The 2005 Spa meeting started off in damp conditions for the
first qualifying session. This was
my first outing in a race car since the Formula Vauxhall Lotus drive at
Donington in 2004. I spent the first couple of laps re-learning the circuit and
trying to identify all the set-up changes required for the Andy Yeomans' 1600cc
Formula Vauxhall Junior. The brake balance and suspension were considerably out,
causing the front left wheel to lockup and no apparent retardation from the rear
wheels. The car was oversteering in fast corners and fairly poor in medium speed
corners, with a severe vibration due to previously flatspotted tyres. I was
around 13th quickest overall from 24 cars, and 2nd quickest in class.
For the second session, we made
some suspension changes, including new (used) tyres, and went 14 seconds quicker in drying
conditions. The car felt much better, but still did not grip well in medium
corners, and continued to oversteer in fast corners. This was unsettling in
the fast Blanchimont and Eau Rouge corners as the car wanted to spin at 130mph all the time,
meaning I had to lift and hence lose speed. I felt there could be several more seconds in the car if we could sort
the rear handling.
The race started on Saturday morning in bright sunshine. We
did a green flag lap behind the safety car, which peeled off into the pits just
before the rolling start. I did not get a good start, and lost quite a few car
lengths to Jurgen 'The Red Baron' Dram in front of me by Eau Rouge. However, Jurgen was very
slow through Eau Rouge and I had to lift quickly to avoid running into him. His
2000cc engine gave him more grunt up the long hill to Les Combes and he caught
up with Geoff Fern in the 1600 Kent-engined Van Diemen Formula Ford by the top of the hill.
Jurgen harried Fern all the way to the Bus Stop, where he made an un-realistic
overtaking manoeuvre that ended up with him skating across the kerb into Fern and taking them
both out. I was only a few metres behind them, so I watched the accident unfold.
Fern eventually re-joined but lost a lot of time, while Jurgen retired with
front suspension and nose cone damage. I inherited
first place in my class from this incident and chased after Larry Jeram-Croft in
the quick ex-Robin Dawe FVL. Eventually a Jedi caught up with me and we had a
tussle for a few laps until he developed an electrical problem on the
penultimate lap. I pulled away
and then about 30 secs after this my battery expired, leaving me at the side of
the track with only half a lap to go. I was eventually classified as 2nd in
class, as I had lapped all the other finishers except Jonathon Baggot, who
inherited first place from me.