Pau - May 2007
There is a magic about a street circuit and this year it attracted 280 competitors. Pau is nearly as far south as Spain so one might expect that the weather in May would be excellent but once again we were fooled. Torrential rain for two of the three days caused a fair amount of havoc - some awnings collapsed overnight, transporters were stuck in the mud of the once grassy paddock and drivers played skittles on the track.
There were a number of unfortunate accidents and a mixed bag of driver competence - it was apparent that some still need lessons – it is to be hoped that the race organisers know who these drivers were (are) and call them to the headmasters’ study - also the mechanics of oil-dropping cars.
The drivers were not the only people at fault, the new organisers - the local ASAC, had removed the experienced Eric Helaine and Patrick Quiniou. The result was chaotic. Races were late (organisers still at lunch), pace car used for over half of a 1 hour race when the race should have been stopped; tons of sand poured on to the oil caused by a massive F2 accident – it turned into mud and found its way into every crevice of the cars and drivers, requiring subsequent removal of the entire car’s bodywork for cleaning - and - the splendid late announcement that barbeques would not be allowed in the paddock. Those who had arranged them carried on regardless and without penalty as the organisers had left for dinner!
Some of the girls found solace in shops and others nobly watched the racing, a great deal of which was very close and exciting – there was a fantastic ambiance, not unlike Monaco but without the beautiful people, and perhaps better for that. But a shame that the Mayor decreed that the public had to pay to watch - so most of them stayed away.
So it was chaotic – all the English smiled and laughed – what a game lot we are but the organisation would need to improve if we are to return – one wonders how the Touring Cars were treated the following weekend as they would be unlikely to stand for the sloppiness of the ASAC Basco-Béarnais.
(Update. Eric Helaine has been asked to take over the event for 2008).