Le Mans 1000 Km – Friday – 'Scrutineering' Report
”A Good Thraipsing”

John Graham is always interesting to listen to: he was the first driver we stumbled across this morning at scrutineering – at a new venue, on the Le Mans city ring road – a building usually used for car auctions (by the look of things).

dailysportscar.com“Here’s an idea for you media types. Why not have the European races in the winter – at say Paul Ricard, Jarama and somewhere in Italy. Now if I was able to say to my wife…’Honey, we’ve got to spend some of the winter in the south of France…’ Do you think she’d be pleased?

“Jon (Field) is here because he can go racing, at Le Mans, during what is otherwise the off-season. But look at the calendar now: no ALMS races from October to March, then a gap until after Le Mans. Most of our season is from late June to October. Let’s carry on in Europe after that, preferably somewhere warmer than where we’re standing now.”

R&S partner Rick Sutherland agreed. “All the North American guys are sitting around wondering what they can do for the winter. We can’t be in two places at one time…”

John Graham again: “Think of the North American teams that survive because they do a good job running drivers with budgets. This would help them by keeping them busy most of the year, and not allow them to get distracted by other races.

“We could race in November, December and January in southern Europe, then Sebring in March, back to Europe for the Le Mans Test Day, another European race then Le Mans, then back to North America for the rest of the ALMS.

“At the moment, all I can think of is what a long winter we have ahead.”

Interesting John, and definite food for thought.

Now, back to the Le Mans 1000 Km. “We’re eighth quickest in the Intersport R&S, and it’s a help to me that the engine and gearbox are the same as in the Panoz. There’s a very relaxed atmosphere in the team, which works very well. There are going to be three or four teams fighting for second place in the race. We’re going to be in the gaggle in the next group.

“I will be racing in ALMS prototype next year,” concluded John Graham.

So a wide open prototype race on Sunday – we hope (with the Audi the favourite, but the Pescarolo Courage was apparently quicker yesterday).

The Saleen was one of the earlier cars at scrutineering this morning and the driver lineup is Konrad / Seiler / Kaufmann. “Franz phoned me at 8 o’clock yesterday evening,” explained Wolfgang. “I set off at 2 a.m. from Germany and arrived here at 8 this morning. I had croissants for breakfast and met the team hours before they expected to see me.


“I last raced here on the Bugatti circuit in 2001, so I’ll check to see what changes they have made to the circuit. Franz tells me that he did a 1:37-something yesterday and we’re told that the Prodrive Ferraris did 1:36.5. I saw how well the Saleen went at Anderstorp where it was also very slippery. The Saleen has very good traction and Franz and the engineers really know what they are doing. I’m a bit worried though because we’ve got 30 minutes of free practice tomorrow and then qualifying.”

Andy Wallace turned out to be in the same boat. . . .

dailysportscar.comTim Sugden is “really enjoying driving the 550. I’ve got a problem with the seat position because the wheel is too close to me. These other guys must have really short arms, But the gearbox is incredible and the whole car is user friendly [traction control, power steering] and the only problem I’ve got is with the brakes. You have to press the pedal very hard, but I like to be very precise heel and toeing. Some of the other guys brake with their left foot so they can really stand on the pedal. I struggled to press it hard enough.”

Tim Sugden was still very upset by the death of Steve O’Rourke. He’ll pay his respects next week.

Pete Le Bas was on fine form—at least until he found about the scrutineering issues of the Corvette. He persuaded a member of the ACO to take him around the circuit yesterday, but Monsieur ACO was alert to the dangers of the Irishman driving his Renault and declined to let Mr. Oversteer take the wheel. “So I took my rental car out for ten laps. The hubcaps took a bit of a bashing against the kerbs.

dailysportscar.com“I did a 1:49 in my first flying lap in the Corvette and got that down to a 1:46 straight away. Amanda Stretton saw me approach the Dunlop Chicane and was very impressed with my turn in speed. . . but I didn’t make it through without spinning. I had a tear in my eye the first time I turned onto the pit straight at this place.”

It was tears of a different sort later in the day.

Eddie Hinckley has seen it all before. But here he was with the Veloqx Care Racing Ferraris. He felt that they were the favourites of course, but was anything but complacent. NB. Both 550s are fitted with pitot tubes.

Sandwiched between the two Veloqx 550s at scrutineering was the #30 Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari 360 Modena, together with its (potentially) four drivers. The team may be new to the GT scene, but the talent and experience involved – with Ferrari and at Le Mans – indicates that this is a serious project.


Marino Franchitti (right above, with Tim Mullen on the left) is well known to dsc readers on both sides of the pond and is delighted to get back in the driver’s seat after a frustrating year – this is his first race since Sebring. “I’ve spent the last seven months keeping fit and talking to various people about 2004. The damage to the (Rizi Competizione) car at Sebring took five months to repair, and by then we had missed everything. I’ve only driven 20 laps (of the Bugatti Circuit) here so far, but it’s just heaven to be back behind the wheel after so long,” the young Scot explained.

Alongside him are Lewis Carter and Chris Niarchos, the winner and runner-up respectively of the UK Ferrari Challenge in 2003. Also present is former Veloqx GTO driver Tim Mullen who explained his role thus; “The team asked me to be here to test the car and help get up to speed quickly, and I’ll help as much as I can. They want me to race but the lineup was decided a long time ago. I’m still waiting to find out if I’m driving tomorrow.”

Another familiar face is that of crew chief Vince Moutrille, who brings with him a wealth of Le Mans experience gained with (amongst others) Cadillac, Prodrive and, most recently, NASAMAX. He explained that this is the first time that the full team had worked together and that this is very much an evaluation exercise for 2004. FIA NGT would appear to be the logical route.

With no running on-track today, the team was one of the few undertaking any activity in a very quiet pitlane, using the time to check seat and belt fittings. The car is beautifully presented and we will follow their progress this weekend with interest.

In the Lister garage, it was a case of throwing more and more effort at the Storm LMP – with increasingly satisfying result. “We missed running on Tuesday,” said JC-W, “because Laurence was at an FIA GT Technical meeting in Paris. But Wednesday went really well, and we completed about 65 laps. Yesterday was frustrating though: we had a problem with the brake master cylinder, which the guys fixed before the end of the session, but then we had a long pedal. That confused us all, but it turned out that a plate we’d fitted to allow Tom (Coronel) to rest his heel had altered the brake ratio to the master cylinder, and once we took it off, the brakes were fine.

“We want slight understeer everywhere, but we’ve got that on some corners but turn-in oversteer on others, which is making driving a little more difficult than it should be.

“Laurence is like a man on a mission with this engine. He won’t stop until he’s got the power that he wants and he’s promised us 60 more reliable horsepower for a Christmas present. “

Tom Coronel was having a great time in the Lister. “The car is really easy to drive, especially under braking. So you can brake so late but it is still easy to control. The car is unbelievably ugly, but it is so ugly that it is beautiful. And it’s fun factor is very high. “

The Lister should start it’s first race from a grid on Sunday.


The all-important question: Did Andy Wallace reach 146 mph in his Audi A3 Turbo Diesel on the way to Le Mans?

“No, I didn’t make it. The temperature was 16.5 degrees, which is the same as coming down for the test day. So I did a 144.5 mph again. “

A quick bit of calculator work and Andy arrived at the fuel consumption of 39.2 mpg. “And I gave it a really good thraipsing.”

We hadn’t come across the verb ‘to thraipse’ before, and had to check the spelling with AW.

Andy did two laps of the track yesterday, on foot. He nearly wore out a pair of shoes testing the grip of the track and we’ll bring his conclusions next week. This is how you get to be this good.

“Jan decided that we wouldn’t run yesterday in order to save money.”

These are the Dyson Racing definitions for different levels of understeer:

Terminal Understeer
Black Jungle Understeer
Italian Gay Bar Understeer.


Yes, racing in the ALMS is a whole lot of fun with these guys around. The Le Mans pitlane had that same friendly feel about it this afternoon. We're down to 35, but it's going to be very entertaining. You wanted to know what happened at scrutineering? Well, do we ever really know? See the recent news item for one sad tale.

PS. A quiet day today, but it's going to be mayhem tomorrow, with short, sharp, 30 minute sessions until the conclusion of practice and qualifying in mid-afternoon. Will there be a good crowd? Well, apparently the cooler air helps the sound of the cars to travel further into the city of Le Mans, so there's no excuse for the French citizens not knowing this event is taking place.


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