Div3 Weekly Febr 9, 2006

R10 – Belgian GP

Scott Gelsthorpe was the winner of GBGPL Belgian Grand Prix held at Spa-Francorchamps. Starting from the pole position on the grid, Gelsthorpe's Lotus crossed the line 43.007s ahead of Tal Tsfany's Ferrari to take the win. Jani Posta's BRM rounded out the top three, finishing 1m07.672s behind Gelsthorpe.

Race Statistics

Results (9 laps)
1 Gelsthorpe, Lotus
2 Tsfany, Ferrari
3 Posta, BRM
4 Rubensson, Honda
5 Evans, Ferrari
6 Smith, Brabham
7 Westlund, Lotus
8 Vermeersch, Cooper
9 Croston, Lotus
10 Traynor, Brabham
11 Howlett, Eagle
12 Mirkovic, Eagle
13r Stenning, Ferrari

Pole position
Gelsthorpe, 3m19.595s

Fastest lap
Gelsthorpe, 3m19.841s

Full results
Point standings

Driver Quotes

Scott Gelsthorpe It was. I really enjoyed it even though it was a little eery being on my own. Just goes to show the imporatance of a nice clean start. Congratulations to those who chose some rather unorthodox (get the pun hey Magnus!) cars and managed to peddle them into very respectable finishing slots. Pete. What happened to you? I take it that you were involuntary disco'd? You had a weird 1st lap time of 51 secs or something. Christ knows what's going on.

Davor Mirkovic This was the first race which I didn't blew up after lap1. Had some fantastic battles with Leffa, Timo, Spiny, Iain. I lost 4 positions one lap before the end because of my mistake, but who cares. :)

Jonathan Evans A mixed race for me; I thoroughly enjoyed it overall, but it was marred by a massive rush of blood by me, that put Mark C and me out of third and fourth respectively.
I had an okay qualifying run, ending up in my familiar(ish) fourth spot. I then got away from the EauRouge trouble and found myself running in third. I promptly span it before the Masta straight, letting half the field through, so set about chasing down.
I had a wonderful lap or two with Jani in his BRM: I took him a couple of corners before the hairpin ducking out from his slipstream, only to stick it in the bales to let him back through. The next lap I took him again in exactly the same place, and this time made it stick.
I had a real flyer of a lap chasing down Iain and Mark, and caught Iain in time to take him at the same place as I'd passed Jani. But then got overexcited and tried to take Mark after the hairpin :o( EauRouge ran red...
So I was back down the field again.
But then, an incentive! Who's that on pribluda 10 secs ahead? A certain lardy white whale, driven by the prophet, Magnus. I got the bit between my teeth and chased hard. For the last two and a half laps, we were running one behind the other. I was sure I'd be able to pressure Magnus into making a mistake, but was very wary, too, of my error earlier with Mark.
But Magnus kept on flying: he kicked up dust on the two dangerous right handers at the back of the circuit, but managed to keep it going. I have to confess, I was grinning by now, knowing what he must have been thinking, and by the time we'd got through Masta on the last lap, I was laughing and urging him on. I can honestly say, I wanted him to bring it home now. It wouldn't have been right, after such a heroic drive (after all that brave bluster before as well!!) if he'd lunched it right at the end.
So an eventful outing to say the least. I fear I may have blown my chances of pipping Nick in the championship. I needed to steal more points off him here. But I had a lot of fun failing to put daylight between us.

Leffa Westlund This was one of my worst races. Nick and I touched and spun before turn one and that sat the level for me not one clean lap. I had some real good fights with Timo, Davor and Ian but I did to many mistakes and I am very pleased to come 7th

Niven 'Spiny' Howlett This is the first report I've contributed but it was such a great race I had to share. Piranha Racing Team bosses, Doug & Dinsdale, told me I shouldn't finish last at Spa so I was motivated to turn in a better performance.
This is a favorite track, my PB is pretty decent here, I like a Stella every now and then; so things were shaping up for a decent race.
Qualifying was pretty uneventful and I managed 10th on the grid with a 3:26. Disappointing but not tragic I thought. Dougie seemed pleased, but the start of the race was a disaster. Davor streaked ahead of me right from the off. Leffa & Nick tangled; Davor and Magnus knocked lumps off each other and I got stuck in it and down to 11th place. Just where you belong son; I imagined Dinsdale's words.
So back on the gas and after Davor. I'm catching, no I'm not, yes I am. I caught him at Masta. In a big way. He'd hit the armco, and sorry Davor, I couldn't avoid you. The hit allowed Nick and Magnus through. Great; 11th place and visions of the comfy chair treatment.
On lap 3 Timo and Leffa had a bit of a brush which let me through at Blanchimont. 9th, oooh.
On lap 4 I got past Iain after a spin at Malmedy. This was going way too well. I maintained 8th place until lap 7, Leffa was chasing me but I got a good run through Masta and pulled away a little and managed to catch Mark and; trying to pass at La Carriere, was going way too fast, made a dogs dinner of it and spun. Must have looked hilarious in your mirrors Mark! My gyrating bounced me off the fence into Iain's way - sorry mate. And I blocked Leffa big time - many apologies for that rookie error!
Bottle well and truly lost I slipped and slithered to an 11th place and hitched a ride back home to avoid getting nailed to the transporter's coffee table.
Not a great result but I had a blast. I'd hoped for better since my pb at Spa is 3:19 and a bit but, hey, I'm still learning. Thanks everyone for your patience and I'll be looking for better things next season - or so Doug and Dinsdale tell me.

Peter Stenning Wierd things as far as I was concerned, I some how got throught the Eau Rouge lap 1 curfuffle completly unscathed the only thing that did go right. After that I had unexplained off s as thought my car was not where I should have been in the end the hairpin straw become the last straw so to speak and I discod. Crap race crap night glad its over now lets get to Donnington whole new ball game.

Jani Posta I was pleased with my (one lap) qualifying time and took the awaited 9th place on grid. I was afraid of something terrible at Eau Rouge so I started cautiously - that could not help as I was hit by Nick's flying Braby and also by the wall. Much to my surprise the car did not suffered any damage :) In the first laps I was battleing with Jonathan - though he was faster so soon left me alone. After the guys messed up things ahead of me in Eau Rouge (again) it was a clean race for me - I just had to hold Magnus in 7-10s distance. This podium finish was absolutely not expected, so I'm really happy with the result :) Congrats to your maiden win Scott! This was your race ;) Now I'm looking forward to Donington - in my SPR Brabham again.

Nick Smith That's one race I'd like to forget. I can't believe I didn't even make it into T1 before the collisions. To clarify - I believe I was on-line and not cutting into the middle of the track; having watched the replay, Leif's car seems to twist to the left, probably under hard accelerating, and clipped the rear of my car (looks like just an unlucky clip, after watching the replay). Into the Eau Rouge bridge wall, down to 3 wheels.
That coloured the rest of my race - I was gonna disco there and then, and probably should've. As it was, I spent the rest of the race doing all the things you shouldn't do to enjoy Spa. But following Magnus in his Honda was a pleasure - good drive, mate. I managed a decent pass before Masta after picking up a tow, then went into Masta completely sideways - don't know how I didn't clip the Armco there!
Anyway, Donington next, then Mosport - yey, the tight and twiddlies! The antithesis of Spa :)

Magnus Rubensson
(Click here to view 'Book of (La) Source' in JPG or PDF.)

Timo Vermeersch Should race-tracks be identified as movie-characters, Spa would, no doubt on it, be personified by Hannibal Lecter. At first sight civilized, educated, helpful, "he thought these family shares would help him …" But appearances may deceive … Slapping those driving it friendly on the shoulder, comforting them: "You're doing fine. You're in control. Be confident, go faster, all will be fine." Tricking a drivers concentration into slipping just that one inch. And upon the second it does, grabbing him by the scruff of the neck and smacking him against a hedge, a wall, a farmhouse, whatever's standing next to the track. Preferably in one of those well over 200 kph-sweeps. Then, as the driver sees the big bang inevitably approaching, as he realizes he has been fooled again, just as the lights go out once more, it rears it's ugly smile as if to say: "Gotcha." (On a side-note: I've always been more of a Rip Curl- man myself.)
Still, I like this track, a lot. One good lap of Spa is sheer greatness. It builds up. Through Eau Rouge, hauling the car up Kermel direction Les Combes. Passed Burnenville, so fast and yet so gentle when you get it right. As if the track is working with you, keeping you balanced. Sheer magic as I shift back to fourth and the track seems to completely fall away through the first right of Malmedy. Feels like sliding the car over a cliff into the unknown. But the track catches you straight back. Almost like a tender father. Onto Masta straight. Faster and faster yet. The engine screaming, almost running out of breath. Masta kink. Provided you get it right, the exit is magnificent. As if you're sucked onto the racing line. And it swells further down Holowell straight. Through Holowell and Stavelot-sweeps. Almost feels like Burnenville all over again. The banked curves of a super-speedway come to mind. So blindingly fast. Through two left kinks, onto La Carrière. Steaming passed a couple of farms into Blanchimont. One hardly brakes. And again you get this feeling of a driving a super-speedway bar the banked turns and taking into account that it actually steers both left and right.
All the way from Burnenville, the track grows and grows and grows on the driver. And then, as it almost feels you can't be going any faster, that you're about to access the ultimate glory of fast motoring, it suddenly almost drops dead in the perfect anti-climax of La Source. Instantly you have to reinvent braking hard down to an almost stand-still. Back to first gear for a hairpin so slow, it looks almost out of place on this ultimate glorification of speed. It's like Beethoven's ninth symphony swelling and swelling and suddenly reverting to "piano". It's like Hitchcock's camera approaching that gentle figure standing in a shower, the music growing and increasing … the sudden telephone call sucking all the tension away.
One good lap of Spa is sheer greatness.
It could be asked: are the results of a race, of a practice session even relevant when driving on such a track? Isn't the mere privilege of driving such a track, the privilege of having a taste of its greatness, sufficient? It's a valid question and the answer may well be affirmative, but then again, we came here to drive a race. So a race we drove.
A 3.27.5 in practice puts me second last on the grid. Not brilliant, but anything better then last feels OK in the Coop on this speed track. (I heard Honda-drives whisper about 319 kph down Masta- straight. That's out of reach in the Coop, way out of reach.) And 3.27.5 is a PB, so all in all satisfied.
Eau Rouge is a bummer the first time around. Can't avoid Nick's Brab when it seems to switch back from invisible mode, and suddenly stands in front of me. Mechanics come storming on the scene to get the Coop going again. And there's more mayhem at Masta on lap 1. I manage to avoid that. More spinning cars in La Carrière in lap 2 and I'm gaining places, climbing in the rankings. Where will it end?
Pete's Ferrari then points it's nose in my mirrors. The Fezza outruns me on Masta and there's not much point in trying to resist. The Maserati in the back seems to respectful for its big brother. Pete goes by but I seem to be able to keep within striking distance by having better exits out of Stavelot and La Carrière. Through Blanchimont the gap grows however. Until Pete is suddenly standing in a hay ball at La Source. I go by and Pete calls it a day.
People are coming back from behind. Loti and Eagles mainly. I can only guess who the drivers are. Somewhere on lap 3, a Lotus, I think Leffa, and myself try to make it side by side through Holowell. We touch. The Coop transforms itself into a spitfire and rises, rises in the air. As by miracle, my mechanics appear out of nowhere and get the car in running condition again. Don't know whether I steered in to early or not. If so, sincere apologies to the Lotus-driver.
From there on, my race settles down a bit. I still have one great off at Holowell where my mechanics rush to safe me again, but all by all it settles down. Some clean laps with Eagles running in my were- bouts. Nice and clean.
In lap 8 I get a massive scare when I come out of La Carrière. A car is riding on the grassed banks sidelining the track and I don't see it until almost on its gearbox. The Eagle, I think it was, gentlemanly keeps the track clear and I blast by. On the same lap, at La Source, Leffa's Lotus stands sideways with its rear against a hay ball. I go by. Leffa immediately resumes the hunt. Oh well, I strengthen myself, it's only one lap. I'll be able to keep him off for that one lap. Sadly however, one lap of Spa equals 3 or 4 laps of a regular track. I have a bad exit out of La Carrière. Leffa has the momentum and rightfully uses it to go by on the run to Blanchimont.
That's that: 8th at the finish. Pretty pleased with that. Managed to finish in front of a bunch of fast Eagles, bettered my PB with over 3 seconds, I tend to call it a fructuous event in all aspects.
After the race, I took the all-new Cooper mountain-bike prototype for a drive in the Ardennes woods. (It appears that the team finances are in bad shape and management is exploring different ways to improve this.) With the howling and screaming engines gone, an almost solemn silence had returned to the woods. The forests seemed vaster than ever before. Through the silence, out of the darkest deepness of the forests, where the holy water springs its way into the world of mankind, came an almost unnoticeable whispering voice: "Tell me, Clarice – have the lambs stopped screaming?"...

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