A Travellerspoint blog

May 2019

MotoGP Le Mans 2019

Day 1

This trip would be a slight reprise of the trip we did back in 2012.

As usual the Shuttle was late leaving the UK end. Only 40 minutes so not long.

Quiet if long no toll ride down. Made longer by blanket 80km speed limit outside towns. And innumerable roadworks and long detours or deviations as our French friends call them. Does that make us deviants!?

Neill led us up what looked like a farm track and back again when Wailly Beaucamp had the high street dug up. The detour seemed about 10 miles to cover 1 mile of work. The wonders of France. PS, no bugger working though.

First stop in the Rouen ring at a McD for WiFi and lunch. Second stop for petrol.

With the low speed limits Pepé managed 181.3 miles with loads to spare in the tank. Averaging over 46mpg. Neill's BMW 1600 was even better.

Just short of Alençon we stopped in "biker rest" stop organised by the local FFMC group. Free coffee etc but donations accepted.

And then to the hotel. We were later than anticipated but have room 6. Not very big but will do as we expect to be out in the day at the track.

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Dinner at Buffalo Gril up the road. An American style diner that had run out of steak!!! Plus they only had one beer available and not the one we wanted.

Day 2

Up early and breakfast taken in the hotel. We were away by about 0845 and the non toll road route took us the best part of 50 minutes.

In the Rouge car-park they check the bike and with a log book put a sticker on the headlight and matching receipt for you. As we didnt have log books with us we ended up with wrist bands.

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Then we were off with our chairs and waterproof trousers. It drizzled all-day. At least with somewhere to sit it was less miserable between practice and qualifying.

We'll a bit nearer the Dunlop bridge tomorrow.

On the way back we stopped at a war memorial to Leclerc's armoured division that battled locally after D-Day to capture Alençon.

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Once back and parked up we walked down to the local Lidl to get supplies for the race day. Food and drink at the circuit is very expensive and we didn't want to be stuck with what they would offer.

Then we had dinner at Buffalo Grill again. Tonight was Caesar salad night. Being on the edge of town there were very few (okay one!) option. Another restaurant that showed on Google maps didn't exist. Unless the converted it into a warehouse!

Day 3

Started off badly.

We loaded the bikes and Neill set off and I went to follow.

CLUNK!!

In all the messing about I had set off with the bright yellow disc lock still in the front wheel and we took a tumble in the car park.

Luckily I had my left foot on the ground but Pepé is a heavy bastard and my leg crumbled and I had to lay it down. It looked as though it rested on the left pannier.

One of the French guys ran over to help. Filled will embarrassment I had it on two wheels without much help. Adrenaline I guess!

The only damage was to the lock itself in that the key wouldn't unlock. It turned part way but the lock body itself was a bit skew-wiff in the casing..

Luckily another French guy (GS1200 owner) with an adjustable grip wrench broke the casing to get the key to turn. Otherwise I'd not be going anywhere. Phew.

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After that the ride down was a little odd as I was picking up every noise and weave in any uneven road surface as a problem of the tumble.

I couldn't see any damage to the bike, paint nor levers etc. More phew.

That set us back a little and we arrived at the circuit just before 9am. That included a stop at a village boulangerie for bread.

Nothing in the world can compare to a fresh French baguette.

There are vastly more bikes and we are in Row 21 rather than the 16 of yesterday. Also with the stickers we went straight in to park.

We found a space on the fence level up by the chicane again. A little nearer the screen than yesterday. There also seem fewer VR46 caps and other gear today. Today there were far more "fanboys" around and we seemed to be the only people that didn't have any rider apparel on!

Once again the Moto-E bikes haven't made an appearance apart from one bloke doing a single lap on a road bike.

In the Moto 3 class there is little British interest apart from John McPhee. And he won it. As he did in Brno in 2016. We sang the National Anthem. "God Save the Queen". There were other British about but they chose to keep quiet.

Moto2 was the first of a Marquez brothers benefit day. British interest was minimal with Jake Dixon on the Angel Nieto team Triumph. What a fantastic sound the Triumph triples make.

In the end there was a three Spanish rider podium.

I was down behind the VR46 grandstand at the end of the start/finish, queuing for the chance to pee up a wall in the official pissoir, when Marquez was on the podium. Suddenly loads of them in the grandstand starting booing and stamping their feet. Not very sporting. Rossi Fan Boys!

Back in position and before the MotoGP race there were speeches (in French) and then La Marseillaise. Hardly a whisper from the French. WTF? Tune into a rugby international and especially in Paris the French blow the roof off the stadium with their singing!

Our interest was in Cal Crutchlow who had qualified 15th. And a second choice of Jack Miller from Australia. And of course Valentino.

In the end Miller briefly took the lead in front of us before Mark Marquez cleared off. Jack eventually dropping to 4th behind the two works Ducatis. Valentino 5th. Cal got up to 6th at one point and faded to 9th.

With racing over the crowds thinned dramatically. We followed them and the queues to get out of the track and into the bike parks were enormous. It took an hour to walk about half a mile and get out of the parking with the bikes.

The system of sticker in headlamp and matching receipt is bolstered by having your log book. It works. It works better with a tiny grey bit of card like the French rather than a four page A4 doc like us!

The marshalling of the parking on the exits was terrible with about 30 lines of bikes pushing into 3 lines to get checked. It took another hour and a bit to get out and back to the south of Alençon. Getting in was fantastic but the exit arrangements were madness.

We stopped at McD for a McPee and a drink. The place was full of bikers coming and going all the time. Many with yellow UK plates.

This outfit parked in the space next to us. A CB11? In the sidecar was a child's safety seat.

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As it was too early to eat we returned to the hotel via Total. Another fill up.

Once again the goal of 50mpg wasn't to happen. The heavy traffic meant that I was only able to manage 40!!!!

All that 80kph and still that damned low!!

Well. All except for a blast when some knob on an R1 looked at me and smirked. Condescending berk! I dragged away from the lights and knobhead caught me up about 5 miles away when I was adhering to the limit..

We ate at Buffalo again. Neill "eat no red meat" had the chicken burger and me Tex mix of ribs, chicken wings and chilli con carne. Very nice washed down with a litre of 1664.

On the way back to the hotel I took a pic of the buffalo and the chess piece on the roundabout outside.

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Tomorrow it will be home and hopefully we'll get on an autoroute and give the bikes a bit of a run to clear them out!

Day 4

We decided to have breakfast in the hotel and then leave. It wasn't cheap but you could eat enough to make sure that lunch wasn't needed.

Over breakfast a couple of other guys said that there had been an accident after the racing and they couldn't get on the D338 from the Le Mans ring road.

It must have been behind us as we had no problems getting back to the hotel. We can only hope the riders are all okay.

We left at a few minutes to 10am. TomTom decided to come back a different way to the one we went out.

The N12 and N154 instead of the variants of the 138/338/438 that was formerly simply the N138.

The route includes some sections of dual carriageway and single. The limit goes up and down depending on whether there's a "median" or not.

The blanket 80kph limit outside towns stretched to 90 on some sections where they have a passing lane. Usually these were less than a kilometre! Must be fun on busy days stuck behind a truck!

We made good progress to Rouen and onto the A28.

We made a stop at the Bosc Mesnil services for a pee, bum rest and some of the snacks left over from Sunday. The little sausages needed the paper peeling off but tasted okay.

It looked as though the other northern dwelling bikers had gone on the A28 péage or a 138 variant as we saw very few bikes on our run up to Rouen. TomTom had said it was 25 minutes quicker.... Neill later said that it was free on the toll sections for bikes! Boring but probably much quicker.

The services were pretty packed (not just bikers) and I couldn't be bothered to queue for a coffee. Many of the cars and vans and occupants with their 46 stickers or yellow "The Doctor" shirts!!

Petrol at Nouvion Carrefour to tank up proved to be the most expensive of the trip but also the 50mpg dream was finally reached. Generally you can expect that hypermarket petrol stations are cheaper than any competition. Not here!

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We had a quick dip into the shop itself, Neill for some beers as he always does, and me to get some too, plus the de-rigeur local stuff to take to work, and something for us at home. Plus. Cheese.

A livarot. A particularly smelly cheese in the Camembert mode. I also bought a can of VR46 Monster Energy. Much cheaper than at the track.

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The last 55 miles shot past quite quickly and it was around 4pm as we pulled up to the tolls at Eurotunnel.

There weren't too many people and the only holdup was French customs working to rule. Must be a bugger to do the job you are paid for without complaining....

We were booked on the 1650 and we were loaded quite quickly. And. It left a minute early! Let that seep into your consciousness! A Shuttle train left early.

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I was home at about 4.43pm UK time. Another trip over.

P.S. Even over the short time the cheese was in the pannier it stank it out. Luckily nothing else was affected as they were in cans and jars....

A thoroughly enjoyable weekend that even the race day dropping of Pepé couldn't spoil. The fact that there seems to have been no damage apart from the lock itself is amazing.

I have since bought a yellow cord thing to remind me the bloody thing is attached. After joining the dickhead club, I don't want to try again.

Posted by InvictaMoto 13:42 Archived in France Tagged motorcycling motogp Comments (0)