Race Report for Spa 2003
This was the first FISC race weekend of 2003. I arrived early on Saturday morning having missed some of the "Fun & Games" from Thursday/Friday.
Friday had been warm & dry. There was a 20 minutes "qualifying session" at 08:40. Looking through the laps times a few surprises were already evident. ( no particular order here ) Richard Evans was listed as having driven 1 lap & had set 3rd fastest time. I don't know how much F1 Richard has been watching, but we are not using the same qualifying system ! It turns out, he drove a warm up "outlap", then "clogged it" for a fast lap & on his second flying lap, he broke his crankshaft, thus dumping some oil on the track. This obviously slowed everyone else down. ( Good Tactic !). Although Richard was lent a spare engine by a fellow FISC racer, he had a constant eletrical problem all weekend & rarely drove more than 1 lap at race speed.
Malcolm Self had set a time nearly 4 secs quicker than anyone else. Malcolm has a history of bad luck at Spa & what some of you won't know is that he should have been in hospital for an operation on Thursday. He had delayed the operation, just to come racing. His car was underweight & had "sticky & wide" tyres on it, so he really was here just for the fun. Not bad for a Grandpa !
It looks like Ian Wright & Michel van Kooten have been practicing over the winter ( Michel has painted his car as well !), the both qualified in the top 8, above some of the "expected" quicker FISC drivers.
Also on a bad luck trip this weekend were, Simon Page, listed as having not completed a lap. He lost a wheel out on the track. Alastair Chalmers was also listed as having only managed 2 laps, he had a serious misfire. And Pieter Bakker isn't credited with getting onto the track, his gearbox had broken & he was waiting for a spare from Holland.
Both Ben Kap & Hans Morrison from Holland, were racing with us for the first time and set respectable times.
As I said, I missed race 1 ( Friday @ 12:50) points worth noting however are.... Ian Hulett started with a BIG bang, winning by almost 5 seconds from Peter Hiley. Conrad Bos got 3rd place. Malcolm came in 4th ( setting fastest race lap - since his car wasn't FISC legal it doesn't count ). So who did set fastest FISC lap ? Ian Hulett & it's a new FISC lap record ! Both Conrad & Peter Hiley managed lap times within 1 second of Ian, but everyone else was at least 3 seconds off Ian's pace.
James Bilsland had apparently lead for some of the race before he slid into the gravel on lap 7 & finished as last classified car.
5 drivers are listed as DNF ( Did Not Finish) including John Faux & John-Michael Guermonprez. Richard Evans, Pieter Bakker & Alastair Chalmers didn't take the start for the previously mentioned reasons. Since every race counts this year, it looks like a DNF could ruin your season.
The start of race 2
Saturday morning was completley different from Friday. It was cold & wet.
Pieter Bakkers gearbox had arrived & was fitted with the help of a few FISCies. Richard Evans was lent a spare engine. Alastairs team had found the misfire.
The race gets underway !
The start grid for race 2 was determined by the finishing position from Race 1, so there were some quick guys at the back !
I stood at the exit of the Bus Stop chicane & behind me could see the cars joining the track at Eau Rouge. It looked & sounded like Pieter's new gearbox had already lost 1st gear & he wasn't going to take the start. He managed it eventually.
Yes, you see correct. That's the saftey car at the back on the rolling start lap & John Faux ( 3rd last ) won this race !
Alastair didn't take the start & crawled up the pit lane on the warm up lap, with his car still misfiring. Lap 1 showed Malcolm Self & Ian Whitt had come from 4th & 5th respectively to have a healthy lead over Peter Hiley, Ian Burgin (1000 cc screamer !) & James Bilsland ( He had started from 18th place). Ian Hulett ( from Pole position) was already dropping back.
A close midfield race
Spa is great in the wet for a spectator, plenty of locking up of brakes, spins & "tank slappers". The FISC cars didn't disappoint. Throughout the race wherever you looked there was close, clean racing.
4 Dutch guys & 3 Brits in this picture
Malcolm was walking away with the race. On lap 2 he had a 13 second lead. Ian Whitt was hanging on & 11 seconds behind him was James Bilsland. Malcolm stayed out in front & extended his lead every lap. James caught Ian Whitt for most of the race these two had a good battle, although James was always behind Ian as they exited the Bus Stop. The guys to watch however were John Faux & Jean-Michael Guermonprez. They started from the back & there was never much more than a cars length between them. John's in-car video was watched by most of us on Saturday night & I don't think it's an exageration to say the racing was better than most F1 races you can see nowadays. John & Jean-Michael had worked their way up 4th & 5th by lap 5.
Ernst Daniels & Hans Morrison lead the chasing pack
Early on in the race, Peter Hiley managed to loose a wiperblade. His visibilty was severly restricted, he did well to say he couldn't see much.
Ian Wright has a history of doing well in wet conditions & I was watching him. Unfortunately, He came in the pit lane on Lap 4, by lap 7 I could see him wearing jeans in the pits, working on his car.
By lap 6 Malcolm was lapping tail-enders. Hans Morrison even found time to blow his horn & wave at the FISC Kids (FISClets ?) watching the race.
If you look closely, you'll see Richard Evans on one of his laps
John Faux, working his way up the field
See. Alastair Chalmers DID get on the track at least once !
Ian Whitt & James Bilsland lead with John Faux & Jean-Michael Guermonprez catching up
Malcolm won the race by almost 90 seconds. James finally outbreaked Ian into the Bus Stop, but these 2 , still had a good lead over Jean-Michael & John Faux. The results sheet, however, shows an amazing fact. Between the Bus Stop & the finish line John Faux got past 3 cars. He was 2nd on the road & 1st FISC car. His lead over James was 0.026 seconds, with an average speed of 112.780 KM/H. According to my calculations that is a lead of 81 cm. ( about 2 feet ). I call that close !
Jean-Michael had also passed Ian Whitt to take 3rd (FISC) place. So the first 3 FISC cars had all passed at least 15 cars each to get there.
Race 2 winners
Queuing up for postrace check
The recovery guy isn't impressed with Andrew McGee's Eau Rouge 'Parking'
Simon Page's rear end
Saturday Night was spent in the Spridget Café. We all enjoyed a great meal from Willem & his team. Someone had brought a "beamer" & video wall, so about 20 of us watched John Faux's in car video. As I mentioned above, it was amazing. Jean-Michel Guermonprez played a staring role, but almost every car was featured ( from the back !). Later on I saw the James Bond movie ( Die Another Day ) running. The audience was much smaller, even for the stunt driving scenes.
The downpour just before race 3 started
Race 3 was on Sunday lunchtime. Most drivers where unsure about tyre choice, since it was damp, but drying out. However 5 minutes before race start there was a torrential downpour. As fas as I'm aware, Andrew McGee was the only one who didn't take the start. His car wouldn't fire up. Later on his van did the same trick & also refused to fire up.
This is how Race 3 started
Lets start with the guys who had the most bad luck. Malcolm Self & Pieter Bakker both managed to spin on the warm up lap ( funnily enough, both on the same corner ), Richard Evans still had a misfire & is credited with 1 lap. Ben Kapp is credited with 2 laps & came back in the pits carrying a front wing ( I later heard his wife rejoicing about the fact that the headlamp hadn't broken). And finally, Alastair Chalmers, This time they really had found the misfire & the car was running well. So well in fact that he slid off, hit a barrier & bent a wheel !
The leaders with Ian Hullet 5th
The leaders with Ian Hullet 4th
The leaders with Ian Hullet 3rd
Now to the race ! On Lap 1, Ian Whitt got a bit too close to Steve Chapman at La Source hairpin. Ian's headlamp shattered & he ran over his own glass - Game Over Player 1 ! Jean Michel & Jahn Faux, had enjoyed their dice so much on the Saturday, that they repeated it on the Sunday. For the first few laps they led & fought with each other. Ian Hulett had started in 10th place, but by lap 5 , he had worked his way upto 3rd place & had the lead on lap 6. He never lost the lead & took the flag 1.5 seconds ahead of Jean-Michel, who himself was 0.4 secs ahead of Jahn Faux. Malcolm has started last ( following his warm up spin) & finished 4th.
There was an amazing scrap taking place in the midfield. This involved Ian Burgin, John Moon & Simon Page with guest appearances from various other guys. Ian, John & Simon were always within a few cars lengths of each other. It was a joy to watch ! As they finished the race the following 7 cars all finished within 5 seconds of each other :- Ian Burgin, Michel van Kooten, Simon Page, David Gibson, Ernst Daniel, Nick Rose & John Moon. Great stuff
Ian Burgin, John Moon & Simon Page. Close all of race 3
Simon Page, John Moon & Ian Burgin. With Malcolm Self coming through from behind
Rob Halewijn mixing in with Ian, John & Simon
All races count this year & the top 6 after this weekend were :- Ian Hulett, Peter Hiley ( I hardly mentioned Peter above, but he had a 2nd place & two 6th's), Conrad Bos ( again hardly mentioned but he had a 4rd & two 8th's), Steve Chapman, James Bilsland & Jean Michel Guermonprez.
So it's clear that to get a good overall result for the year regular top 10 finishes are needed. A couple of DNF's & you're out of the running.
The next race is in Montlhéry in France.
See you there ?