Le Mans preview -- WSC

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24 Heures du Mans — Le Mans 1991

The Automobile Club de L’Ouest has dragged the 24 Hours right into the 1990s this year, with a completely new complex that replaces the old pits, paddock and race control.

Everything — from the back of the “village” (which remains untouched) to the armco in front of the tribunes — has been swept away and replaced with an impressive, but perhaps, rather monolithic, glass arid concrete pits/grandstand block and an entirely separate building that brings together race control, timing and commentary into one facility for the first time.

Probably the most significant change is in the width of the pit lane, which has increased from its previously miniscule proportions to a massive total width of 17 metres! Half of this is taken up by concrete standing for the mechanics to work on the cars, and the rest will be the entry/exit lane. Each car will now also have a secure garage space of 5 x 13 metres — which means that the machines will not have to be wheeled back and forth to the paddock for mechanical attention during practice.

Between the pitlane and the track there is now a double concrete barrier with a 3 metre gap in between for marshals and officials to operate in — and the track surface itself has been relaid from the exit of the Ford Chicane right through to the entrance to the Dunlop Chicane.

To gain this extra space, the pits have been moved further back into the old paddock area which itself has been extended by demolishing the racing school buildings at the south end and excavating some extra level space from the rising ground at the north end. There is also now a helipad in the paddock and interestingly, four overhead footways have been built to allow access from the “village” into the hospitality suites and grandstand above the pit garages, without having to pass through the paddock at all. This means that for the first time public access into this area will now be restricted in the same way as the remainder of the SWC.

The whole exercise started in July 1990 and will be finished in time for the race in June. The ACO itself coughed-up half the £13 million cost and the remainder of the funding has come from the Conseil Generale de Sarthe (25%), the Region de Pays La Loire (12.5%), and two local council organisations (12.5%). All of which shows a great deal of local commitment to — and faith in — the future of the 24 Hours. Notably, no funds at all were provided by the FIA/FISA — who of course effectively annexed a large chunk of the race’s income during negotiations with the organisers last year. . . .

Also ready in time for the race will be the ACO’s new museum by the main public entrance. This strikingly modernistic structure — which replaces the present dingy and cramped one in the village, will be able to display a far bigger proportion than before, of the club’s vast collection of road and racing cars and race memorabilia. On display should be Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsden’s 1949 race-winning Ferrari 166, one of Jean Rondeau’s Cosworth-powered coupés (built under 400 metres away in the Avenue de Panorama) and the 1978 winning Renault A442 as well as a number of tiddlers — CD & DB-Panhards and the like — which dominated the “Index of Performance” during the 50’s and 60’s. Amongst these is a very standard-looking Renault 4CV saloon of the type which raced here in the 501-750cc class between 1949 and 1953. Compare this with the Ferrari 166 and consider that big speed differentials have always been a problem at Le Mans!

“La course est immortelle” — Charles Faroux

However dismal the rest of the Sportscar World Championship may have been so far this year and however tentative its future may look at present, there will always be a Le Mans 24 Hours, whether the world series survives or not, that much is clear. June approaches again, so it’s time for the annual trek across the English Channel, for arguably, the World’s greatest motor race.

At the time of writing, there is still some time to go before entries close (the closing date has been extended because of the appalling hash that Paris has made of the 750 kg free-fuel sports prototype regulations — and the correspondingly low number of entries received for the championship), so with the Automobile Club de L’Ouest still waiting to see exactly how many cars, of what type, FISA will be delivering, this subject is largely a matter of educated speculation at present. However, it is worth observing that whilst “negotiations” were going on over the future of the race last year, Paris promised the ACO at least 50 cars — though it will be interesting to see how they will reach this figure based on the existing SWC entry of less than 20 machines. With only 11 teams registered, it would need each of them to post an average of nearly 5 cars each. Granted, each registered team can enter as many cars as they wish and they are allowed to sell or lend their slots to private teams using the same make of engine. This will probably mean that we should see the usual phalanx of Ford Cosworth-powered hardware (thanks to Jaguar, Euro Racing Spice and ALD) and just as many Porsches as usual (Kremer, Brun and Salamin). Peugeot could get the tiny WM-Secateva outfit into the race, but Mercedes and Mazda have few options — and Nissan none at all….

No doubt, however, there will be something approaching a full field come race-day — or else we will be watching a rather reduced spectacle on Saturday and an almost non-existent one on Sunday. . . . That itself might be the the final catalyst to make the ACO rethink the whole raison d’etre of their event — and perhaps consider extracting themselves from the WEC/WSPC/SWC mire by finally ignoring the championship entirely. Would it be too contentious to suggest that they could take up an idea espoused by Motor Sport for a while now — and return the 24 Hours to its roots, by opening the race mainly to production-based cars, with perhaps a restricted class for prototype machinery?!

But let’s ignore the background of politics and assume that you are indeed going to the Sarthe and would like some useful information to help you properly enjoy one of the world’s great motor racing festivals. What tickets to buy and where to watch, park, eat, sleep, wash and go to relieve oneself. In fact all the little things that make the difference between a great and thoroughly miserable weekend. . .. Here then is our guide to the 1991 Vingt Quatre Heures du Mans. . . .

How to get there:

There are three main ways to get to the race:

1) By Coach on an all-in package with a tour operator.

2) By Air, usually again with a tour operator.

3) By Car, usually independently.

If you haven’t made any arrangements for coach/air travel already, it may not be too late even now. In the case of coach trips, firms such as Page & Moy (0533 524344), GPR Travel (0622 687289) and Chequers Travel (0304 204515) tend to send as many units as they need to — because most of the clients on these tours don’t require (and couldn’t get anyway!) any hotel accommodation — all that is needed is a space in one of the coach parks on Saturday night. You sleep on the coach — and these tours certainly offer excellent value for money — though you have to be ready to rough it for the weekend. You will also be expected to return to the bus promptly after the race for the journey back to the Channel ports and a night crossing.

Similarly, there may be spaces left on one of the charter flights direct to Le Mans aerodrome. These tend to leave regional airports in the UK early on Saturday morning, for arrival at Le Mans around mid-morning. You sometimes get a tent provided on Saturday night (or a bus-trip to a very distant hotel) as part of the deal — because you don’t have a coach to sleep in. The return flight will leave quite soon after the end of the race and have you back in the UK late evening Sunday — try Page & Moy, GPR or Air Track Services (0895 70921).

A large number of spectators from Britain travel over using their own, or more often, a shared car, using one of the numerous Channel crossings. There may be some spaces left on the Friday/Saturday crossings — but unless you are prepared to travel earlier in the week (and take in practice) — we wish you the best of luck! All the main ferry operators offer services to the Channel ports and in choosing which crossing to take, one has to balance the equation of cost and availability against crossing-time and distance-to-drive. Here are some pointers as to the best routes:

By Road:

Dover Eastern docks/Folkstone to Calais/Boulogne (Sealink-Stena and P&O European). Dover Western docks to Calais (Hoverspeed).

Frequent crossings under 2 hours (75 minutes Dover-Calais ferry or 35 minutes Hoverspeed), so you won’t need a cabin and therefore only pay for car and passengers (also with all the following check for special 5-day return fares — or even 60 hour if you are really pressed). Both ferry companies are using much improved and modernised vessels, with reasonable-to-good catering — compared to some of the plague-ships we can remember within the last 5 years! Dover terminal offers excellent facilities and both French ports are relatively easy to drive out of (Boulogne is preferred).

Road route: N1 Calais-Boulogne. N1 Boulogne-Montreuil-Abbeville. N28 Abbeville-Neufchatel-en-Bray(by-pass)-Rouen. N138 Rouen-Bernay-Alençon-Le Mans. Approximately 240-260 miles, so allow yourself a clear 6-7 hours for the drive. This route is all on good, mostly straight, but undulating roads. On weekdays and Saturdays, however, there are a lot of slow-moving lorries about, which, with few stretches of dual-carriageway to allow passing, can slow you down somewhat. The really big disadvantage of this trip is that it takes you through the middle of Rouen (there is no practical way round), which is so badly congested and poorly signposted that it can take up to an hour to cross. However, just to the south of the town, in the forêt de la Londe, is the old French GP circuit of Rouen-les-Essarts, which is worth a visit if you have the time.

An alternative route from these ports would be on the A26/A1/A11 Calais-Arras-Paris-Chartres-Le Mans Autoroute (from Boulogne take the N42 and join the A26 at junction 3). This would be quicker, but is entirely on expensive toll roads — and virtually obliges you to endure the horrors of the Paris ring road — definitely not recommended!

***

Newhaven to Dieppe (Sealink)

Fewer crossings, each taking 4 hours — and the Newhaven terminal can only be described as primitive at best. Also, on our last trip back through there, the British Customs took an incredibly long time processing all the vehicles. Dieppe, however, is easy to get out of (but paradoxically awkward and circuitous to get back into). The route is approximately 195 miles which takes up to five hours to drive. The same comments as above apply regarding road conditions — and of course you still have to get through Rouen.

Road route: N27 Dieppe-Rouen. N138 Rouen-Bernay-Alençon-Le Mans.

***

Portsmouth to Le Havre (P & European)

3 crossings daily, which take between 6 hours (day) and 7 hours (night) — so unless you are more resilient than we are, you will need a cabin to have a rest — so add this cost onto the crossing charges. The Portsmouth terminal is reasonably good and Le Havre is the easiest of the French ports to exit from. The 140 mile (3-4 hour) journey to Le Mans is a reasonable one, but is a little tricky early-on if your map-reading is weak.

Road route: A15 Le Havre docks – Pont de Tancarville. N182 Pont de Tancarville-Pont Audemer. D810 Pont Audemer- Lieurey. D834 Lieurey-Bernay. N138 Bernay-Alençon-Le Mans.

***

Poole/Portsmouth to Cherbourg (Brittany and P&O European)

Two good jumping-off points at the British end, for crossings that vary between 4 hours 15 minutes and 7 hours (day or night) — so a cabin would be a plus. Cherbourg is a depressingly tatty place (do any last-minute shopping elsewhere), but is very easy to get in and out of. There is, however, a very pleasant run of 170 miles (4-5 hours).

Road route:/strong> N13 Cherbourg-Caen. N158 Caen-Argentan-Sees. N138 Sees-Alençon-Le Mans.

***

Portsmouth to Caen Ouistreham (Brittany)

A longish 6 hour crossing — but the shortest drive from coast to circuit (95 miles — 3 hours maximum) on a very pleasant and usually uncluttered road. Ouistreham itself is a piece of cake to exit, but Caen can be a bit of a bother — if you don’t keep your wits about you. Incidentally, Brittany Ferries offer an excellent 10 day-return deal.

Road route: D515 Ouistreham-Caen. N158 Caen-Falaise-Argentan-Sees. N138 Sees-Alençon-Le Mans.

***

Portsmouth to St Malo (Brittany)

Two crossings a day, which at 9 hours are the longest of the lot, so a cabin is an absolute must. But as this route is really designed for Brits planning on touring North Western France, during the off-season (as June is), you stand a far better chance of getting a late booking. St Malo itself is an absolutely charming place, with a yachting marina and a huge walled bastion (blitzed by the allies during the war and rebuilt) with many shops and restaurants and is well worth a stop. The town, however, is a bit of a bore to find your way out of and after you have got past Rennes — which is a pleasant cosmopolitan town and also worth seeing — the road gets a bit bland. The route is 140 miles long with 4 hours a maximum time needed.

Road route: N137 St Malo-Rennes. N136 Rennes by-pass (follow signs for Laval). N157 Rennes-Laval-Le Mans.

Contacts:

Sealink-Stena Line: 0233 647047. P&O European Ferries: 0304 203388. Brittany Ferries: 0705 751833. Hoverspeed: 0304 240241.

Once you are in Le Mans, and on all the major approach roads (and many of the minor ones too) leading into the town, the directions to the various car parks, and therefore the circuit (which is to the south of the city) will be marked by appropriately coloured arrows put up by the ACO below the permanent traffic signs.

Where to stay:

Hotels

By now there will be absolutely nothing in the way of hotel accommodation to be had in Le Mans, or within an approximate 40-mile radius during race week. Everything is block-booked at least the year before, so unless you have some inside information, resign yourself to sleeping in the car/coach or on a campsite.

Camping

Any rosy mental image that you have of a continental campsite will be immediately vaporised on your arrival at Le Mans. The on-circuit sites are definitely not for the faint of heart or those concerned with the niceties of ablution. The sites themselves are OK, it’s just that by mid-week the huge press of fellow enthusiasts will have strained the limited washing and toilet facilities to breaking point (literally)! These campsites are, however, amazingly cheap (£16-£25 for the week) and bookings can be made at the ACO Service Location in advance or on arrival — though probably only the dreaded Camping Houx will be left by then. Houx is the largest site and is situated in the centre of the course — between the Bugatti Circuit and the Mulsanne Straight — and is famous for its good-humoured but loud all-night parties. . . .

Spectators arriving by coach should probably not bother bringing any camping gear, as the campsites are generally situated an inconveniently long and tiring walk from the coach parks. Better to spend an uncomfortable night on the charabanc.

Parking

There is ample official parking at the circuit — of two types, reserved and unreserved. If you have not done so already, it is probably too late to obtain a reserved parking space. For approximately £14, however, you get a generous space marked with a little white numbered bollard — and of course a correspondingly numbered window sticker for the car in the same colour as your enclosure (Rouge, Blanc or Vert). Reserved car parks are fenced-off and strictly policed and operate on a pass-out system, so make sure that anyone who needs access to your vehicle — for sleeping or eating etc, comes in with it. The reserved car-parks also all have basic washing and toilet facilities — but please note that large camper-vans are not permitted.

The unreserved parks provide only a parking space and you have to take pot-luck of course — however don’t despair because there always seems to be a space somewhere. . . . Access to unreserved parking — again Rouge, Blanc and Vert — will cost about £7 during the race and is free during practice. Incidentally, camping is not permitted in any of the car parks, though you can sleep in your car and prepare meals by it.

On the Circuit:

Tickets

There are two basic types of ticket available into the public enclosures. Enceintes des Virages (about £16) and Enceintes Generales (about £29), both of which can be purchased on the circuit.

Both tickets are valid for the whole week including all practice sessions. The former, however, will only allow you into the Mulsanne and Amage bend enclosures. You will not be able to get onto the pits straight enclosure, the funfair or the “village”.

So unless you are really short of cash it would be best to purchase an Enceintes Generales ticket. This allows free access to all public enclosures. Also during practice you can get into the Grandstands (Tribunes) for nothing — with the exception of “Citroën” which is the ACO HQ and Press facility. It is worth noting that for the first time, there will be no public access allowed to the paddock area on any ticket.

Unless you have already taken steps to obtain them, it is already too late to obtain a Tribune ticket (costing between £20-42), though there may be a slight chance that one or two seats in the smaller Tribunes (“Wimille” and “Singher-Durand”) at the extreme end of the pits straight might be available for purchase. These will only be obtainable from Service de Location on the ground floor of the Tribune “Citroën”. You will also be able to purchase any reserved parking spaces that are still available and also possibly copies of the race poster and stickers.

Tribune tickets, however, really are of little importance, because even if you can only afford the most basic admission ticket — all enclosures will give excellent viewing opportunities, probably the best to be had for the money anywhere in the world.

One most important thing to remember is that all enclosures are controlled by the use of a “pass-out” system. When you leave any enclosure to go into one of a lower category you must obtain a pass-out ticket and keep it. When you wish to return to that enclosure you will have to surrender the pass-out and show the appropriate entrance ticket as well — if either is missing, I’m afraid you’ve had it. . . .

The Plain Spectator’s Circuit Guide:

If you have travelled by coach or by air you are really limited to viewing the race from around the start/finish area. This is not a particularly great restriction if you are on your first visit, because you can access on foot the whole of the track from “White House” all the way round to Tertre Rouge at the start of the Mulsanne Straight.

The Pits and Start/Finish Area

Even if you aren’t fortunate enough to have obtained a Tribune ticket — don’t despair because unlike other circuits, it is quite possible to get a good view of the start and the new pits complex (see separate feature) from the enclosure below the stands. This area is banked and terraced, so unless you are particularly short in stature you will be able to get a good view.

If you really cannot bear the crush, you can watch the start of the race from other points in the immediate vicinity such as the Dunlop or Ford Chicanes and the Esses. Indeed if you are prepared to forgo the frantic early race pitlane activity, you will probably be able to see more of the real nose-to-tail action on the track at these points. Standing at the Esses will allow you to see one of the classic spectacles of motor racing as the field comes stormng over the brow of the hill under the Dunlop Bridge for the first time and streams out into the country.

Most spectators, however, cannot resist the razzmatazz of the build up to the race, which starts in the morning with the free warm up and continues thereafter to the start at 4 o’clock with on-track displays, parachute jumps, presentation of the drivers, pushing of the cars onto the grid and finally the thunderous rolling start after a warm up lap under pace.

Within a few laps most of the more tentative entries will be exposed and start their rebuilds in the pit lane and within the first hour the leaders will be thinking about their first visit for fuel and fresh tyres — so there is plenty to see.

The pits area forms something of a natural amphitheatre with the tribunes towering on one side and the monolithic pits on the other and there is definitely a gladiatorial feel to the proceedings. Because of this, the pits straight continues to be the focus of the race, and for a keen photographer with a long focus lens it presents many fine picture opportunities. Particularly so after dark when it turns into a glowing metropolis of lights and bustle.

Ford Chicane

As the crowd drifts away to the other attractions after a while, try moving down to the exit of the Ford chicane. This is always a great place to find out who is really trying and who is soft-pedalling as they accelerate out of the corner and down the pits straight. It’s also a good place to watch because the early casualties stagger into the pit lane at this point.

The more courageous (or inept) drivers will jump their cars over the rumble strips on either side of track as they find the fastest line, and the wide discrepancy in driver ability is readily apparent in the ruck, as the groups of cars jostle for position through the complex.

Technical Section/White House

Further back down the course towards White House is a good place to watch the faster cars jinking in and out of the slower traffic through what is known as the “technical section”, though because there is extensive Silverstone-style high wire fencing and no embankment to speak of, its appeal is rather limited.

“White House” only exists on the circuit in name now, though the old section of track and the building after which it was named (now painted beige), are still there slighly to the west. If you can spare the time to have a look — do so, but most of the atmosphere has now gone, because the ancient armco has been removed and the peeling trackside adverts that were on the buildings until last year have now been painted over by the current residents.

Dunlop Chicane and Bridge

If you walk clockwise round the circuit from the start, you come to what used to be the Dunlop Curve, but is now the Dunlop Chicane, built to slow the cars down as they crest the rise under the bridge and storm down the hill towards the Esses. Despite the early reservations of the drivers, this has turned out be an excellent place to spectate in the immediate vicinity of the start.

The wide sweeping right-left-right of the complex — with vast expanses of kitty-litter on either side, positively beg the more flamboyant drivers to enjoy themselves. Photographers will want to be on the outside of the circuit as the inside of the complex is rather distant from the track here.

Of course the Dunlop Bridge is one of the great landmarks on the track and the sweep down to the “Esses” is one of its great panoramas.

Famous landmark though it is, there once were two Dunlop Bridges, both built immediately after the war. The second stood at the entry to Terte Rouge, but is now gone and the grandfather of the present one stood just beyond the end of the pits straight before being rebuilt at the top of the hill in the 1960’s for safety reasons. The bridge was subsequently rebuilt again on the same spot in 1978 to allow widening of the track.

The Esses and Tertre Rouge

You can’t go wrong here — fine views from the spectator banking predominate, particularly on the outside of the track.

From the bridge all the way down to the start of the Mulsanne Straight at Tertre Rouge (red hillock) is one of the best places to watch the action during the hours of darkness and during practice sessions. It is no coincidence that this is the most popular area for photographers trying some night shots, so don’t trip over the army of tripods ranged against the spectator fencing.

At the bottom of the hill, the Esses snake through tall pine trees and the barrage of sound and lights as the cars bark past, combined with the close proximity of the funfair and the restless cacophony of the crowd and the public address, mean that the effect can be quite overwelming at times, capturing almost perfectly the essential spirit of the race. Incidentally the pine woods are a favourite sleeping area for the army of homeless fans with nowhere else to go on Saturday night.

For first-timers or lovers of the grotesque and the seedy side of life the funfair is an amusing diversion. Bearded women, strippers and the usual selection of overpriced rides, food and memento stalls dominate, but it is not recommended if you have any children on tow.

All the above areas are easily accessed on foot by those without any other means of getting about — all the following require some kind of transport, usually with a walk at the other end.

If you intend to get to the outer reaches of the course, Mulsanne Corner and Arnage are usually well marked by the organisers and traffic strictly controlled during the race. However we would strongly advise the purchase of the IGN (Institute Geographie National) Carte Topographie sheet 1719 Est which is the French Ordnance Survey map of Le Mans, the circuit and its environs. This can be purchased from most booksellers in town for about £4.

The Mulsanne Straight

It is generally stated that there is no access to the Mulsanne Straight during the race. This is not strictly true however, and certainly not if you arrive early enough to take in the practice sessions.

There is of course the famous Restaurant du 24 Heures which is such a great favourite of the British fans and which stands hard by the track at the braking point for the first of the two Mulsanne chicanes. To gain access to this area during any track activity you will have to be able to prove that you have an advance booking for a meal at the restaurant or the Gendarmes will simply not let you pass. Access is from the D142 Le Mans-Ruaudin road just south of the hamlet of Le Gue des Auges.

Another less well known, but in our opinion far superior vantage point on the straight, is Le Ferme de Mulsanne Restaurant (0101 33.43.22.00.76) right on the outside of the “kink”. This is a terrific vantage point during practice (especially during the night sessions) but unfortunately the viewing area stands on private land, so again you will need to have an advance booking to the restaurant to gain access.

At this point most of the drivers will be accelerating hard away from the second Mulsanne chicane (though you cannot see it because it is obscured by a rise before the “kink”) and the sight of the headlights illuminating the haze-draped pine forests at dusk is an eerie one and not quickly forgotten.

Get to it from the D140 Ruaudin-Mulsanne road and the restaurant is signposted from there, though we would advise you to leave the car on the main road and take a 10 minute walk up the very narrow and car-choked access track.

Mulsanne Corner

Another piece of Le Mans history disappeared a few years ago when this corner was reprofiled to allow for the building of a roundabout to service a nearby supermarket. Until then it had been left virtually untouched since the the first race in 1923.

Instead of the cars plunging over the infamous hump at the end of the Mulsanne Straight and then headlong into the original sharp 100 degree right hander, they now snick gently right through a link road and then 90 degrees right again where the old signalling pits once stood. This land is owned by the ACO and in fact you will see a clubhouse standing infield.

That said, however, they did not really emasculate the corner and it remains a real test of driver nerve and the car’s braking system. Lots of kitty-litter here again so no-one will come to any harm if the drivers get overenthusiastic. The spectator embankments opposite give very good views of the whole corner.

The signalling pits are still here and this is again a favourite vantage point for night viewing as the teams hang out the illuminated lap boards to the drivers, having had the times over the phone from the pits.

Access is marked clearly, but controlled rigorously during practice and race although you have to put up with a 10 minute walk from the large free car park, which is some way away. Get there through Mulsanne village and follow the signs “Virage Mulsanne”.

Indianapolis & Arnage

Indianapolis is so called because in its early history, this corner was surfaced with bricks in the same way that the American venue used to be. It is a double bend, a fast right and tight 2nd gear left, quickly followed by the slowest corner at the Sarthe-Arnage, 1st gear and watch out for the slower cars. Both corners have limited means of escape in case of mishap and very solid armco barriers on either side.

These two corners are now the only ones which remain from the original 1923 circuit in more or less their original form. All the other comers that existed on the original circuit have been redesigned, adapted or just relocated usually in the very worthy name of safety — these two have not subtantially changed and as such are worth a visit before someone gets their hands on them!

Again viewing is excellent and to get there simply follow the signs from all directions marked “Virage Arnage”. Parking (free) is right by the entrance to the enclosure. One of the more attractive features of spectating here is that the atmosphere seems to be more relaxed than elsewhere.

One last tip though. . . . when you leave this enclosure, or any other round the back of the circuit for that matter, with the intention of getting back to the general area of the Pits, follow the signs marked “Garage Blanc/Rouge/Vert”. Clever map-reading will end up at a road block manned by a tired Gendarme, followed by an even longer drive back!

The finish of the race

Assuming that you are not one of the unimaginative individuals who “traditionally” invade the track before the finish, the very best place to watch is at the area adjacent to the Ford Chicane. Unless the officials and Gendarmes manage to control these cretins long enough for the cars actually to cross the finish line (the last time was 1984), the cars will be directed into the parc ferme immediately infield of the chicane for post race scrutiny.

Failing that, anywhere on the Pits straight is a good place to be as the walking wounded that have been waiting in the pit-lane, stagger breathlessly out onto the track with 5 minutes to go to the flag. Always good for lots of gallic gesticulation, flag waving and furious arguments. . . .

TICKET SALES:

Le Service Location, Automobile Club de L’Ouest, 19X72040, LE MANS, Cedex, France. Tel: 010 33 43.72.50.25 Telex: ACOUEST 720637, Fax: 010 33 43.72.69.83

LE MANS TOURIST INFORMATION:

L’Office du Tourisme, Place de la Republique, 72000, LE MANS, France. Tel: 010 33 43.28.17.22

TIMETABLE:

Tuesday 18th June: 0900-2200 Scrutineering.

Wednesday 19th June: 1800-2000 First daylight qualifying session; 2100-2300 First night qualifying session.

Thursday 20th June: 1800-2000 Second daylight qualifying session; 2100-2300 Second night qualifying session.

Friday 21st June: Rest day. Full list of qualifiers issued.

Saturday 22nd June: 1000-1030 Free warm-up; 1500-1530 Cars on the Starting Grid; 1600 Start of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Sunday 23rd June: 1600 Finish of the 56th Le Mans 24 Hours.

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