The last couple of months have been pretty hectic with barely any time at home except to repack the bag, do some washing and head away again. Thankfully though the TOTALe companion app has been keeping me going with my French course as all the hotel rooms blur into one.
Being a racing driver in June means only one thing, the 24 hours of Le Mans and this year was a “Le Mans classic year” as well. So I’ve spent a large part of time away in the North West of France at one of the world’s greatest race circuits. What better place than to put my developing language skills into practice, after all it’s these races that are the reason I started learning French in the first place!
The 24-hours race was a cracking race with all 3 of the top manufactures leading at some point. The challenge for both, those competing and those spectating, is to make it through the night. It was about 4.30-5am down at the Indianapolis corner when I realised, even in my very tired state, that I didn’t really need to think about speaking French, it just happened! Small conversations with the staff whilst ordering food, or being on the banks people asking what was happening in the race, my answers just rolled off the tongue. Of course there were times when I didn’t know the words for certain things like “wiring loom” or “kinetic hybrid system failure”. I think at this stage I can be forgiven for not knowing those!
I left the 24-hours full of confidence very much looking forward to returning 2 weeks later for the Classic.
It was my first time to the Le Mans Classic but I was there in quite a different role to my “bus mans holiday” at the 24 hour race. Working for Jaguar giving hot ride laps to VIP’s of Jaguar France in F Type R sport cars was fantastic reaching 300 kph 4 times a lap in a road car was also pretty incredible!
Working with 10 or so other “Brits” I suddenly found myself at the deep end as it where. The guys all know I’ve been learning French and with them speaking just enough to order a beer, everything else was thrust onto me: Talking to security to let us in, asking for directions to our hotel and translating as much as I could of the drivers briefing, even organising the guests into the cars. I’m not going to lie, at times I really had to think, but we got in to the circuit, I found our hotel, we got the gist of the drivers briefing (thankfully it was given again in English as there were some things I didn’t get) and no guests were without cars.
So I have to say I’m rather pleased with what I achieved and it really reinforced my belief in the Rosetta Stone course. Falling back to English just wasn’t an option at times and we got through a fantastic event with no real troubles at all!