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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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What will be a significant, and major, change is in race neutralisation. After Max Bianchis terrible accident at Suzuka in 2014, gone are vehicle recoveries under yellow, Code 60 or Safety Car will be in place before anything happens – obviously this does not include urgent medical attention. This still means the marshals will be there first, but unlike now, there will be no crossing of the track to provide an initial assessment, but there will be no intervention until safe, and there will be more use of rapid intervention vehicles.

Intervening with a Hybrid

On the side of the car next to the door are two lights, Green and Red, which indicate the state of the hybrid system.

The simplest piece of advice given to the marshals at Silverstone with regard to an HY car with a hybrid failure, was “Don't touch it until you have spoken to Race Control/the team” Although the posts were issued with rather thick and heavy rubber gloves, the first thing to do with was to call it to Race Control, after that a team member would arrive to ensure integrity of the system. Obviously should the car be in an accident, the priority is the driver, and he is sat in an isolated cell. However, there may be a time when extracting the driver is needed, in which case, out come the 'Marigolds' - very Heavy Duty latex gloves and a careful approach is taken. I am a pit marshal, so I can't say for sure what would happen on course, but the golden rule is if in doubt, do not touch.

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RadioLeMans.com was re-launched in March 2008 and now boasts year-round audio streaming as well as an extensive free archive of ALMS, Le Mans and other endurance content. During three weeks in March the site attracted almost 100,000 visitors and that number was bettered in April thanks to some new, live, exclusive coverage of sportscar racing.

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Of course the biggest draw is still the Le Mans 24 Hours. In race week 2007 over 900,000 visitors found their way to www.radiolemans.com - adding that to our monthly numbers should mean that by the end of 2008 around 2 million people will have been exposed to the world of sportscar racing via www.radiolemans.com This is all a far cry from the formative years of Radio Le Mans. Back then Radio Le Mans was only on air for a few days in June and existed (barely) from year to year and often scrambling for sponsors right up until (and sometimes during) race week. As early as the mid 80s the benefit of reaching spectators who didn’t normally listen to commentary, or who were away from the core ‘track-activity’ times, was becoming clear. There were those who realized that appetites could be whetted by playing pre-recorded driver interviews early on raceday morning, and traffic news and other sports news round-ups could be provided at the end of the day as spectators made their way home. In 1986, Le Mans followed the trend and broadcast the French public address commentary on FM airwaves.

This was pretty unadulterated stuff, with long periods of silence and the announcer often having to speak over background music. (Interestingly the French Service has never moved on – it’s still just like that!) Fine for the locals but this wasn’t helpful to the biggest single national group at the race – the British.

In 1987, spurred on by sportscar enthusiast Harry Turner, backed by Jaguar and produced by Studio 6 Marketing, a rather shabby caravan was brought from England and set up in the paddock with a radio transmitter and some dodgy phone lines to link the studio to the commentary booth in the tribune. Neville and Richard Hay provided the commentary assisted by Bob Constanduros from the pits. It’s worth remembering that during the night the whole show shut down while a music loop was played.

In later years Haymarket’s Autosport Magazine recognized the potential and provided some advertising for the station which enabled significantly more personnel to be brought on board Over the years there have been numerous backers of the radio station with Unipart, Chrysler, BMW and Audi perhaps the most prominent. Haymarket’s decision to bow out after the 2005 race saw Radio Show Limited – a company formed solely to ensure the continuation of the station – take over as rights holders. Radio Show Ltd continues to hold true to the tradition of Radio Le Mans whilst continuing to grow the audience and the fan base through the expansion of the website into a year–round resource.

For this year expect all the usual suspects: In essence the broadcast team remains very similar with regulars such as Paul Truswell, Graham Tyler along with USA’s finest Charles Dressing and Jim Roller, all providing their usual brand of passion mixed with informative insight. Paul is famous for putting his bodily functions on hold for upwards of 30 hours (covering the build up and the race itself) as he never moves from his eyrie in the tribunes from the moment he arrives on Saturday morning until the end of the race. He manages this armed only with finger food, a blank exercise book, lots of pens and his encyclopaedic knowledge.

As usual the station will be on-air in the vicinity of the circuit, starting with the live coverage on Sunday with scrutineering.

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The A220 and the seven GT40s are joined in what promises to be a stunning class battle by Rainer Becker’s Porsche 910, again, a new addition to the grid. Originally owned and raced by Bill Bradley, with Vic Elford and Tony Dean, this car enjoyed a number of notable results in period, including 1st in class and 5th overall at Hockenheim in 1968 and 5th overall in the 1969 1000km Nurburgring. Sam Thomas/Andy Dee-Crowne’s Allard J2X was a 1952 Le Mans 24 Hours competitor, while Paul Griffin/Gillian Carr’s Connaught ALSR raced there in 1955.

Class competition for the Allard comes from another of the same marque. Touring Car driver Patrick Watts will be out in a J2. The Connaught faces sporting competition for class honours from a veteran of the 1956 Le Mans 24 Hours, the beautiful Panhard Monopole X86 of François Cointreau and from former England Rugby, Captain David Cooke, in the yellow Lotus 11 Le Mans he shares with Neil Twyman.

The Schedule Thursday 11th June 2015 - 16:00-17:00 - 1 hour qualifying practice session  Saturday 13th June 2015 - 10:05-10:50 - 45 minute race 

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One of the highlights of my year. 56 cars and a combined 30,000 horsepower blasting by me only feet away.

It’s always a little different at Le Mans. For starters, fans are still treated like fans, not as walking wallets like at Grand Prix. You also get more racing in 24 hours than over an entire Grand Prix season. You get it without feeling like you might as well just turn up, throw your wallet over the security fence and go home.

Every year since 1923 (barring war, civil unrest and economic disaster) the people of the city throw their town wide open. In fact, so many come from all over the world that the population triples during race week. Day to day, you’ll find around 150,000 people living there. In race week you’ll find the best part of 500,000. And at 3pm on the Saturday afternoon most of us are sat, beer flowing, flags waving and airhorns tooting, awaiting the latest chapter in motorsport history. Some are there just to party, some are there just for the racing, most of us are there for a little of both.

The ‘Circuit de la Sarthe’ has changed many times since 1923. Safety concerns, increasing speeds, local building projects and, sadly, the ‘Le Mans Disaster’ of 1955 (still motorsport’s worst-ever accident) have all forced innovation and change. But the atmosphere at the start, as the noise of the crowd builds along with the anticipation, as the relentless sun beats down or we sit soaked to the skin by yet another downpour, never changes.

The announcers are chattering. The national anthems of every race team and driver are playing. The smells of burnt rubber, brake fluid, racing fuel, cigarette smoke and sweat hang heavy in the air. The tension builds along with the temperature or the downpour depending on which we’ve got this year. It builds, feeds on itself like a cloud forming.

And it builds. And it builds. Right up until engines roar, ears ring and eyes water at the sudden smoke and deafening racket. The cars are off on their formation lap. The old ‘Le Mans start’ where drivers ran over to their cars, jumped in and sped off without seatbelts or safety harnesses, is long gone. But the tension and anticipation always remain, fierce and undiluted.

There’s a cheer as the cars head of down the pit straight, head off in the wheel-tracks of the legends, of Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill and many greats. Some are still remembered, some long-forgotten. But here, briefly, even the least-famous racers live again in a welter of smoke and noise as the annual cheer swells, rises and falls among the crowd.

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It’s time.

If you pick the right spot along the pit straight you can see the cars as they approach. See them sliding through the Porsche Curves, hear them jazz their engines, hammering past the pits under the world-famous Dunlop Bridge,into the Dunlop Curves, smell burnt fuel and rubber as 56 cars and 30,000 horsepower obliterate all else for just a few seconds.

Then it’s over. The race has begun. As the euphoria fades a brief pang knifes through me. I’ve waited an entire year for these few seconds. It’ll be another year before I feel this again.

61 The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 2015 Administrative Checking & Scrutineering Le Mans lasts much longer than just 24 hours, from a spectator’s point of view it is actually a full week which offers lots of events which are worth a watch. The traditional opening of the race week used to be the Monday prior to the race when the administrative checking & scrutineering started; this is already a major event in its own right. In a move to attract more spectators, it has recently been brought forward to the Sunday. Some people see this scrutineering, which is basically a technical inspection of the cars, driver’s suits and helmets more as a ceremony than a function. It is to be held in the “Place de la République”. Parking is much more restricted than it has been in the past so if in doubt, leave your car at the circuit and take the tram. It is this unique event which gets everyone in the mood, ok, some team bosses and drivers are probably not happy that they have to drag everything including themselves into central Le Mans, but for the race fans it is well worth a visit, at least once. One after another, the teams are certified

to run according to the regulations, see below for a detailed schedule when each team is being checked:

th Sunday, 7 June 2015, 2.30 pm – 7.00 pm

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63 The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 2015 The Ceremony of hands Le Mans is a city which is proud of its racing heritage and its rightful place at the centre of Sports Car Racing throughout the world. No visitor to the city can fail to miss the monument to the 24-hourrace in the Place St Nicholas in the centre of town, and its surrounding bronze paving slabs commemorating all the recent LM winning teams – plus individual ones for Le Mans legends like Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell and Henri Pescarolo. Each year, at eleven o’clock on the morning of the day before the race, the three winning drivers from the previous year, gather along with members of the press and public, and local luminaries, for the “Ceremony of Hands”. A bronze plaque is unveiled with the names of all three drivers and an impression of their hands. One of the lower-key, and least well-publicized events of the week, it is nevertheless a “must visit” for anybody who has not done it before as it gives a good opportunity to get up close and personal with the top three drivers, and to join the city in celebrating its place at the th centre of the sport. This year the ceremony will be held on Monday, 8 June 2015 from 6.30 pm – 7.30 pm at the Place St. Nicholas, Le Mans city centre.

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On Friday evening before the race, many people head for the centre of town to the “Parade des Pilots”; that’s the Drivers Parade for those of you who don't speak French. This is a unique event full of atmosphere which fills the centre with usually more than 100.000 people. All the drivers are parading around in historic open top cars, there are marching bands and of course parades of beautiful girls. The parade is rather informal, laid back and also a brilliant opportunity to get drivers’ autographs. The annual driver’s parade 2015 will be held in Le Mans city centre on Friday, 12th June from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm.

Do not plan to go there by car! Take the tram or a bus instead when going from the circuit into town!

For details about the tram please see our chapter “Transport in Le Mans”. There is also a website about this event at http://www.grande-parade-des-pilotes.com.

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How to get there: Coming through the main entrance just go into the tunnel in front of you which leads to the inside of the track. Exiting the tunnel just turn left. The “Courbe” Bar it is the bright red building by the track side, watch out for groups of people in CA T-Shirts. It’s a public gathering in a public place, so non-CA members are of course welcome. To all CA-members: Please wear your CA t-shirt!

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The village of Saint Saturnin is situated on the main Northern entry to Le Mans, about fifteen minutes from the Circuit.

Because of the tremendous popularity of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race with the British and other Nationalities arriving in classic and sports cars, the event, held in the grounds of the Val de Vray has become a highlight of the Le Mans week. The objective of the St Saturnin Classic British Welcome is to provide a rendezvous and relaxing welcome point for those arriving, or those already in Le Mans, to take a breather from the Circuit and or the City.

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