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Once again we were lucky enough to have a 2-3 week holiday touring around Europe in our 7. As usual we only had a rough plan - we would start by joining the Le Sept trip for a day at Le Mans, then go on to stay with a friend in Saumur in the Loire Valley. Following that we would meet up with some fellow ex-Bordeaux Blatters who were staying in Loche, near the Loire.

After that we had no plans, other than to 'head for the hills' to the east! We have not really explored the eastern part of France, and the idea was to seek out some interesting roads and maybe reach Switzerland and the mountains!

The trailer trash lines up at the Le Mans Novotel, the night before the first track day at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit.

Once again our Summer trip started with a very enjoyable 2 days joining the Le Sept trip for a track day. I had designed the logo's and other images for the trip, and as a thank you Barbara Swift, who organizes the holiday, had very kindly invited us along to join them for a day. This year we arrived to drive at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit - a small permanent track that uses a tiny part of the full 24 Hour Le Mans road circuit.

It had to start sometime! First night at the Le Mans Novotel and already the bonnets are off! Small problem with Paul Davis's car is fixed with eager assistance and beer! Le Sept is the same as any other L7Club event - whatever the problem with your car there is always knowledgable and enthusiastic help to sort you out and get you on your way!

We arrived at the Novotel the evening before the track day and joined the opening meal. Hopefully we will do the whole trip ourselves one day, as whenever we have joined the trip it is obvious that it is a fantastic experience - not only the track time but perhaps more importantly the social side of the trip.

Wheels off to change some damper settings before hitting the track.


Roger Swift raring to go in his very rapid Vx powered car. Needs to come off the trailer first Roger....


We did not have access to the pitlane garages, but the paddock behind was huge and plenty big enough on this dry, sunny day.


Le Mans pitlane and garages. Umm - it's not Snetterton is it! Everything here is on a huge scale!


Pit lane briefing from Steve before anyone is allowed to hit the track. Le Sept also provides its own marshals and medics as support.


Some pictures taken during the 'Ducks and Drakes' preliminary laps - slow laps behind a pace car enable one to safely become familiar with a new circuit.


Perhaps one of the most famous single view from Le Mans - the Dunlop Bridge. The Bugatti circuit uses the start/finish straight and this section from the larger 24 Hour circuit, before peeling off over the crest.


At the bottom of the slope we peel off to the right - the big track carries on and curves off to the left before joining the public road section.


A very smooth surface...


...with large flat 'kerb' areas!


Heading back into the pit lane and garage area.


My car passes the Le Mans clock - note the time - 4pm! Unfortunately I am not in my car as it powers past side by side with Richard's Duratec powered 7....


....and a few seconds later a red light confirms our worst fears! We had allowed our host for the week - Steve 'Battered Old Supersport' - a few laps in our car. Seems he arrived at the chicane just before the Dunlop Bridge a little too quickly and spins into the gravel - bringing the session to a halt. Umm - not what you want really old chap...! :)


The naughty chap returns to the paddock, looking suitably embarrassed. No damage was done (thank the Lord) but it was a shame as our car has never been in the gravel before!


Even worse, the bullet camera which had been running at the time, and therefore would have provided evidence of Steve's indiscression, ran out of batteries ONE lap before he came off....


Meanwhile, Tessa gets strapped into Richard Ince's R500 for a couple of very quick laps - to show how it is really done! Some of you may recognize the car - it is one of the ones that I am (still) making a model of. I used the opportunity to take a few extra snaps for the modelmaking!


Tessa is totally unfazed by this sort of thing!! Big thanks to Richard, Austin & Jason for having us at their table the night before and keeping the red wine very much flowing!! Never did get to try your cars' guys!!


The REAL Team Langoustine!? This fellow was part of our lunchtime break meal at Le Mans - no rubbish on this trip - only the best!!


The town of Saumur, overlooking the River Loire, was to be our base for the next couple of days. Steve works here and once again played host on our trip.


Back at Steve's house our car needs a clean - and some new front brake pads. We had a couple of days at Steve's so plenty of time...


The brake pads are shown here, evenly spread all over our alloys in the form of dust and grime!! Metal to metal contact started on the trip back to Steve's place from the circuit.


Ooops!! A local Auto Factor's managed to come up with some replacement pads so we could carry on.

The replacement brake pads we put in at this point we standard car pads, and were fine for everyday driving. It was only later on in the trip when we had some spirited hill climbs/descents in the mountains that the difference between 'normal' pads and 'fast road/track' pads became apparent. Brake fade was very present - and indeed on track at Crois on the last day, the brakes faded totally after only 1 or 2 laps!

Steve's garden becomes a 7 Car Park for the second year in a row as a fellow Sevener leaves his car here while he dashes back for a daughters Graduation!


Tessa and Steve hitting the weeds in the garden. We had to work for our bed! :)


Steve's next door neighbour - literally - is Bouvet-Ladubay, a Saumurois winery! It would have been rude not to have a little visit!


A unique aspect of these Caves is that they have a resident sculptor carving all sorts of designs and shapes into the soft rock.


And of course at the end of the tour - here we are looking at the bottling plant - you get the tasting!


More Caterham tweaking in garden!


Steve and his cars! We had both wondered if anyone would miss those nice new CR500's on that trailer - our own A032 tires which, had started off the trip 2nd hand, were even 'smoother' after the track day at Le Mans...


Whilst we were at staying at Steve's it was Bastile Day in France. A huge National holiday, we were teated to a huge fireworks display by the river...


...ooooh


...arrhh


....oooh, aarrhhh.


'gasp'


The whole display was huge and was set to a musical accompliment. It was a fantastic show, based on an island mid-river.


Although the display started at almost midnight, it was watched by thousands of people, old and young - very typical of France.


Bridge over the Loire at Saumur


Well - it looked a nice colour...


 
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