The Main Race: Ours was the first race on the Sunday
morning at 9.45. This was not really bad as we, like a lot
of others, stayed at the des Bruyers pub/hotel a short drive
away from the circuit. And so having breakfasted at 7.30 we
arrived at the circuit for 8.30.
By 9.30 we had been ushered out of the Paddock up to the
F1 pit lane where we waited in grid order to go out onto the
Formed up on the track I then tried to figure out where the
lights were - not an easy proposition when you have 40+ mini's
in front of you! I knew there was a second bank of red/green
lights half-way back from the beginning of the grid on the
left and yes sure enough I had it spotted or so I thought.
The green flag lap was uneventful for most of us except for
Tim Sims 2nd position man, who was destined not to start the
race because his engine died half way round.
For the rest of however, we did not have to wait long once
formed up again on the grid for the red lights to come on.
I just caught sight of it as it flickered into life in a slightly
different position than I had expected! Nevertheless as soon
as it was green I shot forward and made for the bottom of
Eau Rouge along with the rest of the pack.
Ralph Saunders who is normally like a pocket rocket at the
start must have missed the lights as he suddenly came hurtling
up behind me, around me and then off into yonder pack!
The first lap at Spa is always a sight as we all jockey for
airspace up through Eau Rouge and down the long straight to
Les Combes the quick right left before Malmedy where I came
to painful grief last year.
On this occasion I was just about to turn in right at Les
Combes when from my inside comes a blue shooting star - Rupert
Hind comes up too fast to turn in loses it and slides from
right to left in front of me just as I turn in! Nice one Rupe
- lost one of my nine lives there I did. Quite how I never
got collected I shall never know - thanks to whoever up there
is looking out for me.
I was not to see Rupert again until several laps later when
he buried himself in the gravel at Pouhon.
On that first lap I was happily following the others through
Fagnes and into Stavelot when the yellows came out. What we
were about to find out was that Phil Harvey in a Miglia had
been unlucky enough to drop oil on the first right hander
through Stavelot. Ralph Saunders had been one of the first
Se7ens to meet the oil - unfortunately the pocket rocket ended
up embedded in the gravel trap!
Just before I reached Stavelot Chris Lewis in a Miglia came
past me - a bit surprising he must have had a problem elsewhere
on this the first lap. As I turned in to the right hander
I could feel the car slide on the oil but just kept the power
steady and drove through it. Catching up to Chris Lewis I
thought 'he's got to have an engine problem….' There was no
other reason why I was able to overtake him and carry on down
to The Bustop. Chris Lewis was to retire after completing
only one lap.
For the next six laps I continued to keep the pack in front
in sight but was never quite able to catch them up enough
to overtake. I came close a couple of times though.
On the final lap I had just crested Eau Rouge when the blue
flag was waved at me. As I glanced in my mirror I saw a profile
of a Miglia rise up over the top of Eau Rouge coming right
at me! It had to be the leaders…..yup I was being lapped by
a gaggle of front runners. Thank goodness they had caught
me up just beyond Eau Rouge - Miglias can easily be doing
130 mph through Eau Rouge versus around 100 mph for a Se7en.
Better not to mess with them!
Unfortunately the se7en in front of me was not so lucky and
was caught by the Miglias just as he was about to enter the
chicane at Les Combe. He was tapped into a spin, recovered
and lived to finish the race.
And so another years racing was over at Spa. For me finishing
in 14th meant championship points - this the first time I
have finished this high and in the points. It cann't be bad…………
roll on the next opportunity to visit Spa.