Spa Six Hours Meeting; 30th Sept – 2nd Oct 2022
Silverline Championship Rounds 11 and 12
When you arrive to blue skies and sunshine at Spa, you know you are definitely in for a good weekend…. whatever the weather does next!
The Six Hours meeting, organised by the lovely Roadbook team, is always a great blend of quality grids and friendly atmosphere.
Our Formula Junior entries here traditionally attract a mix of our UK and Lurani regulars, forging new friendships, with nearly 50 of us for our Friday Pizza evening, and special thanks to the Lange Brothers, Christian and Johnny (making his debut in the ex d’Alberti Lotus 22), for hosting a Saturday social under the Glutton tent.
Qualifying on Friday afternoon was in the dry, and Manfredo Rossi, a year on from his last minute return to FJ, when he was driving Andrew Beaumont’s 22 in Andrew’s Covid absence in 2021. This time he was in his own white liveried 22, getting a lot of track time over the weekend between FJ, Six Hour and Masters Sports Car drives.
However, it was Beaumont’s CTL teammate, Lee Mowle, who this time was most definitely the man to beat in his Lotus 20/22, setting a pole position time of 2’49.392. Rossi was next, 1.5 seconds behind, with Philipp Buhofer third in his Lotus 27, ahead of Sam Wilson, who had a late invite to guest drive for one race in Hans Ciers’ drum braked Lotus 20.
Also double driving this weekend were Guy Verhofstadt and his Stirling Moss Trophy race co-driver Laurent de Meeus D’Argenteuil, with the latter taking the start on Saturday, and Guy starting from the back of the grid on Sunday.
So Saturday morning dawned, but only dimly, with damp and drizzle blocking the sun, and the sad news that Lee had to return to the UK to be by his father’s bedside.
This meant that in the early afternoon race, Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk4), having set a slower qualifying time down in 5th for Saturday’s grid when scrubbing in new tyres in the dry, was not only relishing the wet but had also risen another place on the grid. After the traditional rolling start, Roach was already into second by Eau Rouge, having avoided a spinning Tim Child at La Source, and then he passed Buhofer to begin his pursuit of Rossi. On Lap 2 he did indeed get ahead of Rossi, and held him off for 2 laps, but it was the rear spray of the Lotus that he was tucked up behind for the remainder of the race, finishing 1.2 seconds behind at the line. So, Rossi was back on the top step of the podium again, as he had been in the second wet race in 2021, with Buhofer in third.
Championship leader, Nic Carlton-Smith, was 4th across the line at the end of lap 1 in his Class C Kieft, but closely followed by Pierre Guichard (Lynx) and Christian Lange (Envoy), with a recovering Child behind. However, at the chequered flag, the order for these four was entirely reversed. An astounding drive for delighted local man Christian Lange gave him 5th overall, and an equally happy David Watkins followed them home with a 2nd to Guichard in Class D, in his Elfin.
In the Front-engined mix, Laurent took the honours on his debut in Guy’s Elva 100, after Barron (Gemini Mk II) had a near brush with a barrier following a spin, but luckily was able to carry on, and was the last of the unlapped finishers.
With the Sunday rain rather more significant than the day before, there were a number of non-starters throughout the field, opting to be sure of loading up themselves and their cars onwards for Dijon, and back home, in the same condition they’d brought them. So it was 17 brave starters who took to the grid for the 11am race start, including this time Sam Wilson (Lotus 20), starting on Row 1 alongside Manfredo Rossi.
With the conditions so wet, it was a safety car start for 2 laps, and frustratingly, despite repeated requests to slow the safety car down, it kept a very fast pace, meaning Rossi already had a gap from the rest before the safety car pulled in and the race proper got underway. Sam, on drum brakes, could do little to keep up, and once across the finish line, Roach was straight past both Child and then the 20, however Rossi was lapping consistently fastest, and excelling in the conditions, so the gap never closed quite enough for Roach to challenge. Another spin for Child put paid to any improvement on Wilson, so it was Sam who took third overall, very happy to have had the chance to race after all, following a late withdrawal for his Cooper T59, which wasn’t quite ready.
There was plenty of action lower down the field though, as FJHRA founder Duncan Rabagliati, true to Alexis form loving the wet, made his way up from 15th at the start, to 10th, taking the Class B2 win. Nic Carlton-Smith this time sealed the Class win, which secured him enough points to be declared our Silverline Champion, for the second year in a row, and only 3 years after his first ever test in a race car, something for any aspiring future members and racers to note.
All 17 starters, finished, which is credit to them all, and we celebrated with almost as many prizes as finishers, sheltered in the dripping Glutton tent for prizegiving, before goodbyes and good lucks were shared after a brilliant weekend, ahead of the Lurani finale at Dijon this coming weekend, and Silverline Championships conclusion at the Silverstone Finals the week after.