THE BIGGER PICTURE
At the time our columnist Nick Harris was writing this, it was raining cats and dogs at Le Mans and he’d had the usual nightmare journey into the circuit. But something is different this year. The place is ‘buzzing’. Could our Nick be warming to Le Mans after all these years…?
Sometimes we so called journalists can get things out of perspective. The French MotoGP Grand Prix at Le Mans is a prime example of our somewhat one eyed opinions based on what suits us while totally losing what the event and MotoGP is all about.
To be fair there are plenty of reasons not to enjoy Le Mans if you are working there but the event is not about us, it’s about the fans and they just love the place. Over 100,000 are expected to pack the legendary Bugatti circuit on Sunday and most of them will have been partying all weekend. For many years the French Grand Prix was drifting. Average crowds, lack of entertainment at the circuit causing problems in the town and a general feeling of the racing out on the track was enough to keep everybody happy. It was not and so they did something about it.
This weekend it could not be a greater contrast – the place is buzzing. Rock concerts, public autograph sessions and rider appearances, stunt shows plus the fun fair with the obligatory dodgems and big wheel gives the place more the feel of a festival until the serious business of racing gets underway. Three French riders in the MotoGP class headed by a certain Johann Zarco who has propelled the popularity of the sport in his home country. After all, the last French premier class winner was Regis Laconi 18 long years ago and Zarco has reignited a flame with the French sporting public.
Sometimes you have to forget your own problems and look at the bigger picture. I can assure you we are all fed up with the random road closures around the circuit that make the journey in a nightmare. Nobody enjoys having a big under-the-influence Frenchman jumping on the bonnet of your car and then exchanging pleasantries when you protest as you leave the circuit. Then there is the weather, but there is nothing anybody can do about that.
Although better known for the legendary 24 hour car race, Le Mans will stage its 30th Motorcycle Grand Prix on Sunday. That first 500cc race back in 1969 was won by Giacomo Agostini as he lapped the complete field. One thing we can guarantee in the 28 lap race on Sunday is that will not happen again. The weather – we can offer no such guarantees.
Le Mans may not be everybody’s cup of tea but those 100,000 fans on Sunday will not be drinking tea, I can assure you.