The temperature is rising (at least it's meant to be in Europe), the days are stretching to their longest, it's nearly my birthday and the endurance racing fraternity is making it's annual pilgrimage to normally unremarkable stretch of public roads in France.
It's the Le Mans 24 Hours, and in two weeks the world famous sportscar race will be started by the traditional wave of the French tricolore, and with the (newly enlarged) field growing ever clearer it's time to have a look at the 56 teams who will try and make their men and machines last two circuits of the clock and some 320 of the 8.4 mile Circuit de la Sarthe.
That must mean it's time for previews – and Le Mans previews need a preview themselves.
Perhaps more than any of the recent years the field has seen shifts – both compared to the 55 cars that Le Mans organisers the Auto Club de l'Ouest (ACO) welcomed this time 12 months ago and even from the original list of entrants that were invited after a ceremony in early February.
Over the coming weeks there will be a preview for each of the four Le Mans classesâ€”LMP1, LMP2, LMGT1 and LMGT2â€”and for those unfamiliar with these classes, they are exactly the same as would be found in the American or European Le Mans Series, the arbitrary “LM” tacked on simply designating “Le Mans”.
Each article will look at the big storylines in the class before taking a look at each and every team that will contest the race, assessing their driving line-up and the equipment they are hoping will last for the day of racing.
But predicting the outcome of a 24 hour race – any 24 hour race, let alone Le Mans – is like trying to find one particular piece of hay in very big haystack. A team can run faultlessly but one mistake – whether by driver or team or fellow competitor – can end a team's chances. For that reason (and because, like many men, I'm a little afraid of commitment) rather than a specific position each team will be branded “winner”, “podium”, “finisher” or “DNF” as their chances of standing atop the class podium decrease.
That doesn't necessarily mean there will be one predicted winner, or two more podium runners. You simply can predict a days worth of racing.
Then it's a wait until the 12th and 13th of June to prove me catastrophically wrong.
Read the previews here: