Pre Le Mans
Monday And Tuesday
Perhaps there did used to be more news at Scrutineering a few years ago. These days, everyone is just sooo ready...well, almost everyone.

Max Angelelli confirmed the minor brake problem experienced by both Cadillacs at the Test Day. "It was so small, but it gave us a long brake pedal on both cars. Our testing has gone very, very well." Max wasn't prepared to predict what the Northstars might achieve in Qualifying, but from this side of the fence, a 3:38 or thereabouts seems realistic.

Panoz look unlikely to go for pole (or anything like it), probably settling for a couple of spots in the middle of the LMP part of the grid. They've made changes to the air ducting for the cooling system, perhaps more in the interests of reliability than speed.

Martin Brundle was happy to concede the pole already - to Audi. "I'm going to be trying very hard for pole position, and I'm sure Andy (Wallace) will in the other car, but I think you can expect to see an Audi on pole position."

Regarding Bentley's return, he and Butch Leitzinger were equally positive. Butch: It's great to see the way the French people have welcomed the Bentleys back after all these years." Martin: This is the biggest sporting event going on this weekend anywhere in the world. It's a good year for Bentley to come back to Le Mans."

The ITV F1 man explained his change of heart since crashing out here two years ago. "I decided there and then to stop racing. It was a big accident, the tyre going down at 333 kph. But I didn't stick to that decision."

Another experienced runner here is Francois Migault in the Pilbeam. Rowan Racing are very much trying to enjoy the Le Mans experience to the full. Testing with the bigger engine (3.4 litre) at Silverstone's club circuit brought an extra 9-10 mph on all the straights and with this, more suitable gearing and the revised aero package they expect to see a considerable improvement on their test weekend times. Their plan is conservative, with a finish the first priority.

Another car expecting to show a leap in performance from the test weekend is the Callaway in the GT class. Michael Colucci explained that they are much faster than the Porsche opposition on the straights and that at the test, Shane Lewis's leg injuries were preventing him braking hard. Shane isn't here of course, and that is a great, great shame. The Callaway is a very welcome variation in GT. Colucci feels that "the Porsche guys have dismissed our car, but we hope to spring a few surprises."

Gary Pratt at Corvette Racing had some clear, positive opinions on one of the Corvettes' rivals in GTS. "I'm concerned that the arrival of the Saleen will move the goalposts, as happened before with GT1. The Viper and the Corvette are based on mass production road cars whereas ther Saleen is a racing car converted for road use." He was involved with the development of the early Vipers, so "we knew what was required from the Corvette. The two cars are very similar in principle. A rear engined car like the Saleen has a big advantage anyway, and also has the smaller 'greenhouse' (cockpit) area." He suggested that rear-engined cars should be handicapped either with their wings or their weight limit. The implication was that major manufacturers will be put off from entering GT racing.

John Nielsen looked quietly confident as the #10 Team Goh Den Bla Avis Dome S101 was scrutineered this morning. Arriving in full race overalls on his motorbike, John professed not to care either about a battle for pole position or a head to head in the race with the second (Racing For Holland) Dome.

“It’s looking quite good for us at the moment, we have good speed and a sensible race strategy.” If this entry can keep it together a good result could well be on the cards.

Jacky Ickx will be hoping for a repeat of the 1998 GT2 (GTS) class result when the offspring of a Le Mans legend (Justin Bell) won the class in a Chrysler Viper. Derek Bell was famously emotional when his son called him to confirm that result. Now it’s Bell’s three-time race winning driving partner Ickx’s turn to cross his fingers and hope for the best. Jacky’s daughter Vanina will form part of the driving squad for the #55 Paul Belmondo Racing Viper.

The six times Le Mans winner is keen to see whether his 26 year old daughter could follow in his footsteps.

“The Viper is still a very quick racecar and will be a good introduction for Vanina into GT racing. She looks tiny in the car but I am sure she will do well.”

Was he ever tempted to join her in the team (as Derek Bell had with son Justin in 1995 and 1996)? “No, not at all. It has been over for me for 16 years now, you must know when it is best to stop and then stick to that decision. In any case I am quite sure that she is quicker than me now, I would never hear the end of it!”

The ever popular Jan Lammers was proudly displaying his Racing For Holland Dome S101 at scrutineering on Tuesday. The car is decorated with hundreds of black and white “tiles”, which were offered for sponsors at £1,500 apiece.

A delighted Lammers was able to confirm that 70% of the space had already been taken, meaning that dozens of sponsors who would normally not be able to dream of affording such high profile motorsport sponsorship, can now step out onto one of the biggest stages of all.

Jan is pictured with son Rayan, three, and daughter Sumaya, six. Perhaps the Racing For Holland team will have an all-Lammers line up in 15 years or so (as long as dad is still quick enough!)

Scrutineering was a little low key - perhaps related to the fact that there wasn't a public holiday this time. The Bentley drivers did stir a ripple of applause from the crowd this afternoon, but the truth is, we're all getting impatient for the track action to start.

MG are creating their own action - they're off to the airfield tonight, for some early evening testing.

Official website of the Le Mans 24 Hours
Official website of the Le Mans 24 Hours

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