Spa Six Hours Meeting 2021
FJHRA/HSCC Silverline Championship Rounds 9 + 10
The Brits were back in Europe, with eight other different nationalities joining them in a strong 27 car field.
If it isn’t Brexit or Covid, then it’s the petrol station crisis: and it was that which triggered a last minute switch for Team Fyda, from Spa to Dijon the following weekend, not wanting to risk the uncertainty of being able to fuel up on the long drive from Aberdeen to the ferry.
Andrew Beaumont was unable to travel at the last minute, but his cars were already on the Classic Team Lotus truck, so it was a delight that Manfredo Rossi stepped in to rejoin FJ, to take the 22 drive; and Phil Keen drove the FI 18 in the HGPCA races, also winning in the pouring rain from Will Nuttall’s Cooper: we just hope Andrew does not forsake his own drive in future to be a winning car owner instead!!
Duncan in the Alexis was having his first Continental race for two years, joined by Silverline Championship points leader, Nic Carlton-Smith (Kieft), first time at Spa, or in fact racing abroad anywhere, and more seasoned runners, Stuart Tizzard (Cooper T56) and Clinton McCarthy (Lotus 18), both also sharing an Elan in ‘Gentleman Drivers’. Also over were Adrian Russell (Lotus 22), back after his memorable 2018 appearance which had included an overnight dash back to the UK for parts, Tim Child (Cooper T59) and Peter Edbrooke (Lotus 18), teamed up with local Bruxelles based Lotus 27 owner Peter Morley. Peter recalled how the Morley’s had looked after his Lotus 17 in 1982, back when the circuit was double the length2 , and how the town of Francorchamps had put on a welcome party with unlimited beers and wines, and they then went racing!!! Shades of Angouleme, not that long ago !!!!
Most stunning of all the Continental cars was Emanuele Guglielminetti’s beautifully restored Ford engined shark nosed Wainer, while Christian Lange was back with the ex-Ian Raby Envoy, and offering encouragement to brother Johnny to join FJ with a Lotus 22. Former Belgian PM, Guy Verhofstadt was out again in his ex-Martin Carter Elva 100, now dark green, as was Tom de Gres with the red Stanguellini, and Pierre Guichard was back with his Lynx T3, another from theex-Martin Carter stable. Both the latter were being looked after by Dan Setford and Team.
Two visitors made the treck across the Atlantic, John Megrue joining the Halusa team for his FJ debut in the ex-Jonathan Williamson 22, and Jeffrey Anderson (with Sherry) over from Texas, to drive his Lotus 20/22 which is kept and run by Bob Juggins.
Friday pm qualifying was dry and there was little to separate teammates Alex Ames (BT6)
and Lukas Halusa (ex-Rossi 22), with Mark Shaw, Manfredo, and Philip Buhofer in the ex- David Innes 27, closely matched behind.
Both Cooper T56’s were, however, in trouble. Johannes Offergeld, with new Crosthwaite and Gardner ERSA box, searching for 5th, and Tizzard pitting.
However, poor Adrian Russell was to be celebrating the rest of his 65th birthday that day waiting for the borrowed welding equipment to arrive the next morning courtesy of Mec Auto, for Iain Rowley to work his magic on the rear chassis frame of the Lotus, after an upright pulled out on lap 1 of qualifying.
Rolling starts are uniform at Spa, though a rarity for FJ, but all were clean away in Race 1 except Buhofer who had stopped and restarted on the out lap with fuel pump problems, before it stopped again at La Source; race run!!
Alex Ames (BT6) took a strong and immediate lead, from Shaw, but their lead was eventually whittled down by Rossi, for a very close threesome finish, with Lee Mowle (20/22) next on the track, but perhaps his saloon car experience difficult to exorcise, handing him a 15sec penalty for “track limits”, dropping him behind Lukas Halusa. Tim Child has been up there next, ahead of US visitor, John Megrue, but the borrowed gearbox main shaft broke, perhaps due to an historic crack. Adrian Russell came next after the first of his splendid drives from the back, just failing to catch Megrue, ahead of Championship leader, Nic Carlton-Smith’s Kieft. Ralf Emmerling led the front brigade in his Gemini Mk2 (but would later be missing race 2 to visit his elderly mother).
Johannnes Offergeld started late from the pit lane, but once he got going, shot through the field and was putting in lap times between those of the Kieft and Tizzard, although he was still finding a vibration and brakes an issue.
Guichard and Martin Halusa had a mild coming together due to a misunderstanding, both retiring at the pits.
Duncan was gamely keeping ahead of Guglielminetti, but when Anderson finally got the bit between his teeth, superior Ford power took them both past Duncan on the rise after La Source on the penultimate lap, although Duncan held on in touch to the flag.
Saturday night was a jolly FJ party at the pizzeria in Francorchamps, with the expected Spa weather finally rolling in, damp at first for the Six Hour race, before the rain came down for the final stint in the dark finale.
Race two for FJ, last of the day on Sunday, was the worst weather of the weekend, and most of the Belgians and Americans (sensibly?!?) pulled out, leaving 15 starters, but even though Eau Rouge was a complete blur except for heavy spray and a red tail light ahead, all the brave survived, and Manfredo Rossi showed his experience with a superb win from Ames and Mark Shaw again, so it was at least the resounding tune of the Italian national anthem that rang once this weekend.
Russell drove another superb race from the back, only a spin preventing him challenging for 3rd, while Nic Carlton-Smithsealed The 2021 FJ Championship, but only track was only a smidgeon ahead in the wet, of a fast charging Stuart Tizzard in his Cooper T56.
Lee Mowle held third ahead of Shaw in the early laps, but slipped back in the conditions to be fifth behind Russell.
Duncan bogged down at the start but was past Guglielminetti at La Source and took Guichard on the run up from Eau Rouge and held on to Lange till the latter broke a stub axle at La Source on lap 5; Martin Aubert was just in sight but now too far ahead.
Edbrooke completed the brave finishers after Hans Hillebrink had a gearbox problem on the penultimate lap.
Duncan wrapped up a great weekend with the second Prizegiving and everyone who gathered and finished went home with at least one well deserved Trophy.