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Author Topic: Debrief  (Read 1739 times)
Bob U
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« on: August 29, 2021, 01:51:01 pm »

Like most people I had written off the prospect of going to Le Mans this year, although there would be spectators this year, the thought of COVID restrictions and reported post Brexit checks made it all seem a lot of hassle.
One week to go and up pops a post from Werner offering a GA, a Bleu Nord ticket and the offer of joining Team Le Mans Zone for the weekend.
And so my mind was changed.

Tom (Lawnmower Man) phoned me and ask if he could tag along if he could manage to get hold of a GA. No problem.

First thing channel crossing. I was £171 in credit rolled over from last year when none of us could go. That was obviously the cost of a return crossing for 2020. Not so this year, the bloody pirates wanted another £154. RIp off Britain again.
Next thing, travel requirements. Proof of double jab, not a problem. Uploaded this to the French TousAntiCovid app as it was not sure if Frog would accept it on the NHS equivalent. That was all that was needed to enter France. Getting back into Blighty was a different matter. We would have to take a 2 day test on return which we would have to prove we had ordered at 89 quid a pop. 48 hours before return a Passenger Traceability form had to be uploaded to the tunnel booking. Finally a PCR test would have to be taken 72 hours before return and only negative results would be allowed to enter the UK. This test had to be done in a French lab as UK immigration wonít accept our own NHS tests.

So, off we jolly well set set at sparrow fart on Thursday. Bit of a hassle getting on to the M25 as both the M40 and M4 on ramps were closed. Not to worry, hardly any traffic, we arrived at the tunnel in plenty of time. It was a breeze passing through French passport control with the double jab proof. Even got a post Brexit stamp on my passport.
Once Frogside it all seemed very quiet. No constant stream of Brit cars heading South, in fact we didnít see more than half a dozen all the way to Le Mans. The road through Rouen was amazingly traffic free, no hold ups at all, no Brit cars and even the cows had gone off the roundabout. We made a couple of stops for breakfast and fuel and found that all public areas were very hot on mask wearing.

We tooled up onto a very different Bleu Nord around 13:30. I would say it was only about 25% full compared to other years and not a Union Flag in site. Found Werner, pitched our tents and sat drinking cold German beer for a couple of hours before going to the circuit. We were expecting long queues despite the crowd being restricted to 50,000 but were pleasantly surprised. Two minute wait to show proof of jabbage, the usual cursory bag check (they were allowing canned beer in this year) and then a couple of minute wait at the ticket check. all very smooth and stress free.

Night time on the campsite was obviously  a lot quieter than normal but still with parties, music and fireworks. Still a nice friendly atmosphere. A French group asked Werner if they could plug into his Jenny in exchange for a couple of bottles of Remi Martin. A no brainier really. Another group needed fuel for their own Jenny which was exchanged for a bottle of Pastis. I can assure you, none of the bottles survived the night.

Walking around the circuit was very easy due to lack of spectators but the mask wearing whilst walking was being strictly policed. A one way in and out system was operating on the pit straight terraces with most of the stairways being taped off.  A lot of the concession stalls were absent but there were the usual bars and food outlets. The beer on circuit is now Carlsberg and is Ä2 cheaper than 2019.
 
We had heard that the ACO had set up a PCR test centre at the MME arena so off we went on Friday morning to get one done. Again the ACO had done a fantastic job with this, no problem, no hassle. Twenty minutes and Ä50 later we were on our way back to the campsite. We had heard that drinking coffee could give a false positive reading as it was only a spit test. Bloody good job German beer didnít affect it. The result was emailed to us on Saturday morning. The result was negative so we could now relax and enjoy the race. Uploaded the result to the tunnel booking and we knew we could get home.

There was no funfair or go carts which made for a strange skyline without the Ferris wheel. No bands although the stage was in place and there was a DJ playing what some poor deluded souls would call music but most normal people would call utter shite.

On race day no entry was allowed after 2PM and likewise on the Sunday. I suppose to avoid last minute congestion at the entry points only about half of which were being used.


I wonít talk about the race itself as you probably watched in on the box.

I watched the finish from the ACO grandstand thanks to Geoffís membership card. All the grandstands I could see were less than half full, as was the one I was in, and the above pit seats were virtually empty. I had heard that the ACO was flogging off tickets at half price to the locals as they hadnít sold the whole 50,000. That could explain why there seemed to be more than the usual amount off French families on our campsite. The usual checkered flag circuit invasion wasnít allowed this year so after the slow down lap all the finishers were lined up on the pit straight. A fantastic sight. I think this will be the new norm as everyone seemed to appreciate the photo opportunity.

The only thing I missed was Radio Le Mans which wasnít being broadcast around the circuit this year. The PA system was putting out a lot more in English than in previous years which was a great help.

The journey back to the tunnel was as trouble free as the journey down, again no hold ups in Rouen and the cows were still missing. No more than a dozen Brit cars on the way back. Check in and getting through British immigration was quite easy despite the computers at the terminal being down. Everything was done on iPads but only took about 15 minutes longer than normal. We even got a crossing an hour early due to lack of traffic.

I must admit that once I had decided to go I was a bit apprehensive about all the extra paperwork needed for the trip but in the end, with a bit of pre planning it was all pretty painless.

I know that in the past we have all had our gripes and moans about the ACO. Full marks to them for putting on the event despite all the restriction imposed on them. The organisation of the entry and exit procedure couldnít have been any less trouble. Likewise the PCR test facility, which enabled us to return home, was very well organised.

All in all I am so glad I decided to go and I must say I preferred it with the much reduced capacity.

Hopefully next year will be back to normal, but if itís got to be the same as this year donít be put off. With a little bit of planning it is possible.

« Last Edit: August 29, 2021, 02:55:03 pm by Bob U » Logged

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Jules G
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2021, 03:37:13 pm »

Bob,

Thanks for taking the time to write up your travel monologue the write up.

Jules G
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2021, 10:26:34 am »

Brilliant Bob, glad you made good use of the ACO card (which Tom paid for LOL).

Over the past few years I've come to prefer smaller, less "busy" events, and over Le Mans weekend I was camping with some mates at a Blues weekend at a pub in Worcester. That reminded me how much I no longer enjoy camping too!! But not wishing to sound too negative, if I thought LM would be similar next year it'd be back on my to-do list! (I did pay for Eurosport for the weekend but the bloody thing wouldn't work on the crappy signal we had).
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clkgtrlm1
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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2021, 12:20:35 pm »

Finally a PCR test would have to be taken 72 hours before return and only negative results would be allowed to enter the UK. This test had to be done in a French lab as UK immigration wonít accept our own NHS tests.



For Double-Vaccinated people with a UK Passport, only Antigen test was required. (Lateral Flow)
We had ours done on Sunday after the race at a nurse friend of ours (Friend of a friend), for £25.00 per test, instant result and she registered it for us there and then.

All in all - I agree, it was a lot easier to travel than expected, particularely if all your ducks were in a row in advance.
(UK Passenger Locator form was the most tricky bit)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2021, 12:22:51 pm by clkgtrlm1 » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2021, 02:06:56 pm »

Cheers Bob - good to hear that it went well.

Agree with the UK PLF; For my return from Crete I'd completed mine, added the kids and then spent 10 mins looking for how to add MrsToby only to have to google it to find out that she needed her own... not great design by any stretch of the imagination!

Looking forward to next year already!
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Bob U
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2021, 02:10:27 pm »

Finally a PCR test would have to be taken 72 hours before return and only negative results would be allowed to enter the UK. This test had to be done in a French lab as UK immigration wonít accept our own NHS tests.



For Double-Vaccinated people with a UK Passport, only Antigen test was required. (Lateral Flow)
We had ours done on Sunday after the race at a nurse friend of ours (Friend of a friend), for £25.00 per test, instant result and she registered it for us there and then.

All in all - I agree, it was a lot easier to travel than expected, particularely if all your ducks were in a row in advance.
(UK Passenger Locator form was the most tricky bit)

Didnít know about the Lateral flow option we just went with the list of requirements on the tunnel booking. Yes the Passenger locator was a pain to fill in. But, it all got us there and back so a little effort went a long way.
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There is a corner of a foreign field that will be forever England ------ Houx Annexe
  
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Bob U
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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2021, 02:16:49 pm »

Brilliant Bob, glad you made good use of the ACO card (which Tom paid for LOL).




Used it a lot. Free programme to start. Apart from the ACO grandstand a few times,  the showers were great as was the locker to store stuff at the circuit. I used the members enclosure at Chapalle for the start and a few times after for the cheap beer and food. Seriously thinking of joining.
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2021, 03:39:42 pm »

Imagine not being allowed back into the UK? What an absolute nightmare to be stuck in France with its full supermarket shelves, better weather, pretty girls, fine food and culture.  Wink

Apparently, a little lemon juice will produce a positive test......
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Barry
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« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2021, 11:25:45 am »

Imagine not being allowed back into the UK? What an absolute nightmare to be stuck in France with its full supermarket shelves, better weather, pretty girls, fine food and culture.  Wink


Just happened to us, Jo tested positive when we were supposed to return from holiday.

It was a tough extra week in France I assure you.

 Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin Grin
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