Bol D’Or – Day 9 – Race Day

~40 km/25 miles

Villa to the track and back

Saturday was the start of the 24 hour race. There is a classic or vintage race early in the day. The main event kicked off a three pm. We left at about 10:30 am to get up to the track and were soon in a mass of bikes and traffic heading that way.

It’s a good job we took the bikes. The police had bikes all filtering in and heading down the “English” side of the road into the track. It probably took us about an hour to get up there and park the bikes.

That’s a lot of bikes…

When you go to a motorcycle race in the US, there are usually some bikes and they get to park up close. One estimate I heard said there would be 70,000 bikes at Bol. You have to pay attention to where you park.

…and a lot of people

That many bikes means that many people. It seemed that whenever I went anywhere, I was going up stream. At one point, I was a the far end of the straight and the lads said they were heading back at 4:30. Going through the crowd, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to make it there.

The French air display team

As with any big race, there is always pomp. The crowd was treated to a couple of flyovers by a French air display team. We saw the shadows fly past but the roof of the stand stopped us seeking the actually fly by.

Racing is underway

We had a good spot to see a couple of corners and the run into the pits. To see the race start a run across the track to the bikes, we had to lean forward and crane our necks to see the back of the order.

Bike displays galore

Like any race, there was lots to see and do. There were a lot of bike clubs displaying various marques of bikes around the entrance. There was even a marketplace where you could buy or bid on various bikes.

Night racing

All the endurance races have to feature night racing. It goes without saying that will be the case for a 24-hour race. But even the 8-hours of Suzuka has to have some racing after dark.

The crowd was different after dark. Probably 1/3 or 1/2 have of what it had been during the day. By the time when the sun went down, you could not really tell who was who. You could see various brands of bike the headlights of a few were distinctive – especially the BMWs.

One second of distance

As odd as it seems, the bikes do not slowdown after dark, they maintain the same pace they had throughout the day. They were all running in the 1:53-55 range. You can see how far they travel every second from the light trail above.

Proof Martyn and I were there

Martyn and I were the only ones who made it back to the track for the night session. There had been a lot of beer and wine bought for the evening and there were valiant attempts to finish it as we were all leaving in the morning.

When we got back Mark and Biff were still up listening to music at the kitchen table. I think Biff was particularly please to see us be the others were heading to bed. He promptly opened more wine for us and we hung out for another couple of hours until a reasonable bed time. Mark had to suffer because we were in his room.