This isn’t a race report – it’s just a few comments which hope to convey the flavour of a very memorable and enjoyable weekend.
The Monoposto race had both sorts of classic Spa weather – torrential downpour on Saturday, beautiful day on Sunday. The organisers sensibly decided to run two laps at the start behind the Safety Car on the Saturday – which was the right decision as conditions were horrendous – but visibility was so bad many competitors in the mid to back field couldn’t see the start gantry lights or the SC Boards and thought the race had started after one Safety Car lap, leading to some hairy moments until everyone realised that the Safety Car was still at the front. As the race progressed the rain stopped and it got easier, but it was very impressive that there were no major accidents to curtail the race. The prior one hour saloon/GT race lasted 16 minutes and included two Safety Car sessions and two red flags before the Race Team called it off. On Sunday the weather was glorious. Thoughts during the race assembly lap - “it’s a beautiful morning, I’m at Spa on the best race track in the world, and I’m going motor racing…mmmmmm” - and the start was very clean, with Marc Fortune on the pole doing a great job to keep the field in order.
The Monoposto race had an interesting international flavour to it. The French Zetec contingent caused quite a bit of confusion when they decided they wanted to start at the back of grid in a group so that they could race with each other, at least for the initial laps. On both days the grid marshals struggled with this arrangement and several people who were late-ish onto the grid on Saturday ended up in the wrong place. The group of Danish competitors who all entered in Mono Classic were a very welcome addition to Monoposto and enjoyed their meeting, all competing successfully without major mishaps. John Frederiksen in particular distinguished himself by being very quick and brave in the wet. We hope they want to do more with us in future. From Ireland, Mono regular Paul Heavy went well in his Leastone, but his team mate John Downey had various problems on both days. The third Irish entry was Paul Dagg in MSV F3, with a very smart Dallara, but unfortunately the car dropped a valve in qualifying so that was that.
As usual there were hard-luck stories: Spa always seems to find any weakness in the car. The only major casualty was Steve Gibbins in Mono 1600. Steve is a Combe regular with a very well turned out Van Diemen RF00. Unfortunately in the dry Sunday race he was dicing with Jonathan Baggott when they collided going into the braking zone for the Bus Stop. Steve got launched into the wall, took 3 corners off the car and bruised his arm. Jonathan kept going after the shunt but was later penalised by Clerk of the Course Brian Poulter.
Talking of the Clerk of the Course; the Driver Briefings which were orchestrated by Senior CoC Alain Adam were extremely good, used clear visual aids with good supporting documentation, and were conducted in a large, quiet and well equipped briefing room. Also the snatch and recovery crews out on the circuit were very sharp – it was normal on the grid assembly lap to see recovery trucks retreating hell-for-leather with a race car in tow. (last year I was towed in myself by such a truck, and I’m sure it was the fastest I’d taken Blanchimont all weekend…)
Malcolm Scott didn’t get as far as official qualifying – on Thursday night he went into the village above La Source for dinner, climbed the circuit gate and fell off…damaged an ankle and was duly carted off to hospital to get it plastered up. Ollie Sirrell qualified and raced Malcolm’s Dallara instead.
Prajesh Shah had a frustrating time on his first visit to Spa, having newly gained his National A licence. After going well during unofficial practice, at the end of the day the engine developed a bad knock. This proved to be a big end bearing failure, and although Meyer Motorsport managed to obtain and fit some replacement shells in the hope it would be OK, it wasn’t to be.
Other bad luck stories were Jim Timms who had a conrod make an unwelcome appearance after one lap of unofficial practice, and Jeremy Goodman who hit the wall coming out of Turn 9 on the first lap of Qual 2, in the pouring rain, and took a front corner off the RT3. In the wet Saturday race Peter Bragg, running his smart Mono Classic Novis, collided with Jonathan Reed who ended up in the wall at La Source, Peter also incurring the displeasure of the CoC for this incident. Lenny Colman ran the bearings in his FVL, which he’d bought along because the Reynard isn’t yet fixed after overheating at Brands. Mark Harrison’s Mono 2000 Dallara had a crank pulley bolt come loose in qualifying, which was duly fixed; but it then lost its oil pressure in Race 1.
In the F3 race, which included the Mono 2000 contingent Jeremy Timms went extremely well in Richard Purcell’s second Mono 2000 car (currently driven very effectively in Championship races by Steve Patania) Jeremy broke his own Spa lap record by about a second and finished 8th & 9th overall in the F3 races. Ollie Sirrell did a great job in Malcolm “Hopalong” Scott’s car – the first time he had driven a Dallara, and Graham Read also went very well, although his races were spoilt by a minor tech problem on Saturday and a French “Chauffeur Dimanche” the next day. When the massed ranks of the F3 cars emerged from their garages for first qualifying on Friday, everyone in the pit lane certainly knew that a major competition was getting underway – a real ripple went round the onlookers. The 30 strong Austrian F3/FR contingent together with the MSV F3 Cup field and the Mono 2000s looked very impressive, which made Aaron’s Steele’s Sunday victory all the more notable. Kat Impey, Matt Draper, Chris Needham and Dave Karaskas also all went extremely well, with MSV F3 Cup and Monoposto cars occupying 6 of the first 9 finishing positions in the race.
And on a purely personal note – I’d like to thank Nigel Davers for a great weekend of competition – it just doesn’t get better than that…
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover.