Simon Davey reports
This year Monoposto again shared our grid space at Spa with the F3 Cup, and a strong entry for their Championship round, plus several visiting entries from French and Belgian drivers (most of whom had raced with us before) meant that the entry was fully subscribed. As is often the case with Spa we lost a couple just before the event when Terry Clark couldn’t sort the electronics on his new Classic 2000 Van Diemen and Leif Bosson had an engine let go at Cadwell.
However the assembling Monoposti made a pretty impressive sight, completely occupying centre stage in the Spa F1 pits, and the extra garage space which was made available after the Thursday test sessions was gratefully utilised. As ever event Organisers Roadbook provided an excellent Signing On centre, and most people were settled , Signed On and scrutineered before the end of Thursday. Scutineering was as idiosyncratic as in past years, but the only apparent hassle was that some competitors had failed to clock the warnings that BSI AFR stickered MSA helmets are no longer eligible at Spa, so there was a degree of helmet re-allocation going on.
As in the past Friday was the most hectic day of the weekend, with both qualifying sessions taking place during the day, which remained hot and dry throughout. Spa showed its teeth early on when the first session was red flagged after about 10 minutes; and it was Kevin Waring who had hit the wall on the outside of the super-fast Blanchimont, shearing everything away from the right hand side of the yellow Wingnut Racing car. He was carefully extracted and taken to hospital for a check, and thankfully was sufficiently OK to return to the circuit by the end of the day. At the end of the resumed session quickest Mono was the Jedi Mk6 of Dan Cook, followed by Chris Dittmann having a run out in Tony Bishop’s Mono 2000 Dallara, and the second Moto qualifier Dan Clowes. Peter Venn was next up, but his hopes of a strong Spa run were cruelly dashed when the Dallara’s Vauxhall let go and his weekend was over: it’s never a good sign when you can see the gudgeon pin down a spark plug hole…As many expected Jim Blockley headed the Classic 2000 times, but not by as big a margin as in the past, from Alistair Bell and Mike Hatton. Jim was also competing in the European Historic F3 races in his F3 screamer (as was Jim Timms) and it’s possible he was a bit distracted as a result. Having a throttle cable break as he left the pits at the start of the session didn’t help, although this was promptly sorted by AVIT. Andy Lancaster lead the Mono 1800 class having his first run at both Spa and in Mono in his unusual and smart Pilbeam, a marque more traditionally seen on the hills and in the World Sports Car racing paddocks. There was something of an upset in Mono 1600 as French driver Gislain Genecand headed the class in his very very effective Lola T340. Gislain was also doing the French Historic FF1600 race where he was a front-runner as well. Behind him was Conor Murphy in his very smart Marlboro liveried Van Diemen RF83 ahead of Geoff Fern who was already on his second cylinder head on the familiar Van Diemen RF89, and the car still couldn’t manage more than 3 laps.
Later in the day the second Qualifier was happily not darkened by any further major incident, and followed a similar pattern to Q1, with some significant variations. This time Jack Lang got his Jedi onto the Mono “pole” from Dan Clowes . Chris Dittmann again headed the Mono 2000s but this time ahead of Ben Cater and Kevin Mason. The Blockley steamroller gathered some pace to take the Classic 2000 pole, this time from Kevin Otway who had substituted the engine he blew at Thruxton. Andy Lancaster again held sway in Mono 1800 but this time he was pursued by Ewen Sergison who had taken over Greg Mills entry in his familiar Zetec Swift (which probably explains why the official results from the normally reliable Belgian timekeepers refer to a Pinto - asst ed). The premier grid place in Mono 1600 again went the way of Gislain Genecand, and this time Geoff Fern was almost at the bottom of the list having again failed to complete more than 3 laps.
After two hectic sessions almost every car in the Mono garage areas seemed to be undergoing some sort of intensive care, and it was amazing that come race day the only non-starters were the unfortunate Kevin Waring and Peter Venn, joined by Kevin O’Hara who has a terminal engine failure early on in his Leastone.
Race 1 – Saturday
The central story of Saturday’s race was the weather. Friday had been hot and bright with only the faintest hint of a sprinkle of rain on one occasion. Saturday looked iffy from breakfast time and when the time came for the field to leave the garages it was already seriously spitting, but not wet enough to make anyone change off their slicks. In true Spa fashion as the field weaved round on the lap to the grid it started to rain seriously and then the heavens opened onto the assembled field. Clerk of the Course David Scott declared a wet race, and a delayed start to give some time for teams to get onto the grid to change tyres. It was hectic and hard work for everyone, with very welcome assistance being provided by various marshals and watching team members from other events. After a sweaty 10 minutes everyone except Mike Hatton and Jim Timms had managed a change to wets, although there must have been many drivers with fogged up visors by this point, not to mention pit crew close to cardio-respiratory failure. By the time the field departed on its rolling start lap the track was completely wet so it was a bit of surprise when the promised two Safety Car laps didn’t happen and the lights went to green when the field came round for the first time.
It was hideously wet and slippery, the track having taken two days of oiling beforehand, and while most people were on wets very few had managed to also get wet suspension settings in place. It was really a matter of surviving rather than racing but Chris Dittmann showed his style by finishing 10 seconds ahead of the first Moto car, the Jedi of Dan Cook. Likewise Jeremy Timms produced a storming wet weather drive to take second slot in the Moto’s, while cousin Jason had a drive sprocket fail on his Speads. Dan Clowes took a careful 3rd in Moto ahead of Jack Lang who was struggling with handling on a dry set up. Dave Gillett took an excellent second in Mono 2000 on his first visit to Spa ahead of Malcolm Scott who was sharing his car with Oliver Sirrell. Jim Blockley took a dominant win in Mono Classic almost half a minute ahead of Alistair Bell, and Kevin Otway used his wet weather skill to get into a well deserved 3rd spot of the Classic podium. Behind Kevin Steve Palmer had a praiseworthy run into 4th in Classic in his Vauxhall Lotus; this was Steve’s second Mono race and his first time at Spa.
Andy Lancaster fulfilled his practice promise by winning Mono 1800 but George Fowler – who is something of a RainMeister – almost had him within reach at the end in his more conventional Van Diemen FF2000. However the order of things changed dramatically in Mono 1600 when the Team Fern Racing Van Diemen finally decided to run properly and Geoff Fern blitzed the class, also beating the Mono 1800s in the process. Conor Murphy did very well to beat Gislain Genecand for second in Mono 1600, especially since the Murphy Van Diemen had needed major work after qualifying, giving the team a pretty late evening on Friday.
At the unhappy end of the results the problems were mechanical, rather than accidental, and it is a credit to all the drivers that no accident damage seems to have been incurred. Mike Hatton and Jim Timms were perhaps the worst off with their races being curtailed by not being able to fit the right tyres in order to counter the Spa weather Gods.
Basically it then rained for the whole remaining weekend…(it was really nice here in Wolverhampton - asst ed)
Race 2 – Sunday
It was still wet on Sunday, but maybe starting to dry out just a little, with most people’s lap time maybe 10 seconds quicker than on Saturday and visibility that was at least workable. Dan Cook reversed the overall status from Race 1 and beat Chris Dittmann by 10 seconds, with Dave Gillett taking another excellent second in Mono 2000 ahead of Malcolm Scott – no wait – Oliver Sirrell in the familiar black Dallara. Jason Timms had an excellent run into second in Mono Moto ahead of Dan Clowes, and this time it was Jeremy Timms’s turn to be disappointed when his red Speads broke a drive shaft. Moto front runner Jack Lang was a casualty when he tangled with Robbie Watts F3 Cup Dallara in Blanchimont, the Dallara coming off worst after an encounter with the barriers. Jim Blockley did the double to take his second Classic win of the weekend but behind him the major news was a brilliant drive by Jennifer Sirrell in her Van Diemen to take second in Classic after a hotly contested race with the regular Classic front runners. Ewen Sergison got his Swift on song to take a strong win in Mono 1800 from Andy Lancaster and George Fowler. Geoff Fern’s Van Diemen continued to deliver the Mono 1600 goods, but this time the Lola of Gislain Genecand got somewhat closer until an ignition problem slowed the car. Eddie Guest took the third slot in his immaculate Lola, just reward for a persistent and consistent weekend of competition which included overcoming a holed radiator in qualifying.
So another Spa Summer Classic for Monoposto wound down into the race for the ferries, somewhat helped this year by an earlier finish on Sunday. It’s always an event to remember, both triumph and disasters. The field is so large, and so many things happen that it’s impossible to report all that should be mentioned – so if we have missed a key story, and misreported your adventures, please let us know!
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.
Simon said "Some sensible pics would be nice". We haven't got any, but thanks to Ewen for the 2 nearly sensible ones. Any others, please email email@example.com
Some rain, yesterday
Spa (Picture editor please see me -ed)