Page 37 - Sample pages "Bugatti, The Italian Decade" by Gautam Sen
P. 37

                 with the “Le Mans” car on the smaller Le Mans circuit called the Bugatti circuit. Following this session, the first engine was dismantled and sent to Campogalliano for an overhaul, to be used later as the spare engine for the 24 Hours race. Racing against time, the engineers at Campogalliano had to ready engine number 105 by Wednesday 8 June, so that it could be shipped by Friday. After revision of the gearbox, spare engine number 104 was also on engine bench number 3 for the development of the mapping and needed to be sent to France by 14 June.
The racing car was still being worked on at Synergie until the official presentation – the weighing-in ceremony – in the city of Le Mans, and the last tests were carried out between the official Qualifying Sessions, in the 72 hours before the race.
The official Bugatti magazine contains some factual errors regarding the oft-told story that the racing car itself was driven on the highway from Paris to Le Mans. A blue EB110 was indeed driven by Edgar Bensoussan and José Rosinski from Paris to Le Mans before the race, but it was the regular GT demonstrator of French importers British Motors, belonging to Bensoussan. This is confirmed by François Melcion, one of the organisers of Salon Rétromobile in Paris. “On 16 June 1994, Rétromobile founder Marc Nicolosi, my cousin Sophie, and I drove to Le Mans from Paris in a Citroën CX. Rétromobile was one of the smaller sponsors of the Bugatti campaigned by Michel Hommell, and this was out of our pure
friendship and the love for
the brand. I came back with
Edgar Bensoussan in the
blue EB110, in which he had
driven to Le Mans, from
Paris. We could never have
imagined that a sticker on
a car could give us such
an exciting adventure, one
which was rich in emotion and really thrilling from start to finish.”
During the traditional weighing in at the scrutineering at Place des Jacobins, where most cars were arriving on trailers, Dieter Gass drove the Bugatti EB110 LM there, guided by two police motorcycles and followed by the Lambrusco- coloured metallic Rosso Scuro GT of Jean-Marc Borel. Sporting a temporary registration number of 50 W 72, the car caused a sensation, as the gesture harked back to the tradition from pre-war times.
Three days before the race, Jean-Pierre Malcher fell seriously ill. Rosinski, at the last minute, recruited 24-year-old Jean-Christophe Boullion, a F3000 racer with considerable talent, who later went on to race in Formula One as well as several 24 Hours of Le Mans. In no time, Boullion acclimatised to the car. Eric Hélary set a lap time of 4 minute 16.94 seconds, which was three seconds slower than in May, but the performance was good enough for a 17th place on the grid, fifth in the GT1 category, with race number 34.
ABOVE: The Bugatti hurtling down the Hunaudières. (DPPI)
OPPOSITE: A magnificent shot of the Bugatti leading the GT pack down the Dunlop straight. (DPPI)

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