Spa 6 Hours Meeting; 14 – 16th September 2018
FJHRA/HSCC “Silverline” UK Championship Rounds 10 + 11
Despite qualifying not being scheduled until Friday afternoon, many were already set up as the drizzle stopped and mist lifted on Thursday afternoon, leaving a relaxed 24 hrs in the warming sun, for social and fettle time side by side.
46 cars headed out to qualifying; unfortunately, early in was Richard Bradley (Brabham BT2), suffering a cam shaft breakage, and a whole host of people were docked their fastest time in the culpable lap for exceeding track limits.
Early session leader was Chris Chilcott (Brabham BT2), but Chris Goodwin (Lotus 22) was soon lapping faster and faster, enjoying at last the full potential of his car now the Goodwood misfire was fixed and he took pole with a 2m 48.742. Greg Thornton (Lotus 20/22), like Goodwin, was benefiting from the experience of having had more lap time earlier in the day in qualifying for other races and was 2nd (2m 53.451) with Stuart Roach in his Alexis MK 4 in 3rd (2m 54.447).
First timers out not only at Spa, but in their recently acquired cars, were newcomer Keith Pickering in the ex-Michael Ashley-Brown Britannia, and David Drew, in the ex-Alex Morton Ausper T3. Whilst Drew went on to take 2 chequered flags, and a 13 sec improvement on lap times, with a huge grin inherited from Team Morton, sadly Keith’s qualifying ended prematurely with a misfire and lack of power, and his race never got going as he pulled off with a broken cam shaft on lap 1.
Also not completing the session were James Murray (Lola MK 5A), whose distributor came loose, changing the ignition timing and melting a piston, which put him out for the remainder of the track action, and Adrian Russell (Lotus 22). Adrian saw his gearbox problems however as another race opportunity, so set off shortly after qualifying with his son James around 6pm, back to the UK to load up the spare gearbox and return in time for Race 1 the next morning! They made it back and were so close…another 45 mins and he’d have been on the start.
Jeremy Deeley (Cooper T52) reported a crunching sound at the back, which miraculously cleared enabling a fun session, and Tony Olissoff (Elfin MK 1) was fine tuning his one-handed driving skills, having to hold fourth gear in place.
The end of the session unfortunately came a few minutes prematurely with a red flag, when Peter Fenichel (Cooper T56) had a moment and made sliding contact with the wall, settling up partially on track. Before the results were out, there were already Cooper T56 vultures borrowing pieces of his car for their own.
FJ were first out on the chilly track on Saturday morning, but a perfect formation rolling start led by Chris Goodwin, with Roach tucked as close as possible behind, headed into La Source. However, not all who went in, came out, and as the mid field pack bunched, Niklas Halusa (Lotus 20) was clipped, and as he spun, Tom de Gres’ path was blocked leaving him with a split radiator and damaged Cooper nose as a result. Further on round, Thornton (Lotus 20/22) spun, dropping him back to 10th. As he made his way back up through the field, unfortunately an optimistic move at the bus stop on lap 3 meant his Lotus caught the Brabham BT6 of John Fyda. After what seemed like an initial clean escape, it escalated quickly, as it transpired that the contact had ripped the tyre valve off Fyda’s rear wheel, and by Eau Rouge, the Brabham lost control with its tyre now fully deflated. Pete de la Roche squeezed through the narrowing gap but Chilcott next through had nowhere left to go and the Scottish Brabham duo had a sad end to their weekends, luckily with no physical harm.
So, Goodwin and Roach’s somewhat actionless races up front initially, were livened up when the safety car pulled in – at least in Stuart’s case. He just kept ahead for second, but Bullock (Lotus 27) got him on the run down to Eau rouge, after which he tucked into Marty’s slipstream along the Kemmel straight, before making the pass that he held onto to the flag, behind Goodwin. Mowle and Buhofer were hot on their heels too, and a few held breathes on the pit roof as they all negotiated the bus stop for the last time.
Further down the field, Pete de la Roche had transferred his skills beautifully from playstation to track on his first outing at Spa, and made up position from 12th in qualifying to 6th at the line and Class D2 victory. Andrew Taylor won the Class C2 battle of the Cooper T56’s, and further down in the drum braked class Trevor Griffiths and Jeremy Deeley were having a great dice.
Alex Morton was continuing his lightning form in his Condor to take Class B2, with Tony Olissoff (B1) and Clinton McCarthy (C1) the sole 1 litre runners, but they finished to earn their trophies!
A problem with the circuit communications led to a long safety car period during the HSCC closed wheel race a couple before ours on Sunday afternoon, so we had a 15 min delay and a quick start procedure out of the Eau Rouge assembly area.
Chris Goodwin and Greg Thornton on row 1 were late into their cockpits having been in the previous Masters Sports Car race, but thankfully enough time to pass the message to get circulated through the field about oil on track.
So 37 cars headed out, David Kent only just getting away late with a misfire, later admitting he really rather enjoyed racing from the back and making up the places. Chris Goodwin was already well ahead by the end of lap 1, but behind him in midfield Guarino (Lotus 22) ran wide off line coming in to the bus stop and hit Buhofer’s Lola with nowhere to go and quite an impact. The marshals, perhaps understandably tired after a long weekend, didn’t seem in the same hurry as those racing for the stricken Lola to be lifted onto the flat bed so it was 2 safety car laps before the restart.
Off again, and Thornton spun again, on the exit of La Source, facing the field blind in the middle, waving madly, but luckily all avoided. He managed to swing it round after the pack had passed into the end of the pit lane and the marshals tucked him out of the way quickly and the race carried on unaware.
Saturday’s dual between Roach and Bullock resumed, with Drake and Mowle in close pursuit, until the very last lap when Marty spun out of the chase, and left the podium spots to Roach and Mowle, with Pete De la Roche 4th for a Class win, and a big tick off his bucket list.
Morton had a moment at the bus stop on the last lap but was still well clear for front engined honours, while Besley got even with the Cooper win over Taylor.
Last on track, but delighted not to be so on the results, was Guy Verhofstadt (Elva 100), after Olissoff crossed the line in the pits just behind him.
Thanks to timekeepers, the results were available straight from the podium and a quick prizegiving attended by all ended a great sunny Spa weekend despite sadly not everyone being able to load up their precious cars in the same condition they’d unloaded them, before a dash for the ferries, and a reunion for some in the queue at Calais!