LeMans Triumph Spitfire ADU 1B
SPARES, REPAIRS, RESTORATIONS, PERFORMANCE AND RACE PREPARATION
..a place to locate parts, standard, fast road and performance, for you car
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repairs, restorations, race preparation and
Four wheel alignment
.. build, technical info and races we have attended
with whom we race ADU1B
Fred Nicklin carrying out final checks to ADU1B
Army based transport between the paddocks and motorhome park
ADU1B out on track
Mark and Colin carrying out final checks
On the grid and waiting for the off
ADU 1B getting to leave the paddocks for the collecting area
Driver change - Barry gives Colin some on track information
Fred is surprised and pleased to find a picture of Team Triumph from 1964 in the Hotel de France album (he was even featured in the photograph!)
Le Mans Classic 2004 - 23rd-25th July
An truly extraordinary event for cars that had competed at Le Mans covering years 1923 through to 1978. A full 24 hours of racing with the competing cars split into six grids, each grid taking part in three races over the 24 hours, giving each grid a day, dusk or early morning plus a night time race. Each grid consisted of 60 cars per grid plus reserves, an absolute spectacular sight.
The 'LeMon' was entered into Grid 4 covering 1962 to 1965.
Good news received at JIGSAW, up until the week before the event we were still on the reserve entry list, but when we called the organisers on to chase race information, we were informed that we had secured a race. Such a tremendous relief to know that we would actually race, and that all we had done over the years and months leading up to Le Mans was worth it.
Sunday 18th July, a party, oh what a party! - a number of celebrations coincided with the 40th Anniversary celebrations of the Triumph Spitfires at Le Mans, these being Mark's 40th Birthday and Jo's parents 40th Wedding Anniversary, surely a good omen for success at Le Mans.
Monday-Wednesday 19-21st July - Final preparations - last minute preparations of the LeMon, motor homes, trailers and individuals were checked and double checked in preparation of the off on Tuesday afternoon, and an over night ferry from Portsmouth. Arrival at Le Harve was early Wednesday morning, giving us the opportunity to take a leisurely drive down to Le Mans, arriving at lunch time. Unfortunately the organisers were not quite ready for an influx of brits, but we were allowed onto the camping, and we made good use of the time selecting our spot and setting up our base for the coming long weekend
Thursday 22nd July - signing on, scrutineering & familiarisation - Mark, and team drivers Colin & Barry went to signing on the collect race numbers and team passes, whilst other members visited the local hypermarket for provisions for the team. Catering for 13 was a fairly big shopping trolley!
With ADU1B safely installed in her garage, an attempt was made to get hold of a scrutineer, somewhat difficult, however once secured he carried out meticulous checks of the car and its FIA documentation, noting just a couple of points for rectification prior to the race. With the scrutineers requests completed and a pass to race, a fourteen year dream had just been realised.
Later on that evening Mark, Barry, Colin and Peter took the team's Triumph 2500 PI support car out to reccey the circuit, or at least those parts still open to the public. A couple of laps gave them the only pre-race preparation and familization that they would get prior to the practice and race.
Friday 23rd July - notable visitors - a team meeting commenced the day, and as first practice would not be until 23.45, the day was our own. With the car installed in her garage and ready to go except for petrol, which had to obtained from the official pumps prior to practice. Mark & Peter went to check out other competing cars. Whilst in paddock 3, they were lucky enough to meet up with team mate, Johnny Herbert, with whom they must have made an impression as he was seen later in the day shouting 'TRIUMPH! TRIUMPH!'. At least we had one fan.
During the day lots of visitors made their way to garage 56, amongst them were Claude Dubois, who drove in 1965, and brought the car home second behind ADU4B. Another visitor was the son of Jean Jaques Thuner, who immediately phoned his father to let him know the car was at Le Mans, but unfortunately due to prior arrangements he was not able to attend the event.
During the entire time we spent at Le Mans there was a steady stream of people, many from the days when the cars originally raced, and to our delight virtually all had nothing but compliments. A true testament to the level of originality Mark and the team achieved in re-creating his replica.
Friday 23rd July - first practice - a pre-decimal penny flip determined the first driver out for practice, it being Barry Blakely, Our initial plan of out lap, two fast laps and an in lap, then a drivers change was somewhat way off the mark with timing, particularly as the session timing started when the first car passed the start line, and not the last car out on its first lap, and so Colin's session was severely cut short. But it is only fair to say that both drivers did the team proud, and the LeMon proved her worth.
Saturday 24th July - second practice - With the first practice session over, the car checked, team members eventually turned in around 4am. Although sleep for some team members was a long time coming due to excitement of actually having got here and gone around the famous track. Come 9am we were up for mid morning practice session, the car was refuelled and a water overflow bottle fitted, and Fred Nicklin recommended that the tyre pressures be reduced to compensate for heating whilst running. Colin was first out and a lap time of 6 min 26.578 qualified us at 54th out of 66, not bad for the car with the lowest handicap on the grid. A few final checks completed our preparations.
A quick lunch and forty winks had to suffice before Jo, Heather, Ian, Fred and Peter made their way to catch the bus trips around the circuit, unfortunately we missed the bus, but were offered the use of Charles des Moulins Taxi Service, somewhat different than planned but no less entertaining! Meanwhile Mark & Clara were being mobbed by Triumph enthusiasts in the paddock. It seemed that Le Mans had, for these few days, gone completely Triumph mad.
Saturday 24th July - First Race 20:24 - a late start greeted for our first race, due to trouble in a previous and the mock Le Mans starts, we however were to commence with a Le Mans start with Barry first out. Having reformed for the rolling start (race proper) Barry quickly gained places during his three laps, and just as we were due in for our pit stop the safety car was deployed because of oil on the trace. A smooth pit stop saw Colin make his way down the pit lane only to find himself in fourth in the queue waiting to be allowed back on track after the safety car. The race passed all too quickly, but good news was that we finished in 40th place overall and 7th on performance handicap. Meticulous checks were carried out on the car, re-fuelled and made ready for our second outing scheduled for 04.40am.
Sunday 25th July - Race 2 04.40am - 3 o'clock came around all too soon as Mark, Barry, Fred, Clara and Peter made their way to meet Colin at the paddock garage. The car was readied and Colin made its way down to the Pit area. Yet another shortened race to catch up the program, but this time it was to be a regular rolling start with the LeMon in 54th on the grid. Colin was immediately on the pace and in determined mood, and although held up for a while behind a Ferrari he got a tow from slip streaming a Ford Mustang, which gave him an extra 10mph on the Mulsanne Straight and a top speed of 140mph. A battle with a Sunbeam Tiger for position saw him climb to 38th position and time to pit. A smooth pit stop and Barry was out just two places down, and bring the LeMon home in 40th place. Colin meantime could hardly contain himself as he excitedly explained to Mark how the race had gone, finishing with 'that race alone was worth coming all this way for!'
Confirmation results of the second race placed us 40th overall and 10th after performance adjustment. Way beyond expectations, we had come to Le Mans just to be at the event, run the car and enjoy the occasion of the event. With spirits high the team retired for a few hours well earned sleep before race three scheduled for just after 12.30.
Sunday 25th July - Race 3, 12.38 - It was decided that Colin would go out first, and as Colin went down to the collection paddock, the rest of the team retired to the pit wall and nearby grandstands. Spirits were high, and team members were relaxed. Unfortunately things were not to go to plan and the 'LeMon' did not reappear after the parade laps. Whilst Peter went back to the collection area to see if Colin had actually left, he was passed by Colin and the LeMon on the back of a recovery truck, undamaged, thus it would appear to be a mechanical failure. Peter returned to the pits to report to Mark, whilst in the meantime Colin had reported a blown head gasket. This was a disappointing end, but the LeMon was undamaged, and a new head gasket would solve the problem.
Later with all the team meeting up at the paddocks, a little champagne was drunk in celebration of the teams achievements, photographs taken and congratulations generously given.
Amongst the triumph enthusiasts visiting us in the paddock was the French owner of the Simo Lampinen works rally car (which competed in Le Mans colours in the 2002 Classic), giving us the opportunity to bring the two cars together for a one off photo shoot. An amazing car in its own right with a true pedigree of its own, with retro fitted original Le Mans bonnet.
In conclusion - It was a fantastic experience to have had the chance to take a team back to Le Mans after 40 years to celebrate the Triumph Spitfires and their achievements. Not only was it a team achievement but it was helped by all of our Triumph fellow enthusiasts who also attended the event.
As to the performance of the LeMon, we finished 42nd overall and 1st in class on Grid 4. Some of the other entrants in Grid 4 were seven Ford GT40, seven Ferrari 275 GTB, seven Jaguar E type, six AC Cobra, four Porsche 911, but there was only one Le Mans Triumph Spitfire!
Monday - saw us make a trip 30 miles south of Le Mans to visit the Hotel de France, at La Chartre sur-le-Loir, the Triumph team base some 40 years ago, and our team surprise for Fred Nicklin. The proprietor very kindly let us put the Team JIGSAW sticker in his window alongside the ones of Jaguar, Aston Martin and others, so it you are ever passing by ....
Tuesday - the return trip home, a week had gone by, we had been to Le Mans, competed in the prestigious event and made history once again, it was all over too soon, but then there is always 2006!!
Le Mans 2004
Signed commemorative aluminium shovel
ADU1B in her paddock garage
1965 Triumph driver
AVC654B ex Simo Lampienen, Claude DuBois' Sunbeam Tiger and ADU1B
Out on track
Barry Blakeley setting the car up for Le Mans start Race 1
Charles des Moulins (2nd left) and the taxi ride group
..in the taxi followed by the buses we missed!!
James Baudier, owner of AVC654B ex Simo Lampinen works rally car, meets Mark Field and AUD1B
Hotel de France, the Triumph team base of 40 years ago, remains largely unchanged