«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 ...»
Tertre Rouge Approach: The area between the Esses and Tertre Rouge was completely redeveloped in 2007 at the same time as the Tertre Rouge corner itself was revised. Viewing here is excellent thanks to a huge embankment to the infield that runs the full length of the straight. Wide walkways slope gradually to the top of the spectator area where there can be found a number of ample viewing platforms suitable for disabled spectators. The ageing and cramped pedestrian underpass that has always served this part of the circuit was also replaced for 2007. In its place is a well-lit and wide underpass, again served by gradual concrete slopes on both sides of the circuit. The cars are full throttle for this short burst and ear splittingly loud. Worth bustling your way down to the front of the busy enclosure if that’s your thing!
Tertre Rouge: The Tertre Rouge corner marks the point where the purpose built racetrack joins the public road and the surrounding viewing areas signal the extremities of the ‘General Enclosure’. The layout of the corner was heavily modified for the start of the 2007 season to increase the size of the run off area. The right hander is shallower than its former self and the cars now carry a great amount of speed through the heart of the corner, the drivers letting the cars drift out from the apex as they make the transition onto the public road section of the course. The embankment mentioned in the previous section runs all the way round the inside of Tertre Rouge and offers views all the way up to the Esses, down through Tertre Rouge and on to the Mulsanne. Refreshment and merriment lie only yards away when at Tertre Rouge; exit the General Enclosure, turn left under the circuit and you will find a lively trackside bar dubbed the ‘Stella Bar’ by many a seasoned campaigner!
Mulsanne Straight (Hunnaudieres): Access to the Mulsanne is prohibited, the track being kept secure by race officials (stationed at the various posts) and the local police, both of whom will take a dim view to any attempts to break through the trees to the circuit. Nevertheless, there are still viewing opportunities waiting to be exploited, it will just require a little endeavour and organisation.
It is possible to get within a few feet of the action at the Auberge des Hunaudieres or Shanghai des 24 Heures restaurants situated a couple of hundred yards before the braking zone of the first chicane. The legendary Auberge des Hunaudieres used to offer dramatic trackside seats from where you could enjoy good food and drink.
Unfortunately green covers attached to the catch fencing obscure the view (although if you are lucky they will have been eased down!) and getting a table can be problematic during track time as the restaurant tends to be taken over by corporate hospitality. However, there is still an open air public bar at the rear of the property; clamber up onto the benches for a glimpse of the cars going flat out down the Mulsanne. To get to Hunaudieres (and the Shanghai des 24 Heures) during track time refer to the circuit map and stick to the following instructions. Head South East on the N142 (Route du Mans) running parallel to the Mulsanne Straight. Turn right on to Chemin de Ceasar and you will enter the network of minor roads. The restaurant will be temporarily signposted and there will be French police or race officials willing to direct you. They may be blocking the final turning so you need to be ready to tell them you are eating at Hunaudieres and they will gladly let you through. Eventually you will end up in a field at the back of the restaurant where you can park for free. The less well known Hotel Arbor presents a better spectating opportunity. It sits alongside the Mulsanne straight on the circuit outfield only a couple of hundred yards after the second chicane.
Parking is permitted in the hotel car park for a fee of 10 Euros per person. From there, the chicane can be found only 36 The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 2015 a short stroll away through the trees. This is an excellent spot to watch from, particularly as there never seems to be anybody else there! Parking is at the discretion of the hotel and information listed here is purely based on their setup in previous years.
Mulsanne Corner: Your General Admission ticket will give you access to the Mulsanne Enclosure although getting there is another issue. The 90-degree right-hander marks the end of the Mulsanne straight and the spectator area follows the track for about 200-300 meters as the cars accelerate down the narrow section towards Indianapolis. The view over the corner itself is helped by a small embankment that just gives you enough elevation to take some photos over the catch fencing. The entry to Mulsanne corner is a very heavy braking zone so you can expect to see plenty of overtaking and maybe the odd driver overdoing things and utilising the run off area. To get to Mulsanne follow the directions to Arnage (see below) then continue down the D139 (this will be one way during the race). In approximately 1.5 Km you will reach a crossroads. Look out for a ‘P Mulsanne’ sign directing you to turn left. Take the left turn and follow the narrow lane for into the outskirts of Mulsanne village. The final left turn that leads to the parking area is easy to miss so once again look out for the ‘P Mulsanne’ sign. The left turn is just after an area of open ground and approximately 400m before the junction with the N138. It takes you up a dusty track to the large parking area under the trees, some 300 meters after the corner.
Indianapolis/Arnage: As with the Mulsanne corner the complex at Arnage is accessed by a separate enclosure, admission being covered by your General Admission ticket. Although a fair distance from the ACO village, this zone is reasonably accessible and well worth the effort. The enclosure runs from the apex of the cambered Indianapolis left-hander to the entrance to the extremely tight 90-degree right-hander of Arnage. There is grass banking alongside the track that allows you to get close to the action, especially at Arnage, where you are right on top of it. You won’t know what Le Mans is all about until you’ve seen some night racing from here. W atch the cars burst out of the trees towards Indianapolis, the fastest part of the circuit. They swoop through the fast right curve towards the tighter left of Indianapolis proper where several drivers land in the gravel after overestimating their ability. This is followed by the short straight before jumping on the brakes for Arnage, desperately trying to shed some speed for the uncompromising corner, brake discs glowing in the dark. You can hear the cars accelerate up through the gears long after they disappear back into the surrounding forest. This is what endurance racing is all about. Just try to get to Arnage for Wednesday or Thursday night qualifying or ideally after 2am on Sunday morning because the crowds at peak times can be a real drag. To get to Arnage corner follow Rue de Laigne in a southerly direction, passing the Maison Blanche campsite on your left and the Bleu campsite on your right. At the roundabout turn right onto Rue de Ruadin and follow the road for approximately 1.5 Km. Before entering the built up area of Arnage village take a left turn signposted ‘P Arnage’. Follow this road for approximately 2 Km until you arrive at Arnage corner. Follow the oneway system as it bends to the right. Parking can be found on the right hand side in two fields. For those who are coming to Le Mans with tour companies - beware of the overpriced “excursions” to Arnage and Mulsanne which they will try to sell you. There is a shuttle bus from the front of the circuit which will take you there for free - see Transport in Le Mans chapter, Navettes.
Porsche Curves: The Porsche Curves are a series of sweeping corners starting where the racetrack curves to the right to leave the public road. An enclosure here called Porsche Exterior offers a view of the outside of this uphill corner and can be accessed from the road leading to the Beausejour campsite. Looking back up the road section of the circuit it is possible to see almost as far as Arnage in the distance. New in 2010 there was also a viewing area on the inside of the circuit at the Porsche curves, accessed via the Beausejour campsite. Further round the track you will find the Circuit de Alain Prost Karting that lies adjacent to the Karting Nord campsite. Conveniently, the kart track’s pit lane roof can be accessed via steps at the back of the building. This gives a fantastic elevated view of the Le Mans circuit. Turn around and you can also watch the public karting where the skill levels are drastically lower but the crashes come immeasurably more frequently! This spot lies outside of the General Admission enclosure so you don’t need to show your ticket, although on race day there is sometimes a steward demanding 5 Euros for admittance. It seems to be a little known spot so enjoy some crowd free spectating at all but the busiest times.
Stop Press!!! - The ACO (in their infinite wisdom) have decided to close access to the Outside of the Porsche Curves AND parts of Maison Blanche campsite in favour of Porsche and certain camping companies. Two of the best and classic viewing parts of the circuit could be lost to the General Public / Enceinte Générale! This is an ongoing sanitisation of the viewing areas in favour of corporate sponsorship Ford Chicane: The final challenge on the circuit is the double left right complex known as the Ford Chicane. Stick to the outfield where you will find shallow banking (just high enough to see over the armco) that stretches right into the Maison Blanche campsite as far as the exit to the Porsche Curves. The Maison Blanche grandstand nestles conveniently over the Ford Chicane offering excellent raised views of this action packed area of the circuit. If you can't get into the grandstand try getting down to the catch fencing in front of it to get some close up views of the cars powering onto the pit straight.
37 The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 2015 Waving the flags and much more – The marshals Little is known to many visitors about the marshals at Le Mans and their work, although there wouldn’t be any race at all without them. Marshalling is a hobby done by volunteers with a passion for motor sport. These men and women spend their free time and their own money to train in the many aspects of marshalling. They act as flag marshals, chief track marshals, pit lane marshals and there are many other roles. Their skills are crucial for the success of a race, because an exciting race can be destroyed by bad marshalling but it can also be made better and safer by good work from the marshals, even saving a driver’s life. The set of skills which is required is large and the willingness to attend training on a regular basis is an important prerequisite. Training covers firefighting, flagging, observing, radio communication and many other topics.
Pits, these Marshals will observe and report on all pit lane behaviour and stops. To do that requires a knowledge of the rules and regulations, no mean feat when you consider that they need eyes everywhere and will need to react quickly, nimble feet are needed in the lane to see all, but avoid being in the way.
From the information flowing into Race Control from all the Marshal’s post’s it is then up to the Control room people to filter out any important information that the Race Director may need to know and act upon, for example the release of the Safety Car (there are 2 or 3 around the track) who will be informed where the Race leader is and will try to pick him up (sometimes easier said) and if the leader is mired in the SC pack, when to ‘release’ the cars between the SC and leader. To do that, the SC that has the Race Leader behind will ‘wave by’ any cars between him and the Leader, these cars will then proceed to the tail of the next queue. Once the cars are ordered, everyone is happy, the SC’s will pull off, Green Flag will be shown to the Race Lead at the start line, and racing will re-commence Following are the flags you’ll see over the race weekend and their meaning.
Code 80 comes to La Sarthe In 2014 there was a new type of race neutralisation, Code 80. This has been seen under other names in other races, notably the Nurburg 24. It is a GPS based system that instantly advises the driver in car of Yellow Zone, at the same time the marshals will be waving their yellows, result is an 'instant Safety Car'. The field reduce their speed to 80kph and become essentially their own SC, no catching the car in front, this way the marshals can get to work and clear an incident much more quickly. Upon removal of the hold, the driver is instantly back to racing, no need to wait to pass a point on the track. The idea of this is to prevent losing time behind the Safety Car (deploy, catch the leader, pace, reorganise, release) this allows a pause rather than a suspension to racing.
39The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 20152015 Marshalling changes
For 2015 there has been a shake up for the on track marshals. Gone is the Poste system and in are Secteurs. This is all in the name of safety, although the ACO have intimated that the overall numbers required are the same, a lot of the roles we are used to seeing at a track have been changed. The secteurs will be as per the attached map, gone is the old numbering system, no longer will the British Poste be at Poste 106 for the week, instead they will be part of Sector 29, and like other secteurs, will cover a larger part of track.
Since the 2014 race the ACO/Le Mans have invested in many track modifications, and with that change has come a change to how the marshals operate. From 2015, marshals will now be placed differently, old hands may see that marshals are now in different positions to what they remember, this is due to an increase in the number of flag marshals at more points. Each flag signal will be repeated on both sides of the track, hopefully this’ll ensure no signal is missed. The increase of flag points also means that any Code 60 called can be controlled easier, and smaller zones mean back to racing quicker.