Race Report for Dijon 2001
Hello FISC fans.
Only the 1st picture in this report expands.
I arrived a bit late on a cloudless & very warm ( 30°C plus) day and had unfortunately missed both qualifying sessions. I didn't hear too much about the driving in the first qualifying session or see any results, but heard that 3 cars were disqualified for being underweight ( they could start the race, but would have to start from the back of the grid). Jean-Michel Guermonprez had a flat tyre and Simon Page was apparently running a special engine which he changed after qualifying.
The best circuit I know
The second qualifying session showed some amazing times & groupings of drivers. ALL cars had been modified & some minor repairs effected. ALL 3 underweight cars had fitted extra ballast & qualified legally. Ian Hulett & John Faux had both theoretically broken the FISC lap record held by Dave Shannon, although since only race laps are counted in the "Official" Fastest Laps, these laps don't count. Places 5 thru 16 ( 12 cars ) were seperated by less than 1.8 secs. This a difference of less than 2 Km/H average speed!
Before the first race I checked on Simons "Qualifying engine". It turns out that he had had a clutch problem & that was the reason he "swapped" his engine.
1st lap and they're already building their lead
With Antonio Bertini missing this weekends racing due to personal commitments, the top 3 was looking as you'd expect. The race got underway It was obvious from the first Lap this was going to be a cracker. I was stood next to Ian Huletts wife, Maggie, as he came over the brow, towards us, door handle to door handle with John Faux. She gave quite a loud gasp ( well actually a quiet scream !) & I thought, "Oh Oh" there's going to be another 11 of those. She got used to it & seemed to enjoy the rest of the race.
John & Ian were constantly swapping the lead, Dave Shannon was closely following these 2 but appeared to be keeping a healthy distance, whilst waiting take pounce at the first mistake or moment. Within a couple of laps John, Ian & Dave had pulled out a 7 second lead. Following them were Pieter Bakker, Ian Burgin & Jean-Michel Guermonprez. Another 4 secs behind them came Simon Page, Mark Dols, Rob Halewijn, Paul de Kuyper and Peter Hiley another gap & then the pack. You couldn't bet on who would be leading Ian or John, but whoever it was the other was, never more than a foot or two away.
3 different laps ! This is better racing than Formula 1
On lap 2 Norman Sailer pulled off, his car was suffering from extreme bad handling & he decided it was too bad to drive.
On lap 5 Pieter was pulling away & Jean-Michel was ahead of Ian Burgin. This put Ian down to 6th place. Before the race Ian was "worried". Dijon is his weakest track. His 1000cc car needed all the power & torque its ex-morris minor engine could muster. He was hoping for a top 10 place but was being caught by the following group.
The guys in the middle
On lap 7 Peter Hiley's engine sounded to be running very rough & Paul de Kuyper ( an Ex-FISC full time member, who has come back for a few guest races) was getting a bit wild & regularly locking up his front wheels. Further back, Nick Rose & Mark Hope were also having a good clean & close battle with each other.
Steve Chapman & Paul de Kuyper both spun ( Pauls was more of a wild slide though) which pleased the crowd somewhat.
Peter Hileys engine "died" on lap 9 & he pulled up close to Norman to watch the end of the race. Jean-Michel appeared to be slowing slightly, Ian Burgin had passed him for 5th place, but the rest of the pack were now very close.
Peter Hiley chases Ian Johnson
Meanwhile the leading 3 were seperated by less than 2 secs and had pulled out a lead of over 30 secs. I assumed that they would be slowing each other up, but no ! Chris Hulett was timing his father & his lap times were amazing. At the end of the race he had a couple of 1 min 45 sec laps (the lap record WAS 1:45) and the other 10 were 1:44 or quicker ! A definate new lap record was in the making. Maggie had got used to the closeness & was enjoying the action.
At the chequered flag John Faux crossed ahead of Ian Hulett with a 1.8 second lead and Dave Shannon was another 0.3 seconds behind. The pace had been blistering and Dave didn't get the break he was waiting for. Ian had however smashed the Lap record by about 1.5 secs
The following group of 4 cars was seperated by less than 6 secs. Pieter had held 4th place and the amazing 1000cc frogeye was in 5th !
The winners of race 1
4 of the top 5 cars & 11 of the 21 cars in the race were open. So, finally a race where more than 50% of the race cars were open. We could hardly blame this in our newest newcomer Richard Crane, who decided to remove his roof due to the excellent weather. But as Jean-Michel Guermonprez found, driving open can have its dangers. He finished the race with a dead large wasp ( Or small hornet) attached to his race suit in an area you definately don't want to be stung !
The swelling would be OK, but without the pain though !
After the race dust settled, there were cars being worked on everywhere. I have to say there was absolutely no accident damage, just mechanical problems. Ian Burgins car was running very hot. Simon Page & John Faux both had clutch problems. Mark Dols exhaust was hanging off. Ian Johnson had lost a valve seat, so his weekend was over. Jean-Michel also had valve problems. Mark Hope had broken a valve spring. Peter Hileys problem was a sticking valve and Normans handling problems were found to be caused by flat spots & gravel between the tyres & rims on his car. ( I feel a slight spin had happened somewhere !).
This sounds like a disaster. But, as is typical for FISC, EVERYBODY found what they needed. Every single car started the next race at 09:00 next morning. Ian Johnson was lent a head by Mark Dols & started repairing his car at 22:30. His weekend was saved ! Ian Burgin even found a spare radiator !
Saturday night in the Spridget Café was excellent as usual. Despite the brilliant racing, these are the lasting memories I will keep. The lights/generator went out at about 01:00.
Sunday was an early start & as I said EVERY car started. I was expecting a closely contested first corner and was pleased to here the commentator say "No problems in ze first corner" - he was French. As in race 1 John, Ian H. & Dave passed together. Pieter was close behind them.
Peter Hiley's repairs didn't work & his race was over by lap 2.
Early morning racing
Throughout the whole race John & Ian swapped the lead, this time however Pieter managed to squeeze past Dave. Again the leaders driving at an amazing pace. No-one came near them during the race. By lap 7 they were lapping other cars.
These pics are from the second race
And then Pieter Bakker joined in
The group following consisted of Mark Dols, Simon Page, Ian Burgin & Rob Halewijn (heard this before ?). Paul de Kuyper spun himself out of contention on lap 4. Steve Chapman was in the second group for a while as were Mark Hope, Jean-Michel Guermonprez.
The Pack chase the leaders
On lap 11, Ian Burgin broke a halfshaft whilst pulling up the hill, Simon Page was directly behind Ian & was instantly confronted with a rapidly slowing car. The choice was instant. Simon threw his car against the crash barrier & avoided hitting Ian. Luckily the damage appears to be limited to a fibreglass bonnet. Simon managed to continue his race still finishing less than 60 secs behind the leaders.
The final result was a good match to the first race. This time Ian led John over the line with Pieter & then Dave completing the top 4. These cars were seperated by less than 9 seconds and had a 30 second lead over the following cars Mark, Jean-Michel, Ian Johnson & Rob, who were seperated by less than 5 secs.
The winners of race 2
Unfortunately, also on lap 11, Ian Wright had a big moment on the very fast bend onto the start/finish straight. His car hit the barrier at about 100 mph & flipped over damaging almost all the pannels including the roof. I spoke to Ian after the race and he is OK. He wasn't injured. He's hoping the damage is limited to pannels & he can race agan this year.
I have also just updated the current points standing for the season. Look at them carefully. If Shannon, Hulett or Faux have a bad race weekend ( don't forget, there is only 1 race at the Nordschleife) & don't collect any points, Ian Burgin & his 1000cc Frogeye is almost guaranteed 3rd place in the points standings !!! There are instantly 2 things that spring to mind here. Firstly Ian has not yet had a podium finish this year ( long overdue ) & is currently in a convincing 4th place , secondly the top 4 in the drivers standings are all good friends & usually park near each other, eat together & socialize together.
The next race is at Zandvoort in Holland. Unfortunately, I won't be there to watch it, but I'll be reading the race report as will many of you out there.