My Pink Half of the Drainpipe
A phone call from Lola’s PR guy Sam Smith while I was on holiday in Ireland
started the whole weird Silverstone weekend. “I’m lost, just outside Dublin and
looking for a Japanese Garden,” I responded to his opening question. “That is not
something you do every day,” he responded, impressed.
A holiday with the family was interrupted by the Le Mans Endurance Series race
at Silverstone and after the first two instalments, we were all looking forward to it.
Would the Zytek do the job? Would the Audi pair have yet another stunning inter
team battle? How much of a victory would there be, and what would happen this
Too Much Guinness
Attached to the Japanese garden, which took you through the life of a young
couple who meet, fall in love, cross the bridge of engagement (in two bits,
signifying the two separate lives), splitting up, re-joining, and then climbing the
Hill of Disappointment, was a stud farm.
There, horses were farmed out to “cover” (well, it is a Catholic country) between
70 and 120 horses a year, at 85,000 Euro a time. Four years of racing, 15 years of
“covering”, this horse had struck gold. No Hill of Disappointment here, and I am
switching religions to one that includes re-incarnation as a horse.
So I flew home, leaving the family to the delights of Irish pubs, horses and bizarre
gardens, while I headed to the wierdness of Silverstone. There, photographer
Brooks went into overdrive before the weekend had even begun when he found
out that Cottonballs scribe Michael had gone to Waitrose 60 miles away for the
weekly food shop, with Brooks’ cameras in the boot of his car.
The paddock rapidly found out about this escapade much to Michael “No I didn’t
bring you a bloody sandwich” Cotton’s frustration. Without cameras Brooks
unleashed himself on an unsuspecting paddock. Stephane Ratel’s new facial
topiary, we were informed, made him look like one of the Bee Gees; we think
Maurice, but none of us professes to know the warblers well enough to be sure.
My own sojourn to the paddock saw an encounter with Mrs Minassian, who
threatened a punch after reading Nurburgring’s report in which I reported her
thumping a marshal, and left her husband to describe the rest of the paddock.
“That Rob Barff, ‘e is a wankerr” he said on Saturday before his car packed up.
“He wasn’t on the track at the same time as you, Nicolas; that was Justin Keen.”
“Oh, then ‘e is a wankerr, too. Don’t use their names. Actually, I don’t care, they
shouldn’t be wankerrs…”
That we were firmly in Bingy Bongy land was confirmed when the grid girls found
that their changing room was attached to the press room. Typing fingers hovered
over the keyboards as nubile young ladies headed beyond the closed door. It was
quite some time before anyone could resume their concentration not helped by
aging snappers' imaginations running wild, babbling on about baby oil and hot
Bristol City 1.........
It is not often the totty count is quite so high at the UK races but everyone raised a
smile when Elodie, Larbre Competition’s pneumatic ‘team manager’ who was
dispatched to the Monza podium all those months ago, was initially kept well
away from the prize giving this weekend by officials now wary of Jack Leconte’s
sense of humour.
Leconte’s antics seemed to have backfired when he fired up the engine of his
Larbre Competition Ferrari 550 Maranello on Thursday night in the garage outside
of acceptable hours and received an official warning. Perhaps in retaliation, a
local farmer spread slurry on his fields on Saturday afternoon, mid race, ensuring
the heady smells of fuel and rubber were interspersed with a healthy dollop of
Silverstone had a crowd of around 14,000 people, despite only having around six
weeks to promote the event thanks to the late signing of the contract. A concert
was laid on, and all credit should go to the British track for a bit of positive
thinking. What makes all the sports car races so great? What links Le Mans,
Sebring, Petit Le Mans, the Spa and the Nurburgring 24-hours? Camping, and
Silverstone found itself with 1000 happy campers dancing to the disco laid on
outside the paddock on Saturday night after the race.
I am not sure about the choice of music, “It’s raining men” at a motor race? If the
series is looking to expand next year, they must work to change attitudes of circuit
promoters and get them to lay on such facilities (though with different music – and
for God’s sake don’t ask our own Maurice). It was comparable to the
Oschersleben launch of the Porsche 996 GT3RSR last year, at which a load of
roller skaters fell over quite a lot.
Back to the racing, and Robbie Kerr and Chris Dyson had a dream start to their
weekend in the Zytek, the British driver setting a stunning pole position, 1.6
seconds faster than anything else. “I’m obviously getting old” said Audi’s Herbert
as he looked at the time sheets. The Zytek was mega around the British track,
Kerr, on his endurance racing debut, similarly spectacular. Dyson was no slouch
either and has obviously had some great tuition from the likes of Wallace, Weaver
and Leitzinger over in the US.
The American has now driven the MG, the Dome and the Zytek, and is in the
process of finalising a deal to run with Kerr at Spa next month. The pair worked
well together, Kerr thoroughly enjoying himself before he and Justin Keen
collided, spinning the Lister and forcing the Zytek into an unscheduled stop. Keen
and his partner, Rob Barff, had a few incidents with a number of cars, an
unnecessary blot on the race for the Lister which was having a rather reliable,
If ever there was an argument to have a mixture of classes, the LMES at
Silverstone was it. Kaffer pulled a stunning move on Davies at Club Corner, but
could not make it stick. Then Kerr had a go at the German a few laps later. A
backmarker was in the middle of the same spot when Kaffer chose the inside line
past him, Kerr the outside. “I wasn’t expecting that,” said Kaffer. “I couldn’t do it,
and I couldn’t believe how fast he was on that line. I just gave him room when I
The Audi was again the superior car, Kerr and Dyson eventually falling away with
a couple of incidents that robbed them of a fantastic and well deserved result.
Even an ill-handling Team Goh Audi came home ahead of them which was no
justice at all. Jean-Marc Gounon, Alexander Frei and Sam Hancock raced to
another victory in the Courage C65 which is about to launch into a race across the
globe to race at Elkhart Lake for next weekend’s ALMS race in the hands of
Stephane Daoudi and Roman Rusinov won the GT class as Sascha Maassen
and Adam Jones stopped their Cirtek car in the second hour with a broken
engine. The Freisinger Motorsport Porsche had a broken power steering system,
the JWR car needed a clutch bleeding, the T2M Porsche a gear lever cluster
replacing. With the Porsches all in self-destruct mode, Xavier Pompidou, a vastly
under-rated driver, and Piers Masarati, rocketed through to second position in
class, a spectacular result in the four-year-old Sebah car.
So, now the dusk has settled on another great race, another Audi 1-2-3 but you
really have to see it to appreciate it properly. Don’t look at the result sheets, all you
Belgians, Germans, and enthusiasts. Get to Spa, take a tent, and enjoy some
great racing. Me? I’ll be there, but in the meantime I’ll head back to the Japanese
gardens. They make more sense than some things in life.