After the 80 minute endurance race that was round 2, the following week saw round 3 still at Spa but this time for 2 30 minute sprints in the wet. With another 50 minute race at Spa coming up with the ESR crew I’d done a lot of mileage at the track over the last 2 weeks. While I wasn’t especially confident of a strong result I didn’t think I’d make a fool of myself either. After a mid week wobble when I nearly didn’t take part I set aside a couple of evenings for some wet practice and found that I wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.
For the first race I started in 14th of 18. I actually failed to set a time which was disappointing as I knew I had the speed to start a few places higher up. As the pack headed up Eau Rouge, 2 cars touched slightly with one spinning off the track and the other speeding off down the road. The spinning car caused a chain reaction that took out a few other cars and as I crested the hill at Raidillon I found a few cars scattered across the track and hit poor ajax30za head on. Luckily, I only did light damage to my car and got it turned around quickly. I set off, now abut 10s behind R80-Reilly in 12th.
By the end of the 1st lap the gap was 10s and I started to think I was in for another lonely race. By the end of the following lap I had the gap down a bit and was pleased to see my lap times was almost 2s quicker. Exiting no name corner I came across MrFreggel who must have had an off. He crashed at Blachimont, promoting me to 11th and now I could see R80-Reilly only 4.6s in front. Full of enthusiasm I put my foot down and continued to close the gap until , like MrFreggel on the previous lap I slipped on the wet run off at No Name corner and hit the Armco, causing severe damage to the car. Unable to steer, I ‘teleported’ to the pits where the car was repaired.
I returned to action, now a lap down in 14th with a gap of 5.5s to MRC_Dan_Gleeball who was still on the lead lap. By the end of the lap I had the gap down to 2s. I caught him as we entered Les Combes and on the run down to Bruxelles he kindly let me through and I set about catching Crashtor_maldona who was 54s in front, separated by a few cars who were still on the lead lap.
With a repaired car, I set my fastest lap of the race – 2:33.366 and then went faster again 2:33.117 on lap 6 with the gap reduced by 4s. With 7 minutes to go, some drivers started to have connection issues and the field started to reduce, dropping from 16 to 9 in one lap. This was good news for me as it promoted me to 7th although I didn’t;t feel it was fairly achieved at all.
Throughout the race I struggled with tire temperatures on a wet but warm track. I’d not experienced it as much in the practice sessions and was glad that other drivers were also struggling with the same problem.
For race 2, I did set a qualifying lap and started a slightly better 12 out of 15. This time it was a clean start and I made it to the top of Raidillon without incident and still in P12. Crashtor_maldona tried to take the position off me at Les Combes but was unable to and he soon dropped away while I tried to catch blacky306mi. I had the gap down to less than 1s by No Name where MrDidus did what I’d done in the previous race and damaged his car on the slippery run off.
As we crossed the line, the gap to blacky3o6mi was just less than 1s. I closed the gap down the Kemmel straight and attempted a pass at Les Combes. I went to deep and he took the place back, also allowing Pior00n1985 through in his Ferrari. They pulled out a bit of gap by the end of the lap, with blacky306mi in P10 being 2s in front of me. I had a good run up the hill and had the gap down to 1.1s by Les Combes, also making up a position when B__Rated hit the wall at Raidillon. I had a heart stopping moment at No Name when I thought I was going to hit the wall too but I managed to hold it, more than blacky306mi and Pior00n1985 did as the collided and I sailed through into 9th with ajax30za visible 4s in front.
I took a lot of time out of him over the lap (setting my fastest race lap of 2:32.343 on lap 4) and as I entered La Source, the gap was down to 1.6s and I had caught him by Les Combes. I stayed close to him, looking for a place to pass and the chance presented itself on the following lap when he made an error, running wide at Malmedy and I was able to take the position.
At Campus, I got was caught out on the slippery kerb and had a moment, allowing ajax30za and B__Rated through at Stavelot, dropping me down to P10. I chased them both until B__Rated slipped off at No Name on lap 7 and I made an error at Les Fagnes, which took me a while to recover. Luckily I’d done no damage but was back in P11 of 13, 6s behind blacky306mi. I moved up to 10th when ajax30za ran wide again at Les Combes and then passed MRC_Dan_Gleeball on the run down to Pouhon for P9. With 30s left on the clock and on what would be the penultimate lap I did what I’d been trying to do all race and passed blacky306mi on the run to Pouhon after he made an error. I was able to pull away from him and finished P8 after another driver left the race.
I was pleased to have completed the second race with damaging the car. This was down to two factors I thought:
- I’m more consistent and a better driver when I’m chasing someone
- I made a decision to prioritise staying on rather than speed, especially at No Name which caught so many other drivers out
Throughout the race I struggled with tire temperatures on a wet but warm track. I’d not experienced it as much in the practice sessions and was glad that other drivers were also struggling with the same problem. Overall, I think this affected the cars handling rather than any outright speed and my best lap of 2:32 was still pretty good for me.
During the evenings races, my scores took a bit of hit with my SA finishing at 59/99 (up slightly) but my CC down at 55/99 and CN at 66/90. A few dry races should get those back up. I was happy with both results and although the 1st one wasn’t earned on track it’s still a good haul of points for the championship.
Next week we’re at Zolder for 2 sprint races which I’m looking forward to. Zolder is a fun, fast track with a lot of heavy braking zones so should be a good track for the AMG which seems to do well in those conditions.