October 13, 2005

Super Graduates Round 9 and 10 - Spa Francorchamps

So, this is the big one as we take a trip overseas to probably the best F1 circuit of them all, Spa Francorchamps. After a relatively easy trip down on Thursday we had two hours of testing on Friday afternoon. The first was good, if a little damp, and I relearned the circuit having been here a couple of years ago. The second hour was a write-off with so many GT cars on the track.

Qualifying was wet, very wet. All the rollbars came off and we went out for the 30 minute session which was only going to be around 9 laps. I was very pleased, going past quite a few people and ending up with a best of 3:32.530 which placed me 20th and 6th in class, just behind Roger. Full qualifying details are available overall and by class.

A quick video of my fastest qualifying lap showing the lovely conditions!

Spa Qualifying (17Mb Windows Media File)

So, onto the race. The weather is dry so I spend a frantic half hour putting the roll bars back on the car so that it is in 'dry' spec. It stays dry until we are sitting on the track entry road when the heavens open but it's too late to do anything so almost everyone is going out on a soaking track with a dry setup. The grid is huge with 55 cars lining up for the start (after La Source on the hill that runs down towards Eau Rouge). The gradient means starting with a foot on the brake but the in the wet that isn't too much of a problem and we all get away cleanly. I get past Tom Overton in the run down to Eau Rouge but everyone sensibly backs off and lines up as we go through the corner. The car twitches as we come over the brow and gives me a taste of what I'm in for! At the end of the straight there is some very early braking and I make up another place going into Les Combes with Roger immediately in front of me. Toby Briant comes through on the inside round Pouhon and I make the big mistake of touching the curbs but just about manage to hold on. Tom Overton gets back past me and then past Roger and I chase him into the bus stop but can't get past - but I do manage to squeeze past Roger on the exit. Onto lap 2 and it's a Mega chase: Roger comes past on the Kemmel straight but not for long as I outbrake him into Les Combes. I think that I'm 5th in class at this point. I chase Tom Overton all the way round the lap and get close until I get too close at the Bus Stop, tapping Tom's wing (sorry!) and letting Roger back through, at least until La Source when I take the inside line. A really scary twitch at the top of Eau Rouge on lap 3 lets Roger through but I'm grateful to still be on the circuit. I drop back a bit from the group and am desperate to catch them up - a bit too desparate as the car gets twitchy through Pouhon and then runs very wide at Les Fagnes, losing more speed and another place to Matt Gilbanks. On Lap 4 the safety car appears and stays out until we go into Lap 7. Unfortunately my front nearside wing starts flapping around and although I tell myself not to think about it I lose a couple of places and then spin at Les Fagnes with only myself to blame. A load of cars come past and I almost lose it again at La Source due to red mist clouding my vision! Eventually, on Lap 9, I get past James Sykes who has a wobble at the top of Eau Rouge. Andy Molsom and I have a spirited battle into Les Combes but I come off the winner this time. After pushing hard through the lap I catch and pass Mark Heywood. As we come out the Bus Stop for what turns out to be the last time I'm getting close to Sean Southwood and have a very speculative look down the inside into La Source. Sean is, of course, not phased and I don't get through, eventually crossing the line in 9th in class and 22nd overall. Not too bad considering the spin, but I shouldn't have spun!

Spa Race 1 (70Mb Windows Media File)

Matt Burrows took the overall win with Jamie first in class, Rory second and Nick Haryett third.

Full race 1 results and by class are available.

Onto race 2 and most definitely dry this time! I get a pretty good start and go past Toby Briant off the grid. Lap 1 is a battle all the way round with, amongst others, Matt Gillbanks and Paul Manyweathers who are both past me by the time we go into Lap 2. I seem to be going backwards through the field with a number of Megas sweeping past on laps 3 and 4. After chasing Keith Pennington for over a lap we swap places a couple of times on lap 5 but I'm then really annoyed to miss a gear change coming out of La Source and I lose another few places. On lap 7, with Paul and Matt just about in sight, I spin on my own again at Stavelot and lose another load of places. On lap 8 the safety car comes out which allows me to catch the pack. We're well placed for a great race with Chris Rome behind me and James Sykes, Jamie Bashall and Sean Southwood in front but it's not to be. We finish the race under the safety flag. I'm 11th in class and 28th overall - my own fault for spinning.

Spa Race 2 (45Mb Windows Media File)

Martin Amison takes the overall win with Rory, Jamie and Nick on the Super Grads podium. In the Megas championship, Matt Burrows' has now done enough to win overall. Congratulations!

Full race 2 results and by class are available.

Off we go to Pembrey for the final two rounds. I'm currently lying 9th in the overall table, which isn't too bad, and there is the possibility of making up a further place or two so I need to put in some good results.

Posted by charles at October 13, 2005 10:41 AM