride.  Charlie Robertson led from lap 1 in Ginetta #32 but after mid-race pit stops, a spin by Tomlinson and extended pit stop they fell out of contention. Robertson's 3:54.679 on lap 4 was nearly a consolation prize but it was beaten by Cosmo in #3 Ligier on very last lap 3:53.491 (lap13).  3rd place overall was hotly contested on last lap between #18 and #77 but finally #77 made the position. Tyre problems on the last lap dropped out #26 from 3rd place in GT3.  The overall winner was the #85 Ligier of Laurent and Cougnaud and #57 Ferrari of Basov and Shaitar won the GT3 class.

Dave Davies.