Round Races 8 & 9


22-24 July 2016

1st R1: Gary Culver 328 GTB / R2: Gary Culver 328 GTB
2nd R1: Vance Kearney 355 Challenge / R2: Jim Cartwright 328 GTB
3rd R1: Jim Cartwright 328GTB / R2: Pete Fisk 550 Maranello
report by William Moorwood
photography by Bev Burns

Spa Francorchamps is a truly fantastic circuit and the July race weekend organised by ADAC provided for some top quality Classic racing, but not all of it is perfect. The weather can be fickle and the pre-race briefing has over the years been a triumph of obscurification, and this year we had it in spades. The briefing was even more confusing than ususal, this would have been a problem if any of the classic racers and our invited guests had never raced at the circuit before, but we all knew what to do and where to go if we had the time. Frustratingly the briefing ended 15 minutes before we were due to go out on track for the first qualifying session. We had been warned in the briefing this could start early, and sure enough it did such that when the gates opened to enter the track there were just 4 cars ready and waiting! For the first qualifying session there were just 17 cars with 12 PFfc racers and 5 invited guests. Two of these ‘guests’ were Paul Ugo and Richard Fenny who had chosen not to enter their GT4’s but to run in 360 Challenge cars. In the first qualifying session Paul Ugo would head the times of the Invited Guests and Gary Culver would have the best time of the Classic racers. In the second qualifying session Walter Doerrenberg in his 458 Challenge would head the times with Gary Culver again the best of the Classic racers. 

Race 1

On Friday evening we had the traditional pre-race dinner organised by John and Anne Swift complete with a thunderstorm and heavy overnight rain. The outlook for the first race did not look good but the weather began to clear and the track to dry out in time for the race. In damp conditions Paul Ugo set a good slow pace allowing all the cars to be lined up on the pit straight to see the red lights go out at the start of the race. All successfully made it round the La Source hairpin and the exhilarating ride up through Eau Rouge and Radillon. Paul Daniels had the clutch fail in his 328GTB before the first lap ended. As would be expected the Invitation cars were much the quickest and Paul Ugo in his 360 Challenge and would lead for the first 3 laps. After problems in qualifying Peter Rowbottom, 458 Challenge and Nicky Paul-Barron, 430 Challenge, would start at the back of the grid but they made up a lot of time with Rowbottom taking the lead after 3 laps and Paul-Barron finishing in 3rd place. With his various car troubles at Donington well behind him Gary Culver was in top form all weekend easily leading the Classic race. Vance Kearney, 355 Challenge, was second and an unusually subdued Jim Cartwright was third. He later reported he was struggling with a poor brake balance. With the demise of Paul Daniels, Peter Everingham, 328GTB, was the only runner in Group 3 and he finished behind Myles Paulton in his Group 4 328GTB. Group 2 had no entries for the weekend and William Moorwood as the sole Group 1 entry had a lonely time at the back of the field.

Race 2

The second race was early on Sunday morning and again the weather did not look good, but by the time we were in the assembly area the track appeared to be close to being dry and our invited guests were all on slick tyres. Unlike the previous day the race was declared a ‘wet’ race and the pace car lead the cars round the track at a very cautious pace and we all hoped that the cars at the front would be able to get some heat into their tyres. Once the lights went out and the cars entered the La Source hairpin there were some immediate waved yellow flag as Nicky Paul–Barron had spun at the apex of the corner. Worse was to come as Richard Fenny went wide and coming back onto the track he made contact with Paul Daniels in his 328 GTB causing both cars to retire and bring out the safety car. The good news is that both drivers escaped unharmed. Very soon the yellow flags were out everywhere and the safety car took over for two full laps whilst the track was cleared. When the lights went out it was a 4 lap sprint on a still damp circuit. Peter Rowbottom and Paul Ugo would finish first and second of the invitation racers but would be joined on the podium by Gary Culver who finished third overall. This time round it was not as easy for Culver as Jim Cartwright would finish less than a second behind him. Pete Fisk had an impressive race weekend keeping his 550 safely on the track the whole time and in finishing 3rd in the Classic race. He was awarded the RnR Driver of the Weekend award. Peter Everingham who had also had a harmless spin on the first corner again won Group 3 and this time round finished narrowly ahead of Myles Paulton. Rob Pulleyn, 328 GTB, did well in the tricky conditions finishing ahead of David Edge in his 355 Challenge. Unlike 2015 which was hot and dry there was a complete contrast this year with uncertain conditions all the time only adding to the challenge of this unique circuit.

Bev Burns has proved to be our only source of photographs and we thank her very much for her pictures. She could only take a few trackside shots from La Source hence the lack of track shots this year.

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