“Does anyone fancy going to Le Mans this year?”
“Yeah, why not!”
A seemingly innocent question, a simple answer. Little did I realise then what I was letting myself in for.
The “24 Heures du Mans” is the world’s oldest endurance motor race, held annually near the town of Le Mans in northern France. The race is an endurance test, with the winner being the team who have covered the longest distance within 24 hours. It is the ultimate test of endurance for both the drivers and the cars. And the spectators!
Having bought the circuit tickets, the camping tickets, and the channel crossing, the next thought was what car to take. The obvious choice was to take the BMW Z4M that my friend recently bought for his “weekend toy”. A small, two-seater sports car would be perfect for the trip down the autoroutes of Northern France. We checked the boot to make sure we could fit the tent, two camping chairs, a bag of clothes each and a camera bag, and we were good to go.
Except then the insurance company wouldn’t allow an additional driver to be added to the car for European cover!
So our thoughts turned to what exciting car we could hire. Avis Select Series offers the kind of interesting car that wouldn’t be too out of place at one of the world’s most prestigious motoring events. Or how about a flight or train to Paris to pick up one of the French prestige fleet (Porsches, Audis and Mercedes are all available) and drive from there.
The final decision was to go for something practical and efficient as well as interesting, so we chose a BMW 5 Series. Driving from the UK to France in a hire car requires additional Continental Cover and it’s worth making sure you get that in place as early as possible. It isn’t bookable online so you will need to call the call centre. They can also help you to make sure you have all the right documents required for driving on the continent.
Once the car was sorted, we could focus again on what we have to take. With the space restriction of the Z4M removed (BMW 5s have enormous boots!) the list grew slightly from the original “take what we need and buy the rest out there” list. Some online research uncovered one list that had over 110 items to take, including a generator, TV, DVD player and Christmas lights! We decided to be a little bit more restrained than that and just take the essentials for a long weekend camping: tent, sleeping bags, camping chairs, barbecues, cameras, first aid kit, an umbrella and a raincoat (well, we are English, and it’s bound to rain!).
And that is everything sorted out, for now. Tickets, car, stuff. Now it’s just a few weeks until departure day, and we can start to get excited about the trip and my first taste of endurance racing.