The chicanes are quicker than they look on the telly – third gear – but only the exit of the second is interesting as it takes you into the old kink, now barely noticeable, over the crest and down to Mulsanne.
Again, exit speed is crucial because you’re flat from here to Indianapolis and as fast as at any point on the straight. But there are a couple of curving crests that need your attention and a proper line. In the wet they might not even be flat.
It is from here to the Porsche Curves that the track is least changed. Every person who ever raced at Le Mans from 1923 to date came out of Mulsanne, over those rises, into Indianapolis, the tight left, the even tighter right at Arnage and off up the road back towards the pits. It is here, in inky blackness as you feel the Porsche go light over those crests and smell the barbecue smoke at Arnage that you feel most like a real Le Mans racing driver, even though you’re just a middle-aged amateur who’s lucked into a drive in a short and entirely unimportant race.
I’m not sad the track no longer spears through White House, because the corner is still out there on the old public road and it looks absolutely terrifying. As Richard Attwood once told me who drove Porsche 917s through here at unimaginable speeds, ‘if you cock it up there, or something goes wrong, there’s just nowhere to go’. And actually, the Porsche Curves are the best bit of the track, at least in a light but underpowered car: you come in fast, but each section is slightly slower than the previous one, so it’s all about how you position your car and how it copes with the transitions and the 904 is sensational. So, while around the rest of the lap the E-types and Cobras come howling past, here they simply hold you up.
Then it’s just a brief blast up to the fiddly but technically quite interesting Ford chicanes and away again on another lap. I’ve been lucky enough to race at most of grand old tracks still in use in Europe but none, not even Monaco, brings out the goosebumps like Le Mans. In its character and sense of occasion there is simply nothing like it.