I was lucky enough to once again be a part of the Ginetta road trip to Le Mans, as Lawrence Tomlinson invited 50+ guests over to his chateau just outside Arnage for a long weekend at undoubtedly the finest race in the world.
As Ginetta guests ‘travel rep’ for the trip – my first task was to lead a convoy of vehicles from Ginetta HQ in Leeds, to Le Mans – with a stop off at Brands Hatch in between – leaving at 6am, two G40R’s and two G60’s began their pilgrimage to France, followed (not too closely) by our friends in Porsches, a Shelby Mustang and erm, a VW Polo.
After collecting a Ferrari, more Porsches and an Audi from Brands Hatch, we gunned it to Dover for our 12.55 ferry to Calais, aboard which was one of the trips highlights – you see, P & O Ferries treat all ther customers to a £10 voucher to use in their Duty Free store, and being the savvy little traveller that I am, I managed to collect four of these (thanks to the lovely Vicci Schultz and Tony Hughes for their kind donation) and put them towards a bottle of Chanel Number 5, some Clarins Face Cream and a bucket load of travel sweets.
Once high on sugar and smelling like Nicole Kidman, we were off once again and driving on the wrong side of the road through France – with several fuel and coffee stops on the way, many of which included me shouting “Une Café Au Lait” in a very French sounding Barnsley accent – we reached our home for the next few days.
Waking up and still feeling as though I was on a boat, Thursday saw me join Ginetta boss Lawrence Tomlinson for a cruise in the G60 around Le Mans (I say cruise, we actually got slightly lost) before heading to the circuit to collect passes and check out the paddock.
The privilege of working so closely with the boss, meant that I got up close and personal with the LMP cars, checking out a number of the garages, talking to mechanics and drivers, and even enjoying a coffee in the Aston Martin hospitality – Lawrence introduced me to Bruno Senna – it was all very exciting. (Yes, I STILL find myself starstruck).
Friday was the day of the parade – so after we enjoyed a lovely lunch in Le Mans town, and I saw the cutest marshal couple in Proban-town Julze and Rachel, it was time for Tony Hughes’ G60 to take part in the Supercar segment of the famous Parade Du Pilotes, whilst our G40R customer Tim Wheatly and G60 owner Hubert Krae demonstrated the G60 & G40R.
Race day was raining, and after ‘warming our cockles’ in the champagne tent, the Ginetta collective made their way over the Dunlop Bridge to watch the start of the race – and whilst I missed the start in 2012, I wasn’t going to do that again.
Hearing the call “Gentlemen, start your engines!” before the space-age machines appeared on the horizon was a real lump-in-your-throat moment, and genuinely brought home just how lucky I am to do the job I do, surrounded by so many great people.