Race Report for Nordschleife 2001
Hello FISC fans.
This was to be the final race of the 2001 season. As you will see it really was not a good weekend for "Ian".
The competition !
I appologize for this race report. It may read like a list of "who broke what, when" but that is NOT the case. Every single driver was beaming after this race. It does not get better than this & I didn't see any of it. 182 Bends (some of them taken at 120 MPH), over 14 miles, 45° banked curves, jumps ( and apparantly a man with his dog on the track) are all out there. All I saw were the cars "blasting" down the start/finish straight.
I hope to drive the race next year.
I arrived late on friday night and immediatley found a group of guys feaverously working on Ian Burgin's ( Sorry Ian !) spare engine. Ian's 1000cc engine had broken its crankshaft during free training on the friday. His spare engine was only "half-built", had never run (after having been modified) and was missing all external ancilaries. The "group" included 3 other FISC drivers and they finished working at 00:40. Other "casualties" from the training sessions were Norman Sailer (1/2 Shaft), Rob Bierman (Gearbox) & Paul de Kuyper (Spin & Impact). With the exception of Paul, all the cars were repaired & ran for qualifying.
The qualifying session was due to start at 08:30. On the dot of 07:00 a spridget engine fired up & ran ( very roughly !). It was Ian Burgin & his group testing, timing & "running in" his new engine. I have no idea what time the guys got up to finish the work (or how cold it was), but these guys are dedicated to their hobby !
Lining up for qualifying
At this stage, I have to explain a bit about the track. Each lap of the Nordschleife is OVER 14 miles long. Our "normal lap" also includes part of the Nürburgring Formula 1 circuit. You leave the pits & drive a "short lap" round the F1 part, cross the start/finish line (to start the clock) then drive a "normal" Nordschleife lap. It is possible to drive (only) short laps (times DO NOT count !). This makes writing a race report almost impossible since the cars actually only pass every 10 - 11 minutes, this means you see them twice during qualifying & 4 times during the race.
FISC Spridgets qualifying
Over 30 cars lined up for the qualifying session. Ian Burgin ( sorry Ian !), Ian Wright ( sorry Ian!), Ian Whitt ( sorry Ian !) and Peter Hiley ALL stopped on the "short lap", although they all got going again & started qualifying laps as normal.
I never saw Ian Burgin ( sorry Ian !) or Ian Hulett ( sorry Ian !) again during the Qualifying session, they both lost drive out on the track, and never set a time. David Brooker-Carey, Mark Dols & Dave Shannon looked to be "flying". Antonio Bertini did a qualifying lap and came in the pits. A single qualifying lap is enough on this circuit & he was saving his car for the race. Rob Bierman also broke his second gearbox of the weekend.
With only 2 hours between qualifying & the race, there isn't much time to repair cars.
Ian B. got drive again in his car (not sure what the problem was, but it must have been diff or 1/2 shaft). Ian H. borrowed a "road" gearbox and was desperatley racing against the clock, trying to get it installed in time. In the end, he was still working on the car (without radiator or bonnet) as they were calling cars for the start line-up. Rob Bierman's weekend was over, as was Pieter Bakker's.
The cars set off on their "Short lap". Somehow Ian H. had finished the job, got changed & joined the grid in time. John Hopwoods car was very reluctant to start & run (only firing on 3), but he got on the track.
Some FISC guest drivers
John Faux never made it round the "Short Lap". His Cam Belt broke ( - this is an allowable FISC modification). Jean-Michel Guermonprez passed the line with a horrible sounding gearbox. He stoppped ( I reckon, Jean is french for Ian ! SO, - sorry Ian ).
At the end of lap 1, David Brooker-Carey was comfortably leading from Antonio. Mark Dols & Dave Shannon passed with nothing between them. Peter Hiley had 5th place and seemed to be enjoying himself. The cars quickly passed and I settled down for an 11 minute break, when suddenly Hans Dullaert appeared, he had had a "moment", but was still running.
At the end of lap 2, David Brooker-Carey had pulled out a 21 second lead, Antonio was still chasing. He was pulling out a good lead over the following FISC cars. Mark Dols & Dave Shannon were still close & fighting with each other. Peter Hiley was still glad he had fitted a limited slip diff & running in 5th. James Thacker had a comfortable 6th and Ian Hulett had an amazing 7th place ( remember he started last !). Further down the field Nick Rose & Ian Wright were also running nose to tail. Andrew McGee knew his tank was too small to cover the full race & he made a quick refuelling stop.
Mark Lister, Ian Johnson & Jasper Bardon in the pits
The end of Lap 3 showed a few sequence changes in the cars as they passed the pits. Remember all I saw was the cars driving down the start/finish straight. Dave Shannon was now comfortably ahead of Mark Dols, Ian Hulett had passed Peter Hiley. Ian Johnson ( sorry Ian !), Jasper Bardon & Mark Lister all pulled in the pits. Ian Johnson made a slight adjustment under the bonnet & set off again. John Hopwood passed the pits with dirt clearly visible on his tyres. He had had a "moment", visited the gravel, but rejoined the track with no damage done.
Burgin, O'Neill, Halewijn & Chapman - a great race !
The cars had spread out quite a bit now. At the chequered flag, David Brooker-Carey easily won, with a 51 second lead. His car is very much more modifed than the FISC cars ( telescopic shox, relocated engine etc ), but nevertheless, he can drive it! The next 3 cars were FISC cars. Antonio Bertini was 2nd on the road, but the leading FISC car with an 8 second lead over Dave Shannon who in turn had a 9 second lead over Mark Dols. James Thacker was next ( driving a car equally as modified as David Brooker-Carey's). Ian Hulett set fastest FISC lap (of the day), narrowly missing setting a new lap record ( sorry Ian !) he finished as 4th FISC car, but had started in last place ! Nick Rose & Ian Wright were seperated by 0.5 secs. Dave O'Neill (who had to "hold" 2nd gear - to stop it jumping out), Ian Burgin, Rob Halewijn & Steve Chapman (another convert the the "roofless" club) crossed the line with less than 1.8 seconds seperating them. Their average speeds differed by less than 1 km/h in total !
Nordschleife winners 2001
The results mean that Dave Shannon has won the drivers standings for the 3rd time in a row. If John Faux had driven the race however, the outcome would have been far from certain. Also if Dave had had a serious problem, Ian Hulett with his 4th place could also have won. ( sorry Ian !). It's pointless talking about the "whatifs" but these 3 guys have been close ALL year (check out the results sheets).
Check out the lap times for this year. 6 race weekends, 5 FISC lap records. Dave Shannon "Only" got quickest lap once. Ian Burgin's 1000cc car was 9th fastest of the year !! ( he also finished 6th in the drivers standings !)
After the prize giving, most drivers packed up & left for home. However a large number of us ( drivers, families & teams) stayed and had a BBQ. The atmosphere was excellent. Good charcoal (on & off the food !), good friends & good conversation. The topics ranged from the recent terrorist attacks ( on America & MANY other countries), FISC's future, driving techniques, links between FISC & other Spridget race series and more than a few very funny stories from Peter Hiley.
Most of these drivers are looking forward to the drivers meeting at the British car Show, which will be held on 12-13 January 2002 in Lisse ,in Holland.
See you there ?