Lemans Classic 2012
Le mans Classic 5th – 8th July 2012
This was the second time we’ve done this event; the first time was in 2008.
Scrutineering didn’t go as well as we’d have liked as we were given a 5 minute penalty in each one of our 3 races during the 24 hour period. The reason for this penalty was that we were using an alternator to power the extra lights on the car for the night time stints. MSA scrutineers give an allowance for using an alternator instead of a dynamo for night racing. However the French scrutineers would not let us use this and as we didn’t have a dynamo with us, the penalty stood. Fortunately for us the other DB4GT’s we were racing against also had this 5 minute penalty for the same reason.
This was early evening on the Thursday; Tom drove the car first and settled in well. We were allowed to run Avon ZZ Radial tyres for the first time at this event, which suited the car’s handling.
After only 5 Laps which was 30 minutes into the 60 minute session, the red flags came out and the session was cancelled. Tom failed to come round so we expected the worse. Forty minutes later the car appeared on the back of a recovery truck and was dropped off back to our Plateau. The car was undamaged but had lost all of its engine oil, all over the race circuit, hence why the session had been cancelled.
Investigation found that the oil filter seal had popped out and was causing the leak, after much cleaning off the underside of the car and the interior as it had found its way everywhere the car once again looked immaculate. We was able to buy a new oil filter and seal from another competitor, so once fitted and new engine oil installed it was already for the night practise. Tom managed to qualify the car 8th out of 60 with a time of 5.08. This was 12 seconds quicker than his previous best.
Our night practise was scheduled for 01.50am and was a 48 minute session. The sessions were all running late and it was roughly 02.30 when the practise started. Tom started this session first, but with only 3 laps done, the chequered flag came out to finish the session. The other competitors that were in our Plateau along with us were not best pleased to say the least, but that’s how the French run their meetings, no warning, no reasoning, if you don’t like it…… don’t come.
Our first race was at 23.50 Saturday night. The race started with a rolling start, Tom reacted instantly and we were up to 5th before he got to the first corner, he continued to drive well although he did loose a couple of places due to the car ‘loosing power’. After 3 laps Tom pitted to hand the car over to Adrian for his fist drive of the race meeting. Adrian got up to speed straight away, although looking at his lap times, we’d thought he’d be quicker than he actually was. Next time past the pits we noticed that he had turned the headlights and the spots off and was using just sidelights. His lap times tumbled to what was expected. He continued driving like this to the end of the race.
The alternator had a problem with it and was not charging; therefore it was draining the cars battery. Turning off the lights was the only way to keep the car going, top marks for doing this and keeping us in the race! We finished the race 5th.
Our second race was at 08.00 Sunday morning. With a very damp track and the early sunrise making visibility difficult it was Tom who once again started. It was clear from the start that most teams had put their fastest drivers in first due to the difficult conditions, after lap 1 Tom had slipped down the order to P10, this is where he stayed until he pitted again on lap 3, his lap times were very good and with a drying track we knew we’d quickly move up the grid. Our timed stop went smoothly and Adrian was soon the fastest driver on track.
After all the scheduled stops we had moved up to 8th, with Adrian doing lap times that was a good 20 – 30 seconds a lap quicker than the cars in front of us it was just a matter of time before we passed them, with 1 lap to go we were in 4th position. Adrian managed to catch and overtake the car in 3rd just before he took the chequered flag. Once the results had come out we’d been promoted to 2nd as the car that had finished 2nd on track had received a penalty for their pit stop being quicker than the permitted 90 seconds.
Our last race was at 15.00 Sunday afternoon and was the final race of the event. We had a mock Lemans start on the grid for the spectators to watch. A Lemans start if you are not familiar with one is when all the cars lining up in grid order down the R/H side of the circuit at a 45 degree angle, the drivers then line up on the L/H side of the track and when the flag is waved they have to run over to their cars, start them and accelerate away. This was originally how the race would have started many years ago, however today it is deemed too dangerous and the cars are stopped on circuit, out of view and the drivers are properly strapped into their cars. The grid is then re-assembled and carries on around the circuit behind the safety car for the proper rolling start.
Tom was starting this race on the front row in 2nd position and got his usual great start, remaining in second position for most of the opening lap, however towards the end of the lap a Ferrari 250 short wheel base tapped the L/H rear quarter which spun Tom around hitting the barrier with the front L/H corner. After getting out and checking the car was still drivable he drove it back to the pits. After doing some minor bodywork pulling to stop the wheels fouling the body work, Adrian got into the car and hit the track in 60th position and nearly a lap down.
Incredibly after his 8 lap stint he’d worked his way up to 19th position and recorded a lap time of 4.56.8 which is the quickest time ever for a DB4GT to lap the circuit.
Pictures of this event are in our Gallery section.
In car footage is available to view in our ‘View Videos’ section.
More information on this event will appear soon.
Check back closer to the event date for an update.
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