Friday, 11 July 2014

Le Mans. Toyota Celica. Ian Burrows. Condor Ferries. Sea-sickness tips.

Here is Ian Burrows en route to Le Mans, with his splendid compact sports car Toyota Celica, which he built and customised himself.  I was parked behind him on the Condor Ferry to St. Malo, and saw many motor racing fans come up and admire the car. Last year Ian was very proud to have been invited to drive in the pre-race parade in Le Mans. 

The Japanese company Toyota produced the Celica from 1970-2006: the name comes from the Latin for celestial. Toyota Celica are cult cars well-known for their victories in rallies.  

The 24 Hours of Le Mans ( 24 Heures du Mans) is the world's oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since 1923 in the second week in June near the town of Le Mans in France: it is considered to be one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world. Commonly referred to as "the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency," racing teams have to balance speed with the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining mechanical damage, and manage the cars' consumables, primarily fuel, tyres, and braking materials. The endurance of the drivers is likewise tested, as drivers frequently stay behind the wheel for over two hours before handing duties over to a relief driver during a pit stop. Drivers then grab what food and rest they can before returning to drive another stint. Current race regulations mandate that three drivers share each competing vehicle.

The race is organised by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and runs on the Circuit de la Sarthe, a circuit containing a mix of closed public roads and specialist racing circuit meant to test two aspects of a car and driver: their ability to be quick and their ability to last over a 24-hour period. 

The Condor Ferry is cheaper than its rivals, but the Brits in Normandy and Brittany call it the vomit comet, as many people get seasick. The ferry company is however carrying out a vital service with these fast catamaran ferries.  I can certainly recommend the food between the Channel Islands and France, because it was home-made by French chefs. An excellent tip against sea-sickness is ginger ale, and passengers on Condor are advised to sit midships to avoid it.