Spa is always a track to look forward to but this year started out on the wrong foot. The weekend before we were due to perform our tricks on the famous track, my camper broke its timing belt and I had to scourer for a new engine. This would put a financial strain on my seasons end. Luckily Jan van de Beek was kind enough to lend me his car, so I didn't have to use my little Renault Megane Coupe to carry all my stuff to the Belgian Ardenne. For boarding I found a Hotel nearby where my mate Joost Pluim had planned a weekend with his girlfriend.
I had deduced that my gear problems which I had at Dijon were due to a faulty third gear. I had major problems whenever I had used 24-28 and I hope this would be cured by using 23-28. At the beginning of the first practice everything went well. In the cold and slightly misty conditions I first battled with Hans Krahm to get the best out of a lap. However we were holding each other up. Once I freed myself of our involvement I was able to set a reasonable lap. This was however done with shifting from 2nd to 4th as my third gear had seized to function. Two laps after this happened even 4th began acting up. I tried one more lap and then I gave up. My best lap with three gears was 1:53.0 which was still good for fifth. Basically my normal position as Hanno Hess had again joined our ranks and the champion of last year generally has more speed than yours truly.
In between practices I changed dog rings, who were kindly supplied to me by my super fast-engine builder, Bernard Baxter, as mine were quite worn and I assumed this was the problem. In the early afternoon we went out again and I quickly got into a rhythm. On my first attempt of a quick lap I followed Nils through Eau Rouge and when I tried to take it flat I gained so much on him that I didn't dare to follow him though the narrow path which is available at that speed. I cut Radillion and I realized I could have my fastest time stricken. I did lift as I wanted to pass Nils as soon as possible. The lap was 1:51.7 with cutting the corner. My next lap was much better and I got a 1:49.6 (hand clocked) with both Eau Rouge and Blanchimont flat. Especially in Eau Rouge the car was very well behaved. I set up for another quick lap but on the Kemmel straight I again couldn't select third. I reverted to my newly acquired technique of skipping 3rd. On the run after Pouhon I shifted back from 4th to 2nd and with a bang my drive was gone. I tried to select something else but there was nothing I could find. I coasted to a safe place and had to sit out the rest of the qualification. The result was that my best time indeed had been stricken and I was sixth. My best time was equal to Chris Stones time who was in fifth place. Only unfortunately there were two 2-liters between us. Tony my main rival for the third place in the championship was 4th.
|Class||1st Qualification||2nd Qualification|
|1||Hanno Hess||van Diemen RF88||B||2:49,199||2:45,739|
|2||Matthew Dean||Reynard SF88||B||2:46,409||2:46,048|
|3||Tony Walsh||Reynard FF 88||B||2:48,073||2:47,356|
|4||Jaap Blijleven||van Diemen RF88||B||2:52,736||2:48,159|
|5||Chris Stones||van Diemen RF85||B||2:54,164||2:49,771|
|6||Ed Waalewijn||van Diemen RF82||B||2:53,006||2:51,731|
|7||Alan Crocker||Ray FF71||C||2:54,614||2:52,993|
|8||Jan Steenhart||PRS RH 02||C||2:53,110||2:53,157|
|9||Chris Whittingham||Reynard FF88||B||—||2:53,247|
|10||Stephen Hagan||Crosslé 32F||C||2:55,756||2:53,893|
|11||Nils Leuber||Vaney 71/2||C||2:58,224||2:54,057|
|12||Johannes Kistler||van Diemen RF78||C||3:02,048||2:54,114|
|13||James Hagan||Crosslé 32F||C||2:54,331||2:55,800|
|14||Rebecca Dean||Reynard FF 88||B||2:55,951||2:55,407|
|15||Stephen Collyer||Dulon MP15 (Merlon)||C||2:57,440||2:55,998|
|16||Alan Williamson||van Diemen RF81||B||3:03,361||2:56,277|
|17||Paul Hubbard||Merlyn Mk 20||C||2:59,155||2:58,543|
|18||Povl Barfold||Titan Mk6||C||3:03,612||—|
|19||Günther Böhm||Swift HRC88||B||3:18,216||3:18,003|
|20||Paul McMorran||Crosslé 25F||C||—||—|
In the paddock luckily my mate Joost was there to help me and we established I had no 3rd and 4th. We opened up the gearbox and found quite a mess. The 3rd/4th selector fork had broken, 4th gear had split and 2nd was a couple of teeth short. The selector fork had been causing trouble the whole year. From the crack it could easily be seen that it had been cracked a long time before it finally broke. Luckily 4th gear split which prevented more damage. Bernard Baxter luckily had a selector fork with him and I got a second gear from Herbert Groeneveld and a 4th from Helmut Hess. In this way I could fix the car for the race.
I really looked forward to the race as I knew I was finally rid of the gearbox troubles. The start was just before the La Source hairpin. I got away cleanly and was in front of the 2-liter of .. In the hairpin I got a perfect line and passed Chris who overshot the corner. As I put my foot down for the downhill stretch it all started to go pear shaped. Hans Krahm in his Delta spun in front of me and I had no option but to brake. I managed to cut the speed dramatically and was bracing myself for a nudge. Then however I got a big bang from behind and my car was pushed over the Delta which's nose is quite like a ramp. Witnesses say I when over the roll bar and there is evidences on my floor plate that corroborates this chain of events. However I flew though the air and for a brief moment all I could see was sky. Then the car landed on it wheels again and I started to check the vital signs of my vehicle, while I was being passed by most of the field. After Eau Rouge I was sure that nothing had broken or fallen off so I picked up speed again and I passed Paul Hubbard. In Les Combes I passed Stephen Collyer (he says under yellow but I don't have any recollection of that). Here the race was stopped by a safety car period as apart from the debris I left at La Source Ole Vejlund had collided hard with Sylvian Haverland. For two laps we were behind the pace car, which is quite long to get the cars of the track. However I had a massive task ahead of me as I was quite far down the field. When we got going I picked off in random order Alan Williamson and Johannes Kistler. Then I passed Rebecca Dean. I got stuck behind Jan Steenhart who defended his place hard but when we both got on some oil I managed to outrun him up to Pouhon. I now had some gap in front of me and Nils was ahead of me. I wanted to get to him asap and I went into Blanchimont full trottle. I finished up a little wide and got on the green stuff at the exit. My car broke out violently and I spun hard while I pressed my foot on the brake, After the second spin I lost consciousness and I when I got to a stand still I checked the damage. Rear rocker bent so race over. The marshals were quite concerned with me and although I felt a little bit dizzy I was fine. This was confirmed in the medical center, where I was taken to. They were obviously out to get me this weekend and they finally got me.