Race Report for Spa 2002
Not all the pictures on this page expand. Try your luck !
I arrived in the paddock late Saturday morning. I had to work Friday & knew it had been a very hot day in Germany. (over 30°C). Ian, Jane, David & Sarah Johnson had collected & written some notes from the practice. Initially I thought "Christ, they're all broken !" the list includes :- Oil Slick - Filter Housing gasket, Selected 1st & beached it, Bent Valve, No Clutch, Spun 6 times ( I wonder who that was ! #4), Broke rocker shaft, Clutch exploded, throttle cable, "drove like an old tart" & the absolute best.... Caught manhole cover in Paddock.
HOWEVER, through the normal FISC camradery, EVERY SINGLE car was able to start on the Saturday. Peter Hiley had not only caught the manhole cover, but was also trying to overtake it, when he indadvertently ran over it & managed to bend the front suspension leg on his midget !! It didn't seem to slow him down much though !
Mark Dols leads, Pieter Bakker, John Faux, Ian Wright & Ian Whitt - in less time than you took to read this title ! - Race 1
Possibly due to the extreme heat, times were quite slow. For the 1st race the 1st 3 cars where non-FISC legal. David Brooker-Carey had really shown what he can do, qualifying 13 seconds ahead of the next car, Malcolm Self. Malcolm, Mark Lister & Peter Hiley had qualified within 1.5 secs of each other. To an outsider this might not seem much, but Mark's car is high modified (relocated engine, modified suspension etc etc) Malcolms car is FISC legal , EXCEPT he had 185 Yokohama's & had removed his ballast weight. ( Malcolm explained to me that on his first 2 trips to Spa, due to technical problems he had only driven 4,5 laps. - this time he was only here for the fun of it). & obviously Peter Hiley's car was FISC legal. Bearing in mind, Peter got lapped in his first race with us, I think he has now shown his colours & will be a regular top 5 car this year.
Other noticeable qualifying times were :- Ian Wright had qualified as 5th fastest FISC car.
David Gibson ( a newcomer - hello & welcome ) in his first FISC weekend had qualfied in 14th overall - very respectable.
John ("front row") Faux had broken his rocker shaft & "shafted" himself into a lowly 18th place.
Also Ian Burgin in his amazing 1000cc Frogeye had only barely missed the back row..
Steve Waddington - Sorry no it's the Michelin Man, entertains some of the FISC kids
The qualifying times for the second race were a bit more "normal". Most people had improved by at least 3 secs a lap. Exceptions here John Faux 13 seconds, Charles Marriot 22 secs, Ian Burgin 19 secs, Richard Evans - ( FISC newcomer - Welcome !)15 secs, John Moon ( another newcomer - Welcome !) 10 secs, Michel van Kooten ( yet another newcomer - Welcome !) 7 secs, Ernst Daniel ( How many of these newcomers are there ? - Welcome !) 12 secs.
David Brooker-Carey had again embarassed everyone with a sub 3 minute lap time. The next 6 cars had qualified within 1 second of each other. Ian Burgin had climbed upto 13th on the grid within 5 secs of the 1380 cc cars.
As I said above I arrived late Saturday morning. I had already missed a big part of the fun. I was amazed to see how many Ex-FISC racers where there. Rob Beirman, Stephané Devoucoux & Family, Dave Shannon ( & Debbie), Ian Hulett & myself. We just can't seem to stay away. I hear Dave Shannon had worked on quite a few cars, & glad to report that a couple of the drivers even insisted on paying him for his time. He had also brought a number of spares & kept more than a few cars going over the weekend.
I should mention a couple of the cars. David Gibson has bought Rupert Douglas-Pennant old car. Those of us that know it, know that Rupert spent all of his budget on the mechanics & the optics took a poor second place... Just look at what David has made of the car !! & I bet it's not slower either !
David Gibson's Race Midget
Hans Dullaert, finished last season with a blue Midget & started this season with a red frogeye !... Check it out ! It's amazing what some new fibreglass pannels & paint can do !
Hans Dullaerts Frogeye
Also Conrad Bos was driving a neat frogeye prepared by Tony Davis. This car way rusty wreck not so long ago. It was finished just a day or two before the race, had never been driven in anger & finished both races with a respectable midfield position.
front to rear :- Charles Marriot (Modified Frogeye), Ian Burgin ( 1000 cc lightweight screamer), Conrad Bos/Tony Davis ( 1380 FISC Frogeye)
Saturday was a complete change from Friday. It was not warm & it was very wet. The race before the FISC race was a Porsche cup race & was red-flagged & restarted after 2 laps. I think the 911 with its engine on fire was the reason! This caused a delay in getting the FISC cars out & turned the track from damp into very wet !
Ian Burgin didn't even complete the warm up lap. His car was stuck in 1st & he left the collecting area, headed up Eau Rouge, trying to get another gear. He gave up & parked the car. Apart from this nothing untoward appeared to have happened.
I was stood at the busstop chicane & could hear the cars pick up speed down towards Eau Rouge. As they came through for the first time, David Brooker-Carey & Malcolm had already pulled out a healthy lead, ahead of Peter Hiley & Antonio Bertini. Rob Halewijn, spun at the busstop & lost quite a few places. The rest of the cars passed without incident. Somehow David Johnson had been overtaken by the saftey car at the back of the grid ! One of his headlamps was hanging out, but this didn't slow him down, and he was well in the pack again as they passed on lap 2.
Rob Halewijn's spin
By Lap 4 the race was settling down. David Brooker-Carey was having a lonely practice in the rain some 20 secs ahead of Malcolm, then there was a large gap, with Peter Hiley following. Peter had pulled out a good lead on the next pack Antonio, John Faux, Ian Whitt & Mark Dols. These 4 passed through the busstop with only a few feet between each car. I hear there was plenty of overtaking & late braking going on in this group. Ian Wright was flying! ( well OK, in the rain it was more like "sailing" ) & I saw him having to brake coming out of the bussstop to avoid running into the back of Peter Bakker. It's nice to see Ian having a good race.
The midfield cars enter the busstop for the first time - blow this one up !
On lap 5 David Brooker-Carey was almost lapping back markers. Malcolm was catching David, Then there was a HUGE gap ( about 60 seconds ) & Peter Hiley, John Faux, Antonio, Mark Dols & Ian Whitt entered the busstop. Antonio over braked himself & took the emergency exit. This cost him a few places. Ian Wright had pulled out a large lead over Pieter Bakker ( or had Pieter spun somewhere ?), But Ian also had a "moment" of his own at the busstop - see the following picture.
Further back I noticed that John Hopwood was appeared also to be "sailing". As a spectator you could see how clean his lines where through the busstop & that he was noticeabley quicker than a lot of the other more powerful cars out there. ( he drives an FIA legal 1000 cc Frogeye).
Ian Wright squeezing through the tyres
Laps 6 ,7 & 8 where pretty much the same. David Brooker-Carey, would have been giving everyone a driving lesson, but no-one was close enough to see it ! Malcolm was keeping a solid 2nd place. Peter Hiley was never looking like loosing 3rd. John Faux, Mark Dols, Ian Whitt & Antonio where all pretty close to each other. David Johnson had dropped well down the field again.
As they crossed the finish line David won, (there was never any doubt) Malcolm had a healthy 2nd place. Peter Hiley had beaten John Faux (by 1 sec) & Mark Dols as the first 3 FISC legal cars.
Ian Whitt had fastest FISC lap, almost exactly 2 secs quicker than the next FISC car & Ian Wright had a great 5th place (7th on the track). Unfortunately David left before he could be presented with his cup ( as if he needs another !).
David Brooker-Carey wins easily
I had to laugh on the "slowing down lap" as Jim Gotobed ( another newcomer - Welcome !) wasn't sure where to go at the busstop. You could see he was considering driving into the F1 pits instead of staying on the track. Malcolm was close & nipped past, blew his horn ( That's why you need a horn on a racing car !) & waved Jim to follow, which he duly did.
Checking round in the paddock afterwards, I saw some work going on. A new gearbox for Ian Burgin. John Hopwood had had a close call just before the start. He had stripped his distributor & eventually swapped it & retimed the engine, in the collecting area, because it wouldn't start. Post-race inspection revealed a bad connection in the ignition switch. Charles Marriot needed to replace the thrust bearing for his clutch, his race was over after 2 laps. Jim Gotobed had lost 3rd gear - he subsequently found most of it lying in bits at the bottom of his gearbox ! - He was in his first FISC race & was lent a gearbox by another FISC team, to let Mick Hopkins race on the Sunday. Simon Page kissed the barrier somewhere & removed some fibreglass & cost himself a lap. I HAVE to mention David Johnson again.... Some people would call him a wally for hitting the same armco twice, at exactly the same spot. Not me ! I think that shows an amazing skill, he didn't damage the bonnet, he did one light on lap 1 & not happy with that, he went back to do the second light a couple of laps later. This shows an amazing amount of driving skill. I couldn't judge it right. I'd probably wreck the entire bonnet !
Charles Marriot's Frogeye (white)- repaired next to Simon Pages (black) frogeye
Malcolm Self was beaming from ear-to-ear & praising Swifttune ( his engine builder )
Saturday night in the Spridget Café was great. It was packed, the food was good & the wine, beer, coke & loud music with a healthy amount of joking & dancing went on until after midnight.
As soon as I woke up, it was clear, Sunday was a different kettle of fish ( for you non-English readers out there - that just means its was very different). It was warm & dry. With the race not starting until about 15:00 there was plenty of time for car maintenance & I even saw a couple being washed !
For Race 2 I had gone to Eau Rouge, with Ian Hulett. The race got underway & Pieter Bakker lead them through Eau Rouge. He lead until lap 3. The first 9 cars being. Pieter Bakker, Mark Lister, Malcolm Self, Mark Dols, Antonio Bertini, Peter Hiley, Jasper Bardon, John Faux & Richard Evans . There wasn't much seperating these guys. Towards the back of the field Ernst Daniel ( another newcomer - welcome ) & Chris Evans ( This surely must be the last newcomer - Welcome!) were having a good battle with each other.
This is the first time I've watched the cars from this spot & it's great to see them sliding out of Eau Rouge.
Unfortunatley during the race, both Antonio & Jasper, put themselves into the gravel here, but both could be pulled out & continued. Antonio's spin only dropped him down the field, but Jaspers took longer & it cost him a couple of laps.
The start of race 2
From lap 4 Malcolm lead the race & never looked like loosing it. Mark Lister had a brief spell at the front, but was chasing Malcolm as soon as he got past. Behind these 2 came the FISC legal cars. From where I stood, Pieter Bakker had the lead for the first 5 laps, and then Mark Dols had it. But I understand that these 2 were regularly swapping places. Other cars in this group included Peter Hiley - running in a solid 3rd (FISC) place until his engine decided to drop a cylinder & he retired on the last lap, Antonio - Spun off at Eau Rouge & dropped himself half-way down the field, Jasper Bardon in 5th (FISC) place until a spin on lap 6 put him out of the race, Richard Evans a great 2nd FISC race, was in the top 5 (FISC cars), he got as high as 3rd when he was forced to take some avoiding action, hit a kerb heavily & damaged his exhaust system. This strangled his engine & he was forced to let John Faux past & accept 4th. John Faux was quite a way back & couldn't really catch the leading pack, but once they started to "fall off" he was there ! He managed 3rd place in the end.
I must also mention Ian Burgin, It's great to see him out drag someone through Eau Rouge in his 1000 cc frogeye. He apparently found some more power over this winter... Look out podium, here he comes !
Mark Dols leads through Eau Rouge
As they crossed the finish line, Malcolm had it in the bag. He had a 13 sec lead over Mark Lister. This is a great result. Malcolm will be 60 this year, his car is basically FISC legal & he beat all the other more modified cars - he also got fastest (non-FISC) lap in the race. Mark Dols had managed to keep Pieter behind him & won the FISC race by a mere 0,4 secs, with John Faux getting 3rd by 12 secs only 4 secs ahead of Richard Evans. This is Mark first win & is sure not to be his last ! - Congratulations. Fastest FISC lap was Peter Hiley, who only narrowly missed setting a new lap record.
Spa 2002 race 2 winners
So the racing was over, another sucessful weekend. No seriously damaged cars, plenty of seriously happy people & some great new teams. It doesn't get much better than this ! Other races this year include Dijon, Le Mans, Nordschleife, Zandvoort & Magny Cours. If you've not yet tried FISC racing, this looks like a good time to consider it. Great people, Great tracks, Great food & Close,Clean Competetive racing.
I think the biggest Smile of the weekend went to Chris Evans, who explained to me this was one of his dreams to race here ( & video it FOR FREE - unlike the UK).He runs in a road-going class in the UK & only has some 80 bhp ( Most FISC cars claim to have 120 - 140 ) I think he had the most Smile per BHP of anyone out there..... I believe Chris (& 7 other drivers ) have elected to do a couple more FISC rounds & is now a "Mini Champ" driver instead of "just" a guest driver for Spa. See guys, It's fun & it's addictive...
I won't be at the next race, ( Magny Cours in 2 weeks), but I wish I was ... (bloody houses !)