Remind me again - just why do the Brits hate Le Mans?

When the weather is good (as in the last two years!) this is a great weekend. Le Mans is a brilliant little town just stuffed with racing history, great restaurants (goes without saying in France!), excellent bars and just about the most convenient access to the track anywhere. We don’t even bother with a coach - you step outdoors of our hotel, walk 100m, board a very frequent tram, and you are dropped right at one of the entrance gates to the circuit!  Two years ago they introduced the trams, and fearing the worst, we still laid on a coach. On Saturday just 4 people took the bus....

It is our smallest European event however (in fact may well be our smallest period) -- this reflects the general negative feeling about the event in our largest customer base. However as debate rages about its qualities as a circuit (you can read a lot on David Emmet’s great blog there is simply no denying that this can be about the most stress-free,
enjoyable weekend in MotoGP.  And while the track has its detractors, this weekend showed again that we still get some pretty exciting racing here! (Do you remember Bradley Smith’s first podium? Chris Vermeulen’s first (and Suzuki’s only) victory? Marco Melandri’s “miracle podium” on the Hayate? Many more come to mind...)
See also photos from customer Ella Scaglioni

Our usual Thursday drink session at the wonderful bar/restaurant “La Mendigotte” was visited not only by our guest speaker Neil Spalding, but cronies Julian Ryder and Toby Moody entertaining us with their opinions...!

Friday after a brilliant day at the track for the few that made it; Neil entertained us officially giving one of his usual incisive and surprisingly easy
to understand analysis of MotoGP technology.  You can listen to this guy for hours...  Danny Webb & his brother James (BSB rider) dropped in unexpectedly and joined us for dinner.  He’s been a bit frustrated on the new Mahindra; he is more hopeful the recent round of tests have helped straighten some of the kinks (he is proven wrong sadly...).

Saturday threatened rain which never materialised; and we were treated to few surprises in the qualifying sessions (surprises are to be reserved for race day this weekend!) apart from our sheer
delight at yet another front row start for our favourite Italian Marco Simoncelli. In the evening a small group joined team Gresini and us in the paddock and got into everything - the pits, the pit lane, visit with LCR Honda, and of course the meal and a chance to have a chat with Marco. He is brimming with confidence despite the bad luck (and he admits much of his own making) at the previous two rounds.

Speaking of LCR Honda, we did our first ‘Team Experience’ package with them this weekend (usually we are with Gresini; but this year we are offering a few through LCR for people who have a special interest). Our Italian customer Ella was in MotoGP heaven, with full hospitality access and ample time to appreciate the LCR pit. And in doing so she met quite a few riders; and got invited to join them on the grid as umbrella girl for ALL THREE RACES! Danny Webb was the first lucky boy, Gresini’s Moto2 rider Michel Pirro was next, and Hiroshi Aoyama was one of only three times we have had customers of ours stand on the MotoGP grid! Sorry for all the photos of her... :-)

What can one say about race day? Any day that starts with the favoured champion taking a swing at the local hero (as Stoner did to de Puniet) is bound to be entertaining! The 125cc race was seat-of-the-pants with the Spanish rookie Vinales running the race of a hardened veteran and beating the man no one thought could be beaten, Terol. We live for this kind of upset!  The Moto2 race saw Marc Marquez finally taking a win after a zero point season so far; and more to our delight, Takahashi proved what we have been saying about him all year - he is one of the championship contenders.

But it was the MotoGP race that stole the headlines. Marco Simoncelli made a questionable pass on Dani Pedrosa, who crashed (and as it turned out broke his collarbone). While we are desolated about Dani, and we would be the first to admit that Marco’s pass was a bit ill judged, we feel race direction made an unwise decision to give him a ride-through penalty; costing Marco what would almost certainly have been his first podium of the year.  We know Marco will be disappointed but not discouraged by this incident - he is a world class rider and serious contender for champion in the coming years as he builds his experience (especially following incidents like this!)  We really hope Dani recovers as he is the man we keep predicting as champion and he keeps breaking something!

Yes, there are a number of issues Le Mans could work on to improve the circuit; but all in all, we can’t wait to come back!  Next year we will be expanding our offerings here; keep mid-May pencilled in your diary!

See all our Le Mans MotoGP offerings.


Grand Prix de France 13-15 May 2011