Race Report for Clermont Ferrand 2003
This report was written by John Moon.
RACE ONE - SATURDAY 26 JULY 2003 - PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT FOR EVANS
Richard Evans reaped the rewards of his three half hour sessions of testing when the Spridget driver won the first FISC race at the picturesque Charade circuit near Clermont Ferrand.
Evans would not have had it quite so easy however, were it not for the demise of pole man, Jean-Michelle Guermonprez, who had taken a superb fastest time in Friday's qualifying, despite rolling his Midget into the gravel half way through the session at turn two.
Suffering apparently little damage from his incident, Guermonprez took the lead at the start, which he held convincingly for four laps, until suffering total brake failure, retiring shortly thereafter.
This allowed Evans, who had been dicing with Ian Hulett, to take the lead - though Hulett was not about to concede - and soon found a way past. In the meantime, John Faux, starting from 11th, had found his way through to 3rd and joined in the battle. Hulett's nemesis however was the very tight uphill hairpin (turn nine) where Evans and Faux were able to pull away cleanly, despite Hulett's superior speed on other parts of the undulating circuit.
As they crossed the line almost together, it was Evans, from Faux and Hulett, with David Gibson some 13 secs adrift after a superb drive from 12th on the grid, and numerous battles with Michel van Kooten, who finished a fine 5th and Rob Halewijn in 6th.
Ian Burgin, in the lightweight one litre Frogeye, and James Bilsland, lost solid 4th and 5th places after Burgin's car began cutting out, prompting a spin which magnetically attracted Bilsland into a gentle T bone to the side of Burgin's car, leaving them 7th and 8th.
Peter Hiley, fourth fastest in qualifying, lost his clutch on the first lap, putting him to the back of the grid with Pieter Bakker (suffering an intermittent misfire) for the second race.
RACE TWO - SATURDAY JULY 26 2003 - FORMIDABLE FAUX
A blisteringly hot race on Saturday afternoon saw pole man, Richard Evans, take an early lead after an aggressive rolling start which saw John Faux and Ian Hulett circulating in close proximity behind for the first two or three laps.
It was clear however that Faux and Hulett had superior pace, Evans suffering from a down on power engine and less than ideal final drive ratio. Inevitably, the pair found a way through, leaving Evans to fall into the clutches of a relaxed David Gibson who held a comfortable fourth before distributor cap failure eliminated him altogether.
Faux then proceeded to open a useful gap over Hulett and was never challenged for the latter half of the 30 minute race, Hulett settling for a good second place in the intense heat.
Meanwhile, a hard charging Ian Whitt, starting from 17th on the grid, dispensed with leading Dutch driver, Rob Halewijn and set about Evans, who he managed to dispatch despite a couple of close calls with some enthusiastic squeezing towards the edge of the track.
However, on the final tour, Whitt found the gravel at Epingle de Champeaux rather too inviting, with Evans following suit, the pair both able to recover, but giving away 3rd and 4th places to Halewijn and James Bilsland respectively.
Whitt's departure from the gravel was somewhat easier than Evans', giving him 5th place, with Ian Wright 6th after a relatively quiet and lonely race.
Jean-Michelle Guermonprez initially made progress through the field from 23rd, making it to 7th until a spongy brake pedal and then a gearbox, with only 2nd and 4th gears, halted his progress.
RACE THREE - SUNDAY 27 JULY 2003 - THAT'S ALL FAUX
There could not have been a greater contrast to the conditions from the previous day, with a thunderstorm greeting the drivers on Sunday morning and fog enshrouding some of the undulating circuit.
John Faux demonstrated his superiority over the field with a smooth drive out front from start to finish, despite some formidable opposition behind.
Ian Hulett was again the man most likely to challenge Faux, but was held up for the first few laps by a battle with James Bilsland and Peter Hiley, who had made rapid progress through the field until running out of fuel on lap four!
After Hiley's demise, Hulett was able to open a gap from Bilsland who came home a fine third from the unassuming Ian Wright in 4th.
One of the best drives however, came from John Hopwood in the one litre FIA spec Frogeye, who worked his way through from 13th to finish 5th. David Gibson made even more spectacular progress from 21st to 4th, but threw it away with a spin at the tight uphill hairpin, leaving him 9th at the end, complete with misfire.
Stephan Chapman was the beneficiary of a last lap tangle between Richard Evans and Ian Whitt to finish 6th, which saw the pair give up 6th and 7th, Whitt embarrassingly losing his entire front end for the second time that weekend, this time in the pit wall just across the finish line.
Not surprisingly, John Faux was the leading points scorer for the weekend with Ian Hulett runner up.
The next FISC meeting is at Zaandvoort on the 23rd and 24th August.