C7CAT


As in previous events Ian Bruce and Paul Symonds organised for the Kent Sevens (& guests) to make the pilgrimage to Classic Le Mans. The final roll call was 21 cars and 26 people and it had been arranged for us all to stay in the same place as two years ago, Chateau de Montaupin in Oize from Wednesday 2nd to Monday 7th July.

The journey down was eventful for those with Ian Bruce as he noticed that his gauge was showing zero oil pressure. After we pulled over and had a thorough search of his car it appeared that there wasn't an oil leak. A few phone calls were made to Blighty for technical advice and by chance a Brit living in France passed by offered to tow Ian to a local garage where we explained that the most likely cause was disintegrating sump foam. After putting the 7 up on the hoist the mechanics explained they were off for lunch and shut the garage. So, when in France, have an extended lunch in the local restaurant!

After lunch we were soon on our way again although we were now far behind everyone else so it was a 'toe down' blat to the chateau!

On Thursday we just went out for a blat and lunch and took a few photos between Indianapolis and Arnage

On Friday we headed off to the circuit to have a wander around the paddock, circuit and village

On Saturday, raceday, we decided not to go to the circuit early in the morning as there is always a long slow-moving queue and having wandered around the paddock the day before it seems a pointless exercise so many of us headed south to The Hotel de France in La Chartre-sur-Le-Loire. From 1950ís right through to 1970, the teams and drivers that stayed at the Hotel de France would prepare their race cars at the hotel. The mechanics would then drive the race cars on the public roads to and from the hotel to the Le Mans 24 hours circuit for practice, qualifying and the race. The D304 from La Chartre-sur-le-Loir to Le Mans has echoed to the sounds of the Le Mans winning Aston Martin DBR1ís, Ferraris, Ford GT40ís and finally Porsche 917ís, the last race cars to drive on public roads to the circuit in 1970. After spending time observing the comings-and-goings from the square outside the hotel of various machinery we had lunch in the hotel and then folowed the time honoured D304 to Le Mans arriving at 5pm and straight into our designated car park. Result!

We had tickets in the Dunlop stand opposite the Dunlop Chicane and spent a few good hours there watching the action. Ian, Adil and myself decided we would head out of the circuit for a late evening meal and then return to the circuit to see the night racing. Unfortunately we had left it too late and despite trying our usual haunts we ended up in Arnage for a simple 'steak frites' etc but not before being asked to do the usual burn-outs. I make an appearance at 2:40 ans was encouraged with the words "Do it for England Biggles"


Eventually we arrived back at the circuit in torrential rain and spent the rest of the night watching the racing at Dunlop Chicane, Esses and Tetre Rouge, before wandering back through a rather dead village (shame as we really fancied a coffee around 5am!). Eventually, as dawn broke, we decided we would drive down to Mulsanne to watch the racing from the Grid 5 - 1966-71 and Grid 6 - 1972-79. Finally around 8.45am we decided enough was enough and returned to the chateau for breakfast. I only managed a few hours sleep and spent the rest of the day feeling a little jaded after my first 'all-nighter' at Le Mans. Most of us stayed in the Oize on the Sunday and watched the British GP in the local bar.

On Monday we set off on the trip home and that wasn't without its problems. Everyone split into groups depending on their crossing times and the group I was in enjoyed a wonderful lunch in St Evroult-Notre-Dame-su-Bois and then left for our afternoon stop at Forges-Les-Eaux. On arrival we hear on the grapevine that the Eurotunnel is closed. After much deliberation we decide to try the ferry alternative as we are informed by Eurotunnel that our 21.50 crossing may not depart untl 08.00 the folowing morning! Eventually, thanks to mobile phones and the internet we succeed in booking ourselves onto the 23.59 Dunkerque-Dover ferry. All we had to do was arrive for boarding by 22.59. What followed was a brilliant and breathtaking 4 hour night-time blat (avoiding the autoroutes and peages) that I could ever have imagined. Six 7s in convoy, not once broken up, despite some horrendous conditions at one point all arriving at the port with 15 mins to spare. We all really enjoyed the full English breakfast at midnight!

After docking I had another enjoyable blat across country to Heathfield and arrived home at the crack o'sparrows!

Touring