Race Report for Zandvoort 2002
This race weekend was a bonus for me. I wasn't expecting to attend the event, but with 2 days holiday & a willing girlfriend, I drove the best part of 650 miles to & from this great seaside racetrack. Just so I could write a race report for you ! (Honestly !)
I arrived at about 02:00 AM Friday morning & parked in an already full paddock. When I got up on the Friday, various teams were already preparing for the 6 or so training session that they could take part in.
The sessions were dry & at 45 Euros ( about 30 quid ) it is good value. Most teams took the opportunity to practice & familiarize themselves with the track.
Training in the untimed sessions on Friday
Unfortunately these sessions also brought the first broken cars of the weekend. Rob Halewijn's ( whose car is MUCH quieter after the last race !) gearbox gave up & David Johnson had an engine problem. Rob got a gearbox from Dave Shannon & David called his future brother-in-law, Jeff, who was flying out, from the UK, Asking him to "put a cylinder head in the hand luggage". However a quick "head off", showed a holed piston & cancelled the weekend for David. Antonio was running with a bad misfire in one of the sessions.
The weather was nice. Dry & warm. My son & some of the teams enjoyed some time on the beach.
Friday evening was spent, as usual, in the Spridget Café catching up on the latest gossip.
FISC Spridgets qualifying - This picture expands if you click on it
The qualifying session for the 2 races was on the Saturday morning. It was a damp session & lap times were quite slow. Again I'm amazed how many drivers "stick together" when driving these sessions. Looking through the times the Pole was set by "Front Row" Faux with a 2 second lead over Antonio Bertini. Then there were Andrew McGee, Ian Hulett & Pieter Bakker all within 1 sec of each other. Ian Wright had qualified in 7th place, as usual a great showing from him in the wet. Mark Hope ( Markus Hope-less according to the time sheets ) has qualified in a lowly 15th place & Richard Evans had also qualified quite a way down.
Unfortunately Ian Wright had a spin, Mark Hope was close & spun to avoid Ian, However they touched & there was some damage. Mark dented the rear wing & Ian bent a front shock absorber. However they could both repair their cars & got a full weekends racing. Antonio had a new head fitted & Jean-Michel Guermonprez had some valves replaced in his head.
Mark Hope's damaged rear - Note elbow resting ON the door !!! - taking it easy or what ?
Ian Wrights front wheel - too much negative camber ? - no, just a bent front shock absorber
This qualifying session was doubly important because the one session decided the starting places for BOTH races.
Dullaert, Habermann & Wright qualifying in the wet
The first race started at about 14:00 on the Saturday. It was slightly damp at the start. Some guys had taken a gamble and left their "dry" tyres on. Others took a more cautious approach.
David Gibson set the scene when he managed to spin on the warm-up lap. ( at this point I have to say David is lucky. I managed to delete all my pictures from the 1st race, otherwise there'd be a great picture of David facing backwards, here).
From the start John Faux was flying. He took a very early lead & was pulling away. Antonio, Andrew McGee, Pieter Bakker, Richard Evans & Ian Hulett followed in a pack. But unfortunatley Richard beached the car & had to wait to be pulled out of the gravel. (This cost him almost a full lap).
Ian Whitt started from 6th place, but crossed the line at the end of lap 1 in 9th place. He lost 3 places on the first lap. It looked like he was in for a bad race !
Harald Habermann & Conrad Bos had misfires right from the start, both of them stopped after a lap or two.
The start of Race 1
On about lap 3 the heavens opened & it started to rain VERY heavily. It was torrential at times & I saw spins from at least the following drivers :- David Gibson, Steve Chapman, Richard Evans, Pieter Bakker, Antonio Bertini (at least 3 times) & Ian Hulett. Ian Wright was having his usual brilliant wet race & at one stage had worked his way up to 4th place. Ian Whitt was slowly working his way up the grid. ( There are too many Ians here, thats 3 in 3 sentences !) At various stages there were groups of cars coming round together, each group having their own close battles. Hans Dullaert & Steve Chapman spent a large part of the race close to each other. Hans had a lovely drift & opposite lock coming out the bend I was stood at.
Dols, Hiley & Halewijn qualifying in the wet
Mark Dols was catching leader Faux, until an "off" ended his race. Ian Hulett was surprisingly slow in the wet. He said " My car was running worse & worse, until I spun. I think this threw the water out of the distributor. It ran much better after that !"
Markus (not so) Hope-less was also working his way up the grid. Ian Whitt passed a struggling John Faux 2 laps before the race end & then showed John a screen full of spray. As they passed the chequered flag, Ian Whitt won by over 11 seconds, John Faux somehow hung onto 2nd place & despite at least 3 spins Antonio had 3rd place. Jean-Michel Guermonprez & Mark Hope had both managed to pass Ian Wright before the flag, the three of them finishing within 0.7 seconds of each other. A bit of a shame for Ian, but looking at the lap chart afterwards shows that Jean-Michel hadn't been overtaken by anyone & Mark had only been passed by Jean-Michel. Jean-Michel came from 18th to 4th & Mark from 15th to 5th. Great races from all 3 drivers!
Fastest lap went to John Faux by 2 seconds, that's how quick he was at the start of the race. But due to his "slick" tyres he was struggling in the rain. He told me he locked up at the 250m board & nearly didn't get round the bend. Talk about aqua-planning !
I haven't mentioned Simon Page yet !!! When I asked him what his problem was & why he finished 2 laps down on the leaders, his reply was "I had a fuel pickup problem". Basically his fuel was still in the jerry can in the pits. His pickup pipe only goes into the car tank & so he ran out of fuel !!
The rain is a great leveller & despite not having anymore dry trousers & 2 more days ahead of me, I thoroughly enjoyed the race.
Faux,Whitt,Bertini l-t-r Winners of race 1
The after race damage was amazingly low for the terrible conditions. Only Mark Dols & Pieter Bakker needing Tank Tape for their bodywork. Peter Hiley had a clutch problem & had driven the race "crashing" the changes without a clutch. David Gibson finished the race on 3. He's done that every race this year, I can't help feeling he has a problem.
Harald Habermann also had a gearbox problem & his weekend was over. Both Tony Davis & Conrad Bos had misfires & since Tony supports both cars he got Conrads going & sacrificed his own car/drive.
Saturday night was spent in The Spridget Café. The food was good, the company excellent & the floor under about 2 inches of water ! That's 3 visits to Zandvoort for FISC & 3 times it has rained VERY heavily !
I awoke on the Sunday morning to see a blue sky. The day looked quite promising & didn't disappoint.
No rain & warm temperatures. Great stuff !
The start of Race 2
On the first lap Antonio, John Faux, Ian Hulett, Andrew McGee & Pieter Bakker had already pulled away from the pack & were setting themselves up for a good race. John Hopwood, in his 1000cc FIA frogeye, had a fairly lonely race, bringing up the rear. This didn't stop him taking some great lines & using the track to the full, though. You could almost see the smile on his face as he passed us.
Jean-Michel Guermonprez couldn't repeat his 4th place from the day before because his race was very quickly over with yet more valve problems.
As they passed on lap 2, Pieter had dropped off the leading pack & was running a little way back, with Mark Dols & Richard Evans. Peter Hiley, Ian Whitt, Ian Wright & Ian Johnson were all running nose-to-tail, with Mark Hope, David Gibson & Simon Page within striking distance.
On the next lap, Antonio had pulled out a large gap on the following cars which were still close together, but Pieter & Mark Dols had caught them again. Richard Evans had fallen away & was struggling round in a car which only had 4th gear.
I was stood next to a bunch of English fans. Most Brits I know can't speak a second language, but everyone understood the commentator when he said "Bertini ist kaputt". I'm not sure what the problem was. Ian Hulett had passed John Faux. Andrew McGee & Pieter Bakker were all over each other & pulling away from Mark Dols.
Hulett,Faux,Bakker & McGee - The guys to watch !
For the rest of the race, no-one came anyone near the leading 4 cars. Ian Hulett pulled out a large lead over the rest & finished nearly 7 seconds ahead of John Faux. His distributor was well & truely dried out by now. No-one passed John Faux & he kept his 2nd place. However Pieter & Andrew McGee were having a great battle. At one stage Pieter had pulled away from Andrew, but towards the end of the race Andrew "got his second wind" & caught Pieter. This put Pieter on the deffensive & allowed John to pull away from them. These 4 finished over 20 seconds ahead of the next cars. Ian Hulett had managed to set a new FISC lap record.
Following them were Mark Dols & Peter Hiley. I didn't ever see Peter ahead of Mark & at the finishing line they were seperated by about 0.4 secs. But they spent the whole race close to each other.
Gibson, Johnson, Wright, Hope & Page
Ian Whitt, David Gibson, Ian Johnson, Ian Wright, Mark Hope & Simon Page were another good group to watch. Mark worked his way through this group from behind & finished 13 seconds ahead in a solid 7th place on the road & 6th FISC car (starting from 15th !). Ian Whitt had a great race but couldn't shake off David Gibson & Ian Johnson though. These 3 finishing within 2 seconds of each other
Chapman & Dullaert, like this for the entire weekend
I haven't mentioned Steve Chapman or Hans Dullaert yet, which is a shame. These 2 spent the entire race with no more than 2 car lengths between them. They had a great race, both were beaming when I saw them in the paddock, they also finished with about 0.2 seconds seperating them. Pretty much a repeat of race 1 but in the dry.
Rob Halewijn appears to sorted his "permanent head" problems & was having a great race close to Michel Van Kooten.
When I asked Ian Whitt, why he didn't repeat his performance from the day before, he replied "It was terrible, I was all over the place. I couldn't find radio 4 anywhere !"
Faux,Hulett,Bakker l-t-r Winners of race 2
So another great FISC race weekend was over. Various battles throughout the races. Great driving from both winners in the rain & dry. Even the mid-field & tail-end guys enjoyed themselves & had good clean, close races. And best of all, with the exception of the previously mentioned Hope/Wright spin & touch, not a single case of contact between the cars.
But to be honest, this is normal in FISC racing !