Barff’s Le Mans Diary
Day Three – Wednesday Qualifying
on Monday, Tuesday was a day kicking our heels while the rest of
the field went through the technical inspections.
altogether more significant, as we built up throughout the day to
the first qualifying sessions.
It’s a strange
timetable though. No action on track until 7pm and then two, two
hour sessions with an hour’s break in between. Those of you
better at the maths than I am will realise that this means we would
finish at midnight - at least that was the theory.
The important thing in
both daylight and night time sessions is to qualify all three drivers.
Each of us in the TVR has to complete three laps.
The game plan was that
Richard Stanton would start the first session: he had no real time
in the car at the test days. Richard Hay would then take over -
he hasn’t driven with a sequential gearbox before - and I
would go last. At least that was the theory!
laps went well, and we were gradually nibbling away at the times
but taking no risks at all.
Richard Hay hopped in
and headed for the hills but radioed in with a problem almost immediately.
He had felt something was wrong with the handling and thought he
might have a puncture. With the kind of speeds we can reach here
it’s better to be safe than sorry, so Richard quite rightly
pulled over on the exit of Tertre Rouge.
He was absolutely
right, the car did have a slow puncture and if he’d continued
and had a blow out it could have been very serious, not just for
Richard but for the car too. The flailing remains of a blowout can
cause enormous damage to a racing car. The car came back slowly
under its own power after the session, with no damage at all.
So we missed the better
part of the daytime session with a silly problem and I would have
to do my daytime laps in the session tomorrow. No problem, I’d
be first out in the car for the night session, we could set a decent
time and all would be right with the world. At least that was the
What actually happened
was that I started the session and on my out lap, going through
Arnage, found water spraying up the screen and over the roof. It’s
a pressurised system and the pressure cap had obviously blown off.
I returned to the pits slowly, but was then waved in for a weight
check by the ACO officials. I ended up finishing my first qualifying
lap of Le Mans pushing the car over the line.
Worse still, the team
don’t know what caused the problem, but we decided to play
better-safe-than-sorry and get to the root of the problem. We would
miss the rest of the session and it will mean taking the engine
out overnight to check it out properly.
The car has tons of potential,
we now know where progress needs to be made and we have a better
expectation of where we should be in proper qualifying trim.
Of course it’s
frustrating when things don’t go to plan and of course I still
need to qualify in both sessions on Thursday, but we have made progress.
We’ve learnt a lot from the second car. We’ve done a
lot of really valuable chassis work and if things go to plan tomorrow
we’ll qualify comfortably and get some valuable race pace
practice laps in. At least that’s the theory!
put it into practice.