I will admit to having got a bit nervous about getting the car back from Lee in time for Le Mans, but he has come through!
The 2008 Le Mans Classic has been something of an adventure. Having got the Hull-Zeebrugge ferry over & headed down to Le Mans to stay at the Morrisons farm again, all seemed well. I was accompanied in style, nay, overshadowed with style, as Caz brought along his newly restored a la ‘Christine’ Plymouth Fury. Cor she’s gorgeous!
The Le Mans Classic itself was very different from the 24 hour & a bit more to my liking if I’m honest. Ignorant fellow that I am, I can appreciate the much older cars more than the very latest diesel / hybrid technologies & on balance find the coachwork of an old Bentley Blower more interesting than the spoilers on the Audi R8. Oh dear! It was also great fun to get up close to the race cars, something you certainly can’t do at the 24 hour. There was in-field parking for Marcos, which although pretty dusty & a little off the beaten track, was pretty cool as you got to drive through the crowds & tunnels that are completely off limits during the 24 hour.
The highlight has to have been driving two laps of the full, official & current Le Mans circuit, with Dave Parslow kindly fulfilling media duties. It was fantastic driving round the track but spine-tingling stuff roaring down the finishing straight & over the line between the grandstands.
The lowlight was buggering my engine somehow. At one point I was throwing neat oil out of the nearside exhaust on my track laps which was a bit of a worry. However, once parked back up again in-field, the general consensus from people who know a lot more than me about engines (including a few people who built Mantis’s for Marcos!) was that the Ford 4.6L Quad Cam was pretty much bulletproof & even the race teams hadn’t managed to break them. Hence… I should be fine! On this basis I carried on driving the Mantis for the rest of the weekend, conscious that whilst all was not well I could enjoy LMC & look into things when I was back home.
The trip back up to Zeebrugge was not without incident. Caz’s Plymouth gave up the ghost whilst still in France, & I was beginning to wonder if I would make it as the car guzzled oil at an eye watering rate. By the time I was approaching the ferry terminal, I was stopping off at every garage I encountered to buy more oil, & arrived late (but not too late!) & with plumes of white smoke coming from the back of the car. By this point I was just glad to have made the ferry & looking forward to getting back to the UK. Upon arrival in Hull, a sympathetic ferry crew cleared the level around me of all vehicles & I was last off, trailing smoke again like a poor man’s Red Arrows. Having limped off the ferry & got through passport control, I pulled over immediately & called The AA. The car was flat-bedded straight to Topcats Racing who I felt were best placed to investigate & resolve the engine problem, whatever it was.
After a thirteen month wait, I had the car for around 10 days before it has become undriveable again… At least I didn’t have to worry about the chassis anymore!