A day at the races at the Circuit Paul Richard at Le Castellet, between Marseille and Toulon. Pascal and I went for the final hours of the 2021 Bol d’Or, the 24-hour endurance motorcycle race.
The sound of screaming engines first hits you in the checks at the gates - passe sanitaire required as well as ticket - and then becomes the soundtrack to the day, with the sunshine and the breeze of the Mistral.
The bike of each team rides the whole race, it’s the riders who switch, mostly they are teams of four riders. The racing continues through the night so the bikes have headlights although this was also a nearly full moon.
This year there were two bands of rain or showers overnight, uncomfortable for fans camping in the surrounding of pine forest but imagine the additional challenge for the riders and mechanics, as well as the changing track temperature as the sun goes down and then rises after dawn.
Circuit Paul Ricard have improved many facilities and track safety features since I went there in 2015 but it’s still all but impossible to follow the races in detail. At least now the mobile phone network doesn’t saturate so you can follow on the web but there’s only one tower showing the leaderboard and only one big screen, which isn’t big enough and is in the wrong place for the fans.
But great to see and hear bikes going really fast, to eavesdrop on the moments between the rider and the team that don't get shown on television and also, a day out in the sunshine in the clear air up on the forested flanks of Mont Sainte Baume.