One last race for a Champion

One last race for a Champion

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Often, it’s nice to close your eyes a little and take the time to capture the right moment. Trying to enjoy being with friends, forgetting everyday problems, and sharing an all-consuming passion. In 2023, it was motor racing that swallowed us whole on our travels with Team 511 and its driver Laurent.As part of the Machinistic Motorsport Dept. program, we crossed France seven times to discover some of the most beautiful tracks in the country. Welcome to the Sarthe, for the last weekend of the season, with the aim of filling our memory with some unforgettable memories: “clic-clac ; memory saved”.

The M3’s straight six ring out perfectly on the pit, leaving a magnificent echo after their passage. It’s a fighting time on the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans. Concentrating on the qualifying session and setting the fastest time, Laurent surely has no idea of the emotion his driving is bringing us. Clustered together at the edge of the runway, next to Damien at the signpost, we are touched by a wave of end-of-season nostalgia, excited by the decibels that hit us right in the heart and revive memories. The race is certainly just a pretext, as this first full season is all the more a human adventure.
“The moving sound of the M3; memory saved”.

Sometimes, certain life projects need to be carried out collectively. It’s not that it would be impossible to perform it alone, but perhaps it would be more tedious, and surely more bland. That’s what Laurent wanted to remind us of, by awarding two special prizes to Damien and me. A touching moment, especially as our trophies are made from season-worn brake discs and a base carved directly from oak by another friend of the team, Brice. The symbolism is strong, because like these cuts, the team’s organization is based on simple ideas and resources.
“Last-minute wheel changes; memory saved”.

Racing in an amateur championship, with the means at our disposal, trying to be as professional as possible. For example, like many other teams, the base camp is set up in the paddocks, under arbors housing a workshop and a bar/kitchen/lounge, depending on the mood. And often, as at Pau-Arnos or this weekend at Le Mans, the weather comes into its own. On Friday evening, as we were returning to our hotel, our paddock neighbors called to tell us that all the arbours making up our stand had blown away, leaving a scene of chaos around the car… Fortunately, nothing serious, and we took shelter under the only remaining functional arbor. These hazards and a little stress make the adventure even more exciting.
“Stand too frequently destroyed by weather; capture saved”.

It’s freezing Sunday morning! The car is frosted over in the paddock, and the track glistens in the first rays of sunshine. We warm up by preparing coffees and the M3 for the last two races of the year. Slick tires, new brake pads, tightening and level checks… This old BMW doesn’t need anything else to go racing. Despite a fairly intensive year, she’s doing just fine and has never let us down. It’s definitely a good car. Laurent started in pole position and fought hard to keep it, but finished second behind his main rival, Olivier Gillard.
“Laurent still annoyed, but on the podium anyway; capture saved”.

Between the two races, although the sun is shy, it’s by recalling the season’s highlights that we really warm up. The moments of open friendship during the drives across France, in the Team’s aptly named Renault “Munster of Puppet”, where we often fight over the playlist, laugh a lot at unmentionable jokes, and fight fatigue on the last few hours of the road. But also, on the famous two-wheeler every time we went over the pif paf of the Pau-Arnos circuit, the first time on the highest step of the podium at Nogaro, the scratch victory ahead of the GT categories, in the rain at Dijon… But we had no idea that the race we would be witnessing in a few moments would be the most beautiful moment of the season.
Good times with friends; capture saved.

The last race of the season is incredible! Twenty-five minutes of pure brawling, offering a spectacle for every spectator. Annoyed by his second place in the morning, Laurent set a pace never seen before on this circuit. Starting on the second row of the grid, he quickly got back on his opponent’s bumper, didn’t let up and put him under pressure. The sun gently sets, offering breathtaking autumn colors. The Dunlop bridge looks like it’s on fire. In the middle of the race, Laurent fell a little behind, before coming back for the last four laps. Tires destroyed, brakes at the end of their tether. On the last lap, just before the Dunlop bend, Laurent braked on the outside and overtook Olivier Gillard. We’re having a blast on the runway! What a great risk to take. But three bends later, the M3 decided that enough was enough, and pushed Laurent to the limit by no longer responding to the brakes. The opportunity for Olivier to pass again, and offering Laurent a second place, again.
Laurent in the gravel trap; capture saved”.

What a year, what a 2023 season, and above all, what a last race! An adventure rich in emotion and laughter, with a few doses of stress, that leaves its mark on all of us for life. Yes, this last race doesn’t end in first place, but it’s a happy ending. Laurent showed us what he was capable of and found the limits of his car… The winter break will allow us to correct some of the car’s faults and digest the year’s races, so that we can come back even stronger in 2024. It’s as much the end as the beginning of a new chapter.

Season 2023: 5 first places; 8 second places :

Laurent is French Champion; capture saved”.

Team 511 would like to thank :
Machinistic, and Machinistic Motorsport Dept. for their support
– The Benzin team for support and partnership for the 2024 season
– All French Cup participants
– The friends and family who make adventure possible

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The Hofmeisters – A GT3 in our workshop