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«The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 2015 Every input was pure reflex - things were coming at me everywhere I looked. For about 50 ...»

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Brakes. Again, every car needs them. And just about every modern vehicle will come with ABS (anti-lock braking systems) and disc brakes as discs are far more efficient than the old-style drum brakes used on road and race cars up until the 1950’s. Guess where ABS and disc brakes came from? Yep, Le Mans. It was Malcolm Sayer’s C and DType Jaguars that were the first racing cars to have disc brakes and it wasn’t long before other manufacturers followed suit. If they wanted to win at Le Mans, they had to. Disc brakes meant that the Jaguars could brake later into corners, go faster for longer along straights and still take corners at safe speeds. The disc brakes lasted longer than the previously-standard drum brakes, they took longer to wear out and meant that drivers were safer as they stood less chance of having brakes either lock or simply fail to work at all. And where did this trickle down to, you might ask? Ordinary road cars. ABS is pretty much a standard on road cars today, but didn’t appear on the roads until the early-1980’s. Drivers at Le Mans were racing ABS-equipped cars in the mid-1970’s. ABS, the more efficient and safer form of braking that you’ll find on almost everything on the roads nowadays, has saved many an ordinary road driver from serious injury or even death. It was saving Le Mans drivers long before Joe Public got his hands on it and yes, beardy weirdies pootling around in converted vans and ambulances while protesting against the very existence of motorsport, that includes the vehicles that YOU drive around in.

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You’re wrong because it was at Le Mans that the world’s first biofuel racing car took to the track. In 2004 the Nasamax very nearly finished the race, the whole 24 hours, running on biodiesel. It wasn’t expected to win, it wasn’t going to win, but it did race there as a means to prove that biofuels and related engine technology really can have high performance that will one day trickle down to ordinary road vehicles. And why did the Nasamax race at Le Mans on biofuels? Because the race organisers invited it to as part of the event’s commitment to discovering, showcasing and refining new technology. The track has changed, the cars have changed, the rules have changed, but the Automobile Club de L’Ouest remain as committed now to showcasing new ideas and technology as they did in 1923 when the first 24 Hours was run. On the subject of fuel technology, the most successful team in recent years has been the Audi factory team. Their prototypes run on biofuel developed in conjunction with Shell who supply all the fuels used at Le Mans.

Enivronmental folk are also often fond of hybrid technology, cars that can use a combination of ordinary fuel and electricity generated by onboard electronics. Guess what, hippies. The biggest factory teams at the moment are Toyota and Audi and THEY RACE USING HYBRIDS. Yes, a lot of the currently top-secret hybrid technology on their current racing cars will appear in a few years time on whatever hybrid road vehicle that you buy when your converted ambulances and camper vans finally give up the ghost.

Before I sign off for the day I’ll also acquaint the uninitiated with a few other little trifles. Trifles without which even the most environmentally-conscious motorist would find their cars being declared unfit for today’s roads. Le Mans cars race right through the night, so it was at Le Mans that headlights really came into their own. A need for headlights meant improved electrics, also first develop for Le Mans. Increasing speeds on the straights forced designers to add a little thing called a windshield so that drivers could actually see where they were going. Oh, and tyre technology has long been developed and tested at Le Mans as the ‘Circuit de la Sarthe’ is made up largely of ordinary public roads closed off for the occasion.

So, all in all, my muesli-munching, beardy brethren, if you think that motorsport benefits nobody and that you yourselves have never derived any benefit from a noisy, dangerous, polluting spectacle that should be consigned to the dustbin of history like Roman chariot races, let me tell you one last time… YOU. ARE. WRONG.

Bye for now.

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Those who have tried a quick getaway at the end of the race know that the traffic at the end of the race can be a nightmare. I have a tried and tested a route for avoiding traffic although it does involve watching the end of the race from Mulsanne. Before the end of the race (a good two hours before) you need to move your car up to Mulsanne. I would recommend parking in Mulsanne village somewhere (rather than the official Mulsanne enclosure car park) or at Hotel Arbor on the Mulsanne straight. Watch the end of the race from Mulsanne/Hotel Arbor and head back to your car. The map below shows Mulsanne corner at the bottom left (bordering the golf course) and in the top right hand corner the D304 joining the A28. This is the junction that you need to get to. Simply follow the escape route marked on the map!

From Mulsanne village take the Route de Mulsanne North. Route de Mulsanne runs off Avenue de Bonen and the turn to get onto it is between the roundabout and the Champion supermarket. Follow Route de Mulsanne towards the village of Ruadin (passing on your left the track that leads down to Hotel Arbor and the 2nd chicane). As you approach the village turn right at the first roundabout onto Rue du Vieil Hetre. This is the main road through the village. Follow for 0.5 Km and take the third turn on the right onto onto Route de Parigne-l’Eveque. This will take you out of the village. After 0.8 Km you will see a fork going off to your right. Ignore this and continue for another 0.2 Km and take a left turn onto Chemin de la Guiltiere. This road snakes its way through the fields for approx 2 Km until you arrive at a t-junction with the D304 (top right of the map below). Turn right and in approx 1 Km you will arrive at the roundabout where you can filter onto the N28 and happily whiz up to the A11 that will take you across the top of Le Mans, safely away from all the congestion. Hooray!

We encountered absolutely no traffic when leaving from Hotel Arbor in ’08. You might encounter a little bit of traffic in Mulsanne village itself but I very much doubt it. The whole East side of the circuit is deserted during the race when compared to the Western side of the circuit.

80 The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 2015

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