Spa Francorchamps 29-31 May 2009


No free-practice this weekend - not even to ridicules prices. Saturday there were two qualifying sessions. The first one was early in the morning. As the weather was quite sunny I gathered the early session would be the fastest. I got down to do a quick lap. My car is now equipped with a data logging system and automatic lap times. That made my manual lap timer - a stopwatch - on the steering wheel obsolete. I did a couple of laps and I still had a feeling something was holding the car back. The timer on my dash however showed a 2:50, which astounded me as the previous lap was 2:59. The next lap a 2:58 so I was a bit puzzled but I didn't have long to ponder on that as when I came down to the finish line I missed a gear and all my drive had gone. That was game over and I parked my car next to Harald who lost his clutch. Good chance that the same thing happened to me.

I first found that the lap timing is not always right. Probably a beacon had changed. My time was a 2:53. Which wasn't so bad considering I only had done 4 laps. I set to work changing the clutch which was the problem. Luckily Reinier van der Veen came by with his daughter Vlasta and he helped me a lot. I also found what had been bugging me with the brakes. The master cylinders retainer plates were fitted the wrong-way round. After I had fitted a new clutch, I fixed that as well.

The car was well prepared now for the second qualification. Luckily there was plenty of time as this started at 17:30. The car felt much better. I had changed the set-up a little after the Nurburgring and it made the car better. In the first qualifying I had to little time to fully evaluate that. Still the car was not steady in Eau Rouge and Blanchimont. I couldn't take these flat. I had a little happening in qualifying as I overtook Peter McGill on Kemmel (see video). I managed a 2:51.0 which was a bit disappointing as my goal was a sub 2:50. My grid position was 6th what I was used in my old car. Anyway this was the first session in the RF88 which was trouble-free.

Correction 180 kph lawnmower

Part One of the race

Balance between front and rear ride height is supposed do a great deal to the cars handling. As I still wasn't fully happy with the rear the obvious thing was to lower the rear, but as that is a pig of a job in an 88 I decided to raise the front. That turned out to be a good choice for the race. At the start I had a decent start. I held my place but I got bogged down behind Harald to Eau Rouge. I tried to pass him on the outside but that was a bit over ambitious. Coming out of the corner I lost momentum and Rebecca Dean passed me together with another 2?litre. Tony missed his braking point at Rivage and ended up in the gravel.

In the second lap on the run to Blanchimont a 2?litre spun in a cloud of smoke and Paul McMorran kept his foot down opposed to me and Rebecca in front. He was able to pass me. It took me half a lap to regain my "rightful" position. I was still in striking distance to Chris Whitingham in third and Chris Stones and Rebecca following him. My car was much better due to the corrections I had made before. I could gradually close the gap as the group was battling for third.

In lap 7 I really closed the gap after doing a lap of 2:48.0. A new best time for me at Spa and more that 2 sec faster than my previous best in the RF82. On the run to Kemmel I passed Stones and outbraked Whitingham to be passed on braking by Stones. Rebecca was ahead and she almost lost it in Les Combes. Stones lost momentum as he had to avoid hitting her and I tried to take advantage of the moment. I missed second gear and instead of being at the front of the group for third, I was at the back as Whitingham took advantage of my mistake. Whitingham managed to Stones at Blanchimont and I got a run on Stones. At the chicane Whitingham out braked Rebecca and I out braked Stones. I was on the outside of Stones and Rebecca inside the chicane. As I tried to turn in Rebecca turned in in front of me. I could not brake and she clipped my nose. I went up in the air and I lost the nose of my car. I ended up and because I could not assess the damage I finished the race one lap short.

Part Two and end of my race

Class Laps Time Fastest lap Difference
1 Hanno Hess van Diemen RF88 B 9 25:13,805 2:45,902
2 Matthew Dean Reynard FF 88 B 9 25:14,159 2:45,579 0,35
3 Chris Stones van Diemen RF 88 B 9 25:46,608 2:49,190 32,8
4 Chris Whittingham Reynard FF88 B 9 25:53,691 2:49,626 39,9
5 Paul McMorran Crosslé 25F C 9 26:10,347 2:50,185 56,5
6 Markus Hahne van Diemen RF84 B 9 26:20,772 2:52,565 1:07,0
7 Peter McGill Crosslé 32F C 9 26:23,786 2:53,642 1:10,0
8 Jamesy Hagan Crosslé 32F C 9 26:24,344 2:52,688 1:10,5
9 Roel Mulder PRS RH02 C 9 26:24,449 2:51,963 1:10,6
10 Alan Williamson van Diemen RF81 B 9 26:31,340 2:52,738 1:17,5
11 Stephen Collyer Dulon MP15 (Merlon) C 9 26:43,761 2:55,617 1:30,0
12 Nils Leuber Vaney 71/2 C 9 26:44,110 2:54,452 1:30,3
13 James Hagan Crosslé 32F C 8 23:30,350 2:52,085 1L
14 Giovanni Romagnoli Nomad 78 C 8 25:15,530 3:02,979 1L
15 Rebecca Dean Reynard FF 88 B 7 20:04,276 2:48,494 2L
16 Ed Waalewijn van Diemen RF 88 B 7 20:04,666 2:48,059 2L
17 Povl Barfold Titan Mk6 C 5 24:08,061 3:03,863 4L
18 Alan Crocker Ray FF71 C 4 11:44,025 2:51,373 5L
19 Paul Hubbard Merlyn  Mk 20 C 3 12:31,848 3:01,882 6L
20 Tony Walsh Reynard FF 88 B 1 9L
Winner FF2000
Frank Nowak Reynard SF88 A 9 23:47,237 2:37,010