Race Report for Snetterton 2001
Hello FISC fans.
I have added some pictures & text, as supplied by Corine Duhayon-Devoucoux, to the end of this report - Steve
This Snetterton race report, due to the fact that Steve Waddington was too ill to attend the meeting, is probably less of a race report and more the inane ramblings of a mid-field runner!
To Me, Snetterton was to be the closest and easiest track to attend this year - Mark Dols, who I had spoken to at Spa, reckoned it would take him some 11 hours, whilst for us, a mere 3½ hours. We planned to leave home at 5 o'clock Friday evening - plenty of time to park, unload, socialise etc. The plans started to come unglued Thursday evening when I discovered someone had tried to break into the camper, the driver's side window was now all over the floor! - a bit like some of the windscreens at Spa!! Having phoned several windscreen replacement firms it was clear nobody had a side window in stock - I would have to sort it out Friday. Having made sure my work-mate had all the tools and "stuff" he needed I retired to the phone - one company said "no problem, Tuesday" - for a 24 hour service I thought not! A firm on the same industrial estate as Mick Mercer (ex-Spridget racer) could repair it at 1.30 p.m. So with all this unscheduled time on my hands I thought of all these little jobs I could do - change the screen on the Midget, change the inlet manifold - loads of jobs. To cut a long story short - as I can tell some of you are losing the will to live - we eventually left home at 11 p.m. and then had to drive some 20 minutes in the wrong direction to get diesel. As we approached Snetterton the sky was getting very light in the east - it was now past 3 a.m. Saturday. We drove through the paddock, saw the Spridget Café but nowhere to park so just parked up and went to bed.
Saturday morning we were woken, as usual, by the sounds of a motor circuit. We moved the camper and trailer to join the rest of the Spridgeteers, parking neatly between Peter Hiley's van and my daughter's tent (which I just had to shake - I don't know why, it's in my nature!). Breakfast in the café, then unload the Midget. I was quietly confident after a disastrous season, after the roll and all the ancillary breakages I thought we might be back as we were at the start of Nurburgring.
Still possibly suffering from the late night I found I was one of the last into the collection area - missing the 'noise man' which was possibly a bonus. We took to the track, the repaired gearbox sounded fine and the handling was much improved with the new straight axle. Very early into the session I saw Robert Halewijn deep in the undergrowth at The Esses. I have forgotten what the problem was - "navigation" possibly. I also remember flying past Ian Hulett along the Rivett Straight - the old Midge must have been on song! No, Ian's clutch had gone. Jane's lap board had me going 3 seconds faster than I had lapped in the past - "hold up" yellow flags, Pieter Bakker was parked at 90 degrees to the traffic at Riches, just enough room to squeeze past - then "red flag" into the pit lane. Evidently not the thing to do - I and many others should have stopped on the start/finish line on the track (according to Peter Hiley) - I'll know next time. We did a couple more laps then the chequered flag ended the session. I was still feeling confident when I was handed the times. Several short words sprung to mind - "poor" wasn't one of them but it will do. I may have done a personal best but it was still nearly 4 seconds behind Matthew Read, Pieter , Dave Shannon and many others.
Deflated, we went to watch the racing. Race 1 the Classic Sports Car and Saloon Challenge contained most of the Spridget grid in the up to 2000cc class. You have to say Mark Dols admission to having an engine over 3000cc (if you believe the programme) is a little worrying. We watched eagerly at Russell with most of the non-driving Spridgeteers. As the Midgets fought through the field there were red flags; we could see the blue Ford Anglia was missing but at that time were unaware of Stephane's predicament. By now we all know what happened, and we along with all Spridgeteers wish him the swiftest of recoveries. It did of course bring the 4-second deficit into perspective. Having said that we did have a fiddle with the motor for Sunday's race.
Saturday evening was spent in the company of family and friends in the Spridget Café after another splendid meal, this time provided by Rick standing in for Willem, assisted by Gerda and friends. Nick Rose and Andy did a fine job of clearing tables, washing up and wiping - well, Andy did a fine job and Nick was very supportive! After the Irish coffees, and probably due to the Irish coffees, some impromptu accordion playing and singing of unforgettable Dutch songs took place, Anne-Marie leading the vocal accompaniment.
Sunday - Race Day. (keep going - it can't go on for much more). Lots of things make me wonder in the racing scene, but one thing in particular - why do they line you up on the grid to the nearest thousandth of an inch in your grid position, especially when you are doing a rolling start?
I drove round in my lowly 21st position trying to keep a minimum of 2 car lengths as Pieter asked, but from way back, as I was, you could see the chicane at Russell causing a huge hold-up. Jane, behind pit wall, said the leaders passed in perfect formation - I was supposed to follow Ian Hulett with Dave O'Neill on my left - I followed Ian Wright through Russell and floored it! Ian Hulett had gone; I never saw Dave and waited for the start line to pass Ian Wright. We caught the bunch as we entered Riches. I remember passing Peter Hiley with the usual first lap scramble, I exited Sear up the inside of Malcolm Self hoping he wouldn't move over.
At the sharp end Matthew Read was leading the field with Pieter Bakker and Dave Shannon, but it was all to go wrong for Matthew, a suspected fuel pump failure caused him to loose power and steer into the gravel in the Esses. The previous lap Hans Dullaert's race came to an end and on lap 5 Robert Halewijn blew his seventh head gasket of the year - you have to feel something isn't quite right!! I was now chasing Rob Bierman who had Simon Page inches in front. As we entered Riches, Simon gently slid wide, Rob matched the move to perfection and I was passed them - a perfect pas de deux! Jean-Michel Guermonprez was the next car in front of me.
However, back at the sharp end Dave Shannon was stretching his legs. Rupert Douglas-Pennant who had come back to play was some 5 seconds behind with Pieter, having had brake problems, 0.3 second behind Rupert. Antonio Bertini obviously had an eventful race as he rejoined the circuit in front of me twice at Russell and once at Riches. I said to him after the race if he was waiting for me not to drive off so fast because I couldn't keep up. Typically it was all over too soon. I enjoyed myself, knocked over a second off my lap time, there were no red flags, and another win for Mad Dog Racing.
See you all at Dijon when Steve will do a proper race report!
The first lap
Stéphane was in front of Pieter & Antonio was just behind the Anglia !
On the second lap, Pieter is now in front of Stéphane.
And on the third lap, Stéphane is ahead of Pieter again.
But... on the fourth lap, Stéphane is missing. I only saw Pieter & the red flag being waved. I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures after this.