No, it’s true, I’m not visiting the Useless Sea, a minimum of not THAT Useless Sea. Nevertheless, not removed from the place I dwell in Normandy there’s a place referred to as Mortemer, which in English means Useless Sea… The title comes from the Center Ages when, I assume, the valley in query was a nugatory flooded marsh. Then somebody labored out the way to drain the place and shortly there have been fish-filled ponds and a slightly grand Cistercian Abbey was constructed. England’s King Henry I preferred the realm (he was additionally the Duke of Normandy) and got here usually to hunt. Alas sooner or later he ate too many nasty-looking fish referred to as lampreys in a village close by and shuffled off his regal coil. His funeral procession went from there to Studying in Berkshire – which was fairly an achievement in 1185…
Anyway, to sum up the subsequent 850 years in two sentences: the monks had a grand outdated time till they had been massacred by French revolutionaries, at which level the abbey grew to become a splendid wreck and the murdered monks haunted the place enthusiastically. There’s even a narrative of a ghostly monk rising from the forests to information a downed RAF man to (relative) security in World Struggle II.
I might go on telling tales concerning the space for some time but, however you will have come to this weblog to learn of motor racing and so we should wind our manner down the valley of the stream they name the Fouillebroc to the village of Lisors.
Till not too long ago one of many locals used to fly a Purple Bull Racing flag in his (or her) backyard, though I by no means stopped to ask why there was such ardour for the Austrian fizzy drink workforce. Maybe the house belongs to a Pierre Gasly fan, because the AlphaTauri driver comes from Rouen, simply 20 miles to the west. Jean-Eric Vergne (as soon as a Purple Bull driver) can be fairly native, having grown up 30 miles to the east, whereas Esteban Ocon, who has by no means been blessed with Purple Bull money, spent his childhood in Evreux, 35 miles to the south-west. So, the purpose I’m making an attempt to make right here is that that is racing nation, a minimum of within the trendy period. Clearly it isn’t far both from the outdated residence of the French Grand Prix at Rouen Les Essarts.
One might additionally point out that Dieppe is just not distant (to the north) however which may get us right into a dialogue about whether or not it’s a good suggestion to pair Gasly and Ocon at Alpine in 2023… which appears to be underneath intense dialogue in Alpineland. The duo had been finest buddies after they had been eight, however fell out on the age of about 12 and have been rivals ever since. There are scandalous tales of household punch-ups and the like, though I don’t know if these are true, however there’s clearly a threat of bother (or a minimum of disunity) if Alpine decides to go totally Norman.
Those that don’t know may argue that the French will select French drivers as a result of the apocryphal Monsieur Chauvin (after whom chauvinism was named) got here from France, however when one appears carefully on the Alpine workforce it’s about as French as an Eccles Cake, with Otmar Szafnauer being a Romanian who grew up in Detroit and the one French phrases which can be broadly identified at Enstone are “bonjour” and “merde”. We’ll see quickly sufficient what Alpine decides. Final week the workforce held a non-public check in Hungary for Nyck de Vries, Antonio Giovinazzi and Jack Doohan, though the tub-thumpers within the French media proceed to insist that Gasly is the person.
Anyway, again to Lisors… It’s a picturesque spot with a village inexperienced, a duck pond and the gorgeous church. Beside the church is an outdated farm from the place one should buy correct old-fashioned charcuterie. It isn’t precisely a motorsport mecca… besides that Lisors can be the house of the Circuit de Grosse Haie, or the Huge Hedge Circuit when you needs to wreck the romance and translate the phrases into English.
This, nevertheless, is an effective description of the circuit, as a result of it truly is hidden behind a really massive hedge.
That is the house observe of the Auto Rodeo Membership of Lisors (ARCL) and for years I’ve been that means to go alongside to see what occurs behind the hedge. The opposite day, seeing that that they had an occasion and I used to be not in Russia (as had as soon as been deliberate) we paid €7 a head to go and see no matter motion there was to be discovered. It’s not that I used to be lacking racing after two weekends off – an F1 calendar lately offers one loads of races to observe – however slightly it was out of curiosity.
From time to time, I believe it’s good to go and see one thing apart from F1… to remind oneself that there’s extra to the game than Grand Prix racing. F1 is usually a spot that floats alongside by itself cloud, up the place the cuckoos fly, and it has been some time since I went to a neighborhood hillclimb, or to a minor formulation race. If nothing else, it reminds one which the game is about ardour.
The racing, it mentioned on the sign up entrance of the hedge, was “Enjoyable-Vehicles”. The observe, I knew from Google Earth, was a primary 600 metres of wiggly dust, though I hadn’t realised that the floor of the circuit was truly embedded into the panorama, in order that the automobiles had been mainly racing alongside between partitions of earth. This made spectating a little bit of a problem, but it surely was clear that it was fairly protected as getting a automotive to leap out of “the ditch” can be fairly an achievement.
To be fairly sincere, the primary impression was not nice. These weren’t the shiny and polished equipment that one is used to seeing at Grands Prix. Removed from it. Most of them regarded like actual wrecks with much-beaten metallic panels daubed with no matter paint might need come handy. The one sponsorship got here from the native butcher and comparable such institutions.
However, after watching a string of five-lap heats in fast succession, the conclusion was that Enjoyable-Automotive lived as much as its title. It was not about composites, aerodynamics and tyre compounds. It was all about tuning up an engine, sticking it into what in some unspecified time in the future was a automotive after which going racing, twiddling with the suspension a little bit to make the machine experience the bumps – after which simply going for it. In idea contact is frowned upon, however in actuality the automobiles had been bouncing off each other on a regular basis, and most of them bore the scars of their fights (and the following repairs).
What I can say past that’s that if there was any paddock gossip behind the large hedge, it definitely wasn’t about F1.
On to Singapore…