4 years in a row and blessed with great weather - Again!!
I think we are truly blessed with good weather when we go to Spa especially in September (notoriously unpredictable in these parts) for the Spa Six Hours race event.
However, there was a small snag in that some Belgians who have moved into the area don’t like the noise of Motor Racing, as they come from the city and spend their weekends in the Ardenne Forest. So they raised an injunction to temporarily stop all racing for the second most important race of the year for Spa. Luckily for us, the lawyers in Brussels quashed the injunction and racing was resumed and sense and jobs prevailed thank goodness.
The racing schedule for the weekend was:
Two portions of Testing on Thursday
Qualifying on Friday
Saturday – The Race!
This was a new scenario for me this year because, as you know Read Gomm is the new owner of my trusty XK150. So I, for the first time became the Co-Driver. This slot was usually taken by Chris Keith-Lucas of CKL Developments.
If you have been following this season’s antics (I mean progress), then you will know that Read has only had four races prior to Spa. In the true tradition of a car owner, Read has to start the race.
At this juncture, let me paint you a picture of Read`s situation:
Only four races under his belt since starting to race
One of the most technically difficult Formula 1 circuits in the world
75 cars in the race
A Rolling Start, never before experienced
75 cars going into a ‘Hairpin’ Bend off the Start Line
How would you feel?
I think the ‘Colour’ of the words above defines how Read must have felt!
Going back to Testing. It actually rained during these periods, so coming to terms with the circuit and the ‘Limits of Adhesion’ of the car, were not that easy. So when we went into Qualifying, which was only 30 minutes for 2 drivers both to try and set a fast Lap Time, turned into Mission Impossible, especially when it took place at 09:00 hrs and in dense fog. But we did manage to set a 3 Min 25 Sec lap time, in amongst all the other 74 cars trying to do the same. Luckily it was dry and Read was able to improve on his lap times. We qualified in 58th place out of 75.
Saturday dawned and there was bright blue sky and luckily our race took place at 10:45hrs and with a dry track.
With a very full tank of petrol, Read set off to the Assembly Area ably assisted by Steve, who was manning our Data Logging systems to help us to drive faster and more safely. The technology is supplied by www.race-technology.com for those of you who wanted to know!
As I was on the Pit Wall for the start, Read came round to be given his Grid Position and the cars duly set off for their formation lap. I don’t know who was the more nervous, Read or me as the Safety Car peeled off into the Pits as all 75 cars came round as the Lights turned to Green. I had my fingers crossed that all cars would make it safely through La Source, the first hairpin corner.
Read did a great job to get the car round for the first half of the race and improved his lap times by nearly 21 seconds over his Quali time. WOW! That was some improvement.
At that point, he came into the Pits for the change-over and I jumped into the car with Read shouting at me that the car was filling up with smoke. This was probably from a leaking Dipstick, ably assisted by a ‘Blowing’ Exhaust Manifold helping to vapourise the oil in an attempt to choke the driver of choice.
So we lowered both driver and passenger-side windows and I set off, very enthusiastically. Maybe a little too enthusiastically as there was a man with a “Speed Gun” at the end of the Pit Lane and my maximum allowed speed was 60 Km/hour and I think I was just over that??!!?? NOTE: I didn’t get a fine, or a Drive-Through Penalty (Phew!!)
Steve was also responsible for the Pit Board and the first time I came round he showed me ‘36’, which translated into 3 Mins 36 Secs which meant I was far too slow. What didn’t click was that was my ‘Out’ lap. Anyway, I thought I had better get a move on and proceeded to tank the car through Eau Rouge at about 110 mph! In a 1957 car! Am I mad? You can answer that question!! THANKS!
I set the fastest lap with a 3 Min 21 Sec and we managed to claw back a number of places. The oil fumes reminded me to keep an eye on Temps and Pressures as we needed to finish and in the points.
It was a great race and we did finish with a respectable 45th place out of 75 cars and:
4th in The Jaguar XK ‘C’ Class!!.....
This was a great five days away where we met many Jaguar owners and classic car enthusiasts who were keenly interested in the MWS product line. The brochures were flying off the stands for both Classic and Vintage.
We will be back racing in the UK on the 25th October at Mallory Park
Look out for us and the Motor Wheel Service Marquee in the Paddock.