Race Report for Dijon 2000

Hello & welcome FISC fans.

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Dijon is my favourite track, and I had been looking forward to this event all year. The weekend started of badly when my planned Thursday night departure didn't happen. I left Friday lunchtime in a rush & promptly got my photo taken by a speed camera on the German Autobahn, but at least all my bad luck for the weekend was over. Or was it ? I arrived at the track after the training sessions where all finished.

Apon arrival I heard various stories of very quick laps, a slippy surface & a few visits to the kitty litter. I could see additions to various peoples gravel collections spread around the paddock.

The planned start for qualifying was at 08:30 on Saturday morning. I still has to sign on & so was awake at 06:30. The first thing I saw on the windscreen of my van was ground frost ! "This will be a fun filled & slippery day" I thought. John Faux, Ian Burgin & John H. where also late arrivals, their trip having taken 23 hours due to running out of Diesel & ferry problems. There seem to be occasionally problems at the ferry ports with the larger trucks. I have changed the Ferry booking form so that YOU HAVE TO enter a vehicle length. I know this is a pain for most of us but it should help the likes of John Faux & Malcolm Self etc. I know Annette does her best to sort the problems out & I would like to publicly thank her for helping all of us out. Hopefully the changes should make everyones life a bit easier.

Before this weekend the drivers standings trophy was a 2 horse race. There was 1 point in it & Dave Shannon was leading from Rupert Douglas-Pennant. With our points system, your best results count so If Dave won one of the races he was overall winner. & If he won the first race he could let James Bilsland drive the second race & still be winner.

Ian Whitt one of the weekends volunteers
Ian Whitt one of the weekends volunteers

The first training session was relatively uneventful. A noticable exception being Ian Whitt who had just fitted a Weber Carb to his car & had it rolling roaded. After less than 1 lap the engine melted 2 pistons. It looked like his weekend was over. Ian Hulett had also fitted another engine over the last few weeks & was flying again, unfortunately he had forgotten to fit a rev limter & so his lap times were ignored & he was relegated to the back of the grid. Dave had deliberatley "sand bagged" since he didn't want to start from the front. But he had overdone it & had only qualified in 8th. As I came into the paddock I heard a horrible rattling from my engine.

Ian Whitt's piston after 1 lap !
Ian Whitt's piston after 1 lap !

We had some 5 hours between qualifying & the race. There was a lot of work being done on the cars. Ian Whitt had some spare pistons with him & stripped his engine completely. His only problem was how to get the piston fitted to his conrods. After trying with a blow torch someone suggested the gas cooker in the catering truck. Wilhelm (our cook) had no objections & so the rods where heated over a gas stove & the pistons where fitted without any problems. The engine was rebuilt & Ian could race. My engine was stripped & we found nothing (Thanks to James Bilsland & his father for helping). There were some markings where the piston had slightly "kissed" the head & various theories about big ends gone, stretched rods, etc etc, but I blamed it on a few missed gearchanges & slight overrevving. Dave Shannon suggested that the clutch might be falling to pieces & I decided to believe that one. I decided to ignore the noises & race.

Good clean,close racing
Good clean,close racing

Our usual rolling start happened without any exciting news, but after about 1/2 a lap John Faux spun in the middle of the pack. Eric VandeVelde was behind John & I was behind Eric. Eric went left fully off the track, on to the grass & I went right. Every car got passed John without incident ( I think John was down to 17th place ) I watched Eric fight with his car & get it back on the track, it must have been a "moment" for him at racing speed on slippy grass, but he did a great job. On the next lap, as I exited the hairpin there was Midget in Italian colours completely sideways & stopped across the track. Again everybody got round Antonio without an incident. I was chasing Mark Hope. I could see from his pit board that he was in 6th place (thanks Michelle - very useful info for me !) & I wanted that place. I reckoned I could keep up with Mark or catch him everywhere on the track EXCEPT coming out of the hairpin where I lost all my work. (no LSD) I could also see John Faux catching me & behind him a very irrate Italian with his lights ablaze. After a couple more laps Antonio spun out & then about a lap later he lost it big style & slid a long way into the gravel at the first bend, trying to outbrake John. This brought out the waved yellows & finished Antonios race.

I was still catching Mark & as my inboard video shows in some places I was less than a foot off his bootlid. I decided I had to close up as much as I could on the last bend, get a tow onto the straight & outbrake him into the first bend. As we approached the last bend I kept the power on (6,300 in 4th) & was closing on Mark, then the back stepped out a bit. It had done this before & I wasn't too worried. Then suddenly the car shot into a spin & I was catapulted across the track towards the tyre wall on the outside of the bend. I hit the wall hard with the front right corner, the car then bounced out of the tyres & still spinning hit the wall again with the right rear, then still spinning I was thrown out of the tyres & finished nearly on the track again, facing the tyres. I had spun 360°, hit the wall twice & sprayed fibreglass, glass & gravel from one side of the track to the other.

Ouch !!!
Ouch !!!

I did what anyone would & should do. I got out of the car, ran & got over the saftey wall as quickly as I could. The marshalls were running to me, and asking about a doctor. I convinced them I was OK.

The saftey car was sent out & for some 5 laps everyone queued up behind it. Dave Shannon's coil lead fell off & he was forced to retire. Ian Burgin broke his crank. My car was towed off the track & the race was restarted.

A cracked block
Ian Burgin's Engine

On the entrance to the 1st bend there were 4 cars fighting for 1st place. Rupert Douglas-Pennant, Pieter Bakker, Stephané Devoucoux & Ian Hulett ( remember he had started from the back - what a great drive). There is just about enough room for 2 cars next to each other round this bend & the guy on the outside won't come out leading, but 4 into the bend ??? Yep, you guessed it. There was a spin & the end result was Ian & Stephanè came together & took each other out, I think Pieter was also affected & this let John Faux & Mark Hope through. At the checkered flag Rupert won from John & Mark. Eric had fought his way back up to 4th but was disqualified when his car was found to be underweight. Ian Whitt coasted across the finish line running out of fuel & was towed back to the paddock. He forgot to go to Post race scrutineering & so his 5th place was also disqualified. Still it was a great drive from last on the grid.

Winners of race 1
Race 1 winners

This meant the drivers standings trophy was still open although heavily leaning in Ruperts direction & now all the weight was on Dave Shannon's shoulders. Rupert couldn't improve his position, The only thing that could change the positions was if Dave won the last race.

The result of Ian Hulett's spin Repaired again
The result of Ian Hulett's spin & repaired only with tank tape !!

Most of the cars were worked on in preparation for Sunday's racing. Ian Burgin fitted a new engine. Mark Dols found cracks in both his front brake disks & was lent a pair by Dave.

Saturday night was BBQ night. Every team had brought some food & Wilhem & his team prepared Salad, Sauces & French Fries ( Chips to us brits !). Wilhem had also proved enough meat for an army !! I had intended drinking a bit of the old "loopy juice" & forgetting my problems but I really wasn't in the mood & could feel my left wrist starting to go stiff. As I went to bed the Spridget Café was still packed with teams having a good time.

Mark Dols as we all know him
Mark Dols as we all know him

On the Sunday I had the chance to watch the FISC cars race as a spectator for the first time in 5 years. During the first practice Mark Dols spun much to the crowds pleasure & Dave seemed to disappear after very few laps. It turns out he had broken a halfshaft & only did the required 3 laps so that he could start the second race. Ian Burgin's new engine was down on power & appeared to be a better kettle than a race engine. John Faux stopped after his engine decided to give itself an on track oil change.

Ian Burgin prays his engine doesn't overheat
Ian Burgin prays his engine doesn't overheat

It looked like Dave's chances of a second trophy where slipping away from him. He & his team stripped the car. Engine & box out. Back axle stripped. A spare halfshaft was found (courtesy of Ian Johnson) & the gearbox was swapped (Dave didn't like the noises it was making). Then everything was put back together. Ian Burgin changed his head gasket & John Faux refilled the sump.

Hans Dullaert & Rob Halewijn prepare for the race
Hans Dullaert & Rob Halewijn prepare for the race

On Lap 1 of the race Stephané Devoucoux immediatley stopped at the hairpin. This brought out the yellow flags for a few laps till his car was pulled out of harms way. Dave had worked his way up to the top 4 & was battling with Pieter Bakker, Rupert & Antonio. Within a few laps Antonio & Dave had pulled out a lead on the others. Antonio lead for most of the race. 2 laps from the end Dave came around ahead of Antonio, he had made his move & was on his way to be the winner. Then on the last lap Antonio came around ahead of Dave. The next time I saw them was after the checkered flag and Dave was ahead of Antonio & waving like the Winner he had just become. On the 2nd to last lap Dave had crossed the line ahead of Antonio, but had started to run out of fuel. His car is open & as it slowed he slapped his helmet. Antonio saw this & easily passed assuming that Dave's race was over. Antonio then drove the last lap "not quite at full belt". But as he exited the last bend he suddenly realised that Dave was still there ( Yes I can believe that He can do a racing lap without using his mirrors !) but it was too late. Dave had the momentum & beat Antonio over the line by 0.28 secs ( eye witnesses say it was about 1 foot). At post race scrutineering Daves car was weighed at 751 kg (1 kg over the min required weight) you can't get any closer than that! Pieter finished a popular 3rd just 0.6 seconds ahead of Rupert.

I speak for everyone when I say "well done " Dave. A popular winner & a great guy. Also comiserations to Rupert having lost the trophy by 1 point for the second year in a row. BUT there's always next year & Ruperts wife Caroline is expecting their first child in the next 10 days or so. Since you didn't win Rupert, maybe Caroline will let you call him "Ayrton" as a sweetner.

Winners of race 2
Race 2 winners

At this stage I would like to go back to my accident. It was Quick ! the car was doing about 100 mph when I hit the wall. I walked away (well, actually I ran !). I have a stiff wrist & a bruised leg & that's all !!! The fibreglass absorbed a lot of the damage & broke off so not too much of the chassis is bent/damaged. The damage to car is not important. It makes for exciting pictures but ultimately it is all replacable/repairable.
I should have let go of the steering wheel ( No ! this is not what I did before the accident !) This would have saved me sprained wrist. By all means try to control the slide but there comes a time when you know an impact is inevitable. LET GO ! It could be a broken wrist next time.
As well as repairing the car I will now be looking at it in a different light.


I will fit new seat belts. They just saved my life & I will thank them by giving them to my nephew for his bedroom wall. I have heard that in such an impact, belts stretch up 5 inches (12 cm) I cannot trust them anymore. Mark & John say that between impacts, the car was off the ground, the drivers door was open & my head & right arm where hanging out of the spinning car. I have no recollection of this but I have my belts tight & can't believe I could have ever got that far out of the car. I did however & I'm lucky I wasn't crushed against the wall. How old are you belts ? Would they stretch or snap ? You have to change your helmet every 5 years or so , when did you last buy new belts ?. And what about the mounting points ? Make sure they are strong. Plate them up & make sure they won't bend, tear or give.
I wear a neck support under my helmet. This restricts head movement side-to-side & front-to-back. I had absolutely no problems with my neck at all after the crash. If I hadn't had this vital piece of saftey equipment I may have broken or at least badly sprained my neck. Guys, please buy one ! It's not much money (about 30 GBP from Demon Tweaks) & If you need it once you'll be grateful.
I'm considering driving with arms straps for next year. Pieter Bakker does in his open car & as he said, "A thin fibreglass roof won't stop you crushing your arms in an impact´". Straps are the only way to keep your arms in the car.
I drive a closed car with glass side screens & had my visor open. ( I nearly always drive like this - due to heat/sweat). I had a slight cut on my nose from flying glass. How far is your nose from your eyes ? In the case of me & Ian Whitt we have a reasonable safety zone, but seriously, the glass could have just as easily hit my eye ! Keep your visor closed at all times. Perspex will also give splinters.
How much protection will a fibreglass door give you ?
& finally Door Bars. If you don't have them GET THEM NOW ! My door bent like a bannana & stopped at the bar. Without the bar the door would have hit & broken the seat & after that comes my hip. They are not just there to stiffen up the car.


I walked away. Could you ?
I walked away. Could you ?

We're all prepared to buy the best Brake pads we can get or buy a new "hot" Camshaft. Spend some money on your saftey equipment this winter.

Racing the way it should be
Racing the way it should be

So that's it. The 2000 season is over. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a Fair, Fast & Fun year for everyone involved. I am looking forward to the 2001 season & seeing all my racing mates & a few new ones as well. The "Christmas" prize giving at the "British Car Show" in Holland will be over the weekend 13/14 Jan 2001. I will be there & so will most of the FISCies I hope. If you are a new driver or considering driving with us, why don't you come along ? Bring your partner, introduce yourself to us & have a laugh. It's a great social event, a nice car show & not as expensive as you'd imagine. I will post more details on the site when I have them.

I would like to close with a German Phrase. This is what the Germans say to wish each other a "Happy New Year" & since I won't see most of you before Xmas/New Year I can use it. Roughly translated it means "Have a good slide"

Guten Rutsch