Good spirited and with an engine overhauled by Bernard Baxter we rallied on Dijon for the first race of the CFFC. Joost Pluim to assist on the car and Jan van de Beek to look after our more general well being.
As I arrived on friday in the early afternoon I had to make do with the last free practice. Because it was my fourth visit to this exilerating track I didn't see it as a disadvantage. That I could only do three laps was a worse prospect. Cause was bad or careless preparation: I left the main electrical switch on and transporting tires in my cockpit had switched on the ignition, so on arrival my battery was flat. We couldn't charge it enough before practice. On the bright side the weather was beautiful and the diner - a very big piece of roast on the barbeque - made me forget the setback.
The first qualifying was held on Saturday morning. It was cold and overcast but ideal circumstances to set a good time. Last year my fastest time was 1:33.5s and I could match that time quite quickly although I was now on old tires, where last year I had brand new one's. I took some doing to come into the 1:32s, but finally I clocked in a . I was 7th behind Hanno Hess, Onno Zuidersma, Alan Crocker, Chris Stones, Matthew Dean and Roel Mulder. Before the qualification started I had set my sights on sixth or better since I knew the track better than Roel Mulder. I still thought there was more in the car and I definitely had a better engine than Matthew Dean so there was room for improvement in the second qualifying.
Jan had prepared a beautiful lunch, so I was a bit worried that the added weight would make it more difficult to better my time.
Any hope of bettering my position on the grid was washed away by an afternoon drizzle. From experience in the 2004 race at Dijon I knew that grip was available on the wet track but it wasn't always where you wanted it to be. Therefore I used the qualifying session to find out where you could drive and where not. For instance someone told me the hairpin could be drive on the inside and I quickly found out it could not, as my spins demonstrated. Generally you have to take the outside line in most corners to get most grip from the track. This can be daunting as you are driving through corners at still quite high speeds only a meter from the gravel, which is especially evident in the last corner before the straight as the barrier is very close. So nothing changed for grid positions. My time in the wet was 11th, which didn't worry me as I hadn't tried to put in a quick lap.
| || || ||Class||1st Qualifying||2nd Qualifying|
|1||Hanno Hess||van Diemen RF88||B||1:30,622||1:53,964|
|2||Onno Zuidersma||van Diemen RF87||B||1:31,451||1:54,895|
|3||Alan Crocker||Ray FF71||C||1:31,480||1:49,894|
|4||Chris Stones||van Diemen RF85||B||1:31,527||1:50,443|
|5||Roel Mulder||van Diemen RF88||B||1:32,118||1:56,679|
|6||Matthew Dean||Reynard SF88||B||1:32,328||1:52,271|
|7||Ed Waalewijn||van Diemen RF82||B||1:32,811||2:00,515|
|8||Benita Brouwer||Reynard SF88||B||1:33,459||2:04,357|
|9||Paul McMorran||Crossle 20F||C||1:33,657||1:57,005|
|10||Rebecca Dean||van Diemen RF87||B||1:33,762||1:57,595|
|11||Stephen Collyer||Dulon MP15||C||1:35,509||2:09,180|
|12||Felix Haas||Mallock Mk 9||C||1:36,131||2:05,947|
|13||Paul Hubbard||Merlyn Mk 20||C||1:37,560||1:59,577|
|14||Roberto Kraft||Swift 88||B||1:37,815||2:01,932|
|15||Ernst Hänni||Dulon MP21||C||1:37,940||1:56,231|
|16||Povl Barfod||Titan Mk 6||C||1:39,675||2:05,352|
|17||Nils Leuber||Vaney 71/2||C||1:40,128||2:07,752|
|18||Thomas Rohmer||van Diemen RF87||B||1:40,465||2:01,695|
|19||Oliver-James Riester||Reynard SF85||B||1:43,639||2:04,690|
|20||Antonio Garrido-Mayer||van Diemen RF87||B||1:44,553||2:05,734|
On Sunday the day started out dry and overcast. Matthew Dean had been doing a rain dance all night, but that hadn't worked. Still there was rain in the air only when it would come or when it would go was uncertain. An hour before the race started the first drop fell and it developed into a steady drizzle. All hope of a dry race evaporated. Matthew was very optimistic all of a sudden. I was on the grid behind Matthew and Harald Kuhn. On the start I had no pressure from the back, but I couldn't keep up with Roel and Matthew. After the first corner I was bogged behind the two-liter of Harald and didn't like it. On the down-hill left of Bretelle I muscled my way past him anxious to keep up with the other 1600 ahead. I knew from experience that especially in the wet it is easier to let others determine the pace than to have to do it yourself. In the hairpin it became quite hairy in front of me. Onno went off and Matthew lost it, so I passed them both and followed Roel at a short distance. My lines were working wonderful and also the wet setting of the car gave me more traction than anybody else I could see. Coming out of the last corner before the straight I could make up serious ground on Roel, who was struggling with his car. In the following laps I could overtake him on the straight only to be brake out at the first corner as he judged his braking point a bit better than me - or should I say he was less apprehensive. Matthew had clawed his way back and was now trying to pass. I could keep him at bay for one and a half lap when we came to the hairpin where I defended my line instinctively by moving to the slippery inside. He toke his chance and out braked me on the outside and could run on the best part of the track. Accelerating out of the corner I almost lost it as the back stepped out on the slippery bit. I caught it just in time at 90° of the normal traveling direction. It mend that Matthew had a gap and I needed claw back at him. As he passed Roel, quite quickly, that became my next target. It toke me some time to catch up with him but when I was on his tail, I could see that he was still much more struggling with his car than I needed to do. Especially on acceleration I had the better over him, so I passed him coming out of the left Bretelle before the hairpin. I now blocked the right line through the hairpin. For some time I had seen Onno come back. He also made it past Roel but as he was about to charge me he made another mistake and was no more threat. I also made up ground on Matthew and was about to do the same to him as I did on Roel when the flag dropped while I was about a car length behind him. I was quite elated as this was my first result in a wet race and the first time I was fourth in class.
|1||Alan Crocker||Ray FF71||C||13||25:36,442||1:55,028|
|2||Hanno Hess||van Diemen RF88||B||13||25:36,649||1:55,732|
|3||Chris Stones||van Diemen RF85||B||13||26:01,173||1:56,212|
|4||Matthew Dean||Reynard SF88||B||13||26:07,340||1:57,444|
|5||Ed Waalewijn||van Diemen RF82||B||13||26:07,737||1:58,023|
|6||Roel Mulder||van Diemen RF88||B||13||26:11,308||1:57,756|
|7||Onno Zuidersma||van Diemen RF87||B||13||26:15,413||1:56,619|
|8||Rebecca Dean||van Diemen RF87||B||12||25:15,495||2:02,401|
|9||Felix Haas||Mallock Mk 9||C||12||25:15,795||2:00,893|
|10||Benita Brouwer||Reynard SF88||B||12||25:17,318||2:02,336|
|11||Paul Hubbard||Merlyn Mk 20||C||12||25:26,832||2:03,067|
|12||Roberto Kraft||Swift 88||B||12||25:42,291||2:04,178|
|13||Stephen Collyer||Dulon MP15||C||12||25:43,194||2:03,590|
|14||Ernst Hänni||Dulon MP21||C||12||25:57,849||2:01,688|
|15||Nils Leuber||Vaney 71/2||C||12||26:07,691||2:06,325|
|16||Thomas Rohmer||van Diemen RF87||B||11||23:46,927||2:06,436|
|17||Povl Barfod||Titan Mk 6||C||11||25:01,293||2:10,550|
|18||Oliver-James Riester||Reynard SF85||B||11||25:06,307||2:09,905|
|19||Antonio Garrido-Mayer||van Diemen RF87||B||11||25:32,042||2:09,960|
|Paul McMorran||Crossle 20F||C||5||2:00,959|
The fact the race ended so unexpected was due to some controvesy between the CFFC and the organisers. On the start it was anounced that the race was to be over 20 min where a 14 lap race had been agreed on earlier. This was put right just before the start but the result was that there was no indication of laps. Therefore I didn't know it was the last lap. Otherwise I would have tried a little harder to get my nose in front of Matthew's. This would have been possible given the possitions on entering the last corner. As I didn't want to overtake him at the straight I didn't push. Stupid! Lesson is: always try to get your nose in front at the finish line whatever you plan to do after that.