There are many more Spa pictures in our 'Racing at Spa' section, but these pictures are from a much earlier track day trip.
Sept '02 The crowd goes wild as we thunder down from La Source, building up speed for the famous Eau Rouge corner, the chasing pack no where to be seen...well one can dream. Thanks to Mark Collins for the picture.
I visited Spa in September '02 when I attended a track day run by the German 7's club, who had advertised on Blatchat. It is a track I have always wanted to go to, either to watch the GP or to drive. The German track day was, it has to be said, almost half the price of a UK track day at Spa - why??
Myself and a friend from work drove to Spa the previous evening, arriving at a small Hotel in Francorchamps in the early hours. It was a wet but easy trip. The next day was also wet - which was daunting for my first time at Spa, though maybe it helps slow you down a bit for the first few laps and prevent you from getting too confident too quickly! Despite the fact that it was the German 7's club, there were only about 4 other Caterhams. The rest of the cars were a mixture of Elises, Exige and mainly Donkervoorts- at least I think thats what they were. Very wide, huge rear tires, and lots of power from there big Ford engines. Worryingly small rollbars though.
The day was run excellently, and included in the price of about £100 was a three course hot buffet served up in one of the pit garages.
A week later Tessa and I returned to Spa. It was half term for Tessa, and I had just been made redundant, so we had the time, and a plan. We turned up at a Book-a-track day (where Mark took the pictures shown above) and caught up with some friends. We managed to pay a small fee so that we could spend just half and hour on the track (again wet) and then we set off to the Nordscleife, about 1½ hours drive away in the Eifel mountains of Germany. Here we managed a few laps, so we can say we have driven two of the most famous, amazing tracks in the world in one day!!
Another picture from Mark shows us dwarfed by Eau Rouge. The new tarmac on the left makes the corner look much bigger than it is - from the car it looks much steeper, and the kerbs look much closer!
There follows some stills from a bullet cam and camcorder that we had on this these track days - apologies for the quality of the images. I cannot post video clips on this website - when I find somewhere to do so I shall!
Entering La Source, this Exige is about to undertake both of us. The brake light on the 7'esque car in front is very effective - even if the chrome roll bar is less so, being 2" below the occupants heads!
Storming down to Eau Rouge - that brake strip indicates that this car is braking very early for Eau Rouge - very frustrating, as we were not braking, but would have to lift when we reached him, losing all momentum!
The famous Stavelot corner. The thought of passing that farm house on the limit with no barrier between track and wall, as they did in 'the good 'ol days' is awe inspiring!
A complete lap taken from our bullet cam, mounted on the roll bar.
Bus Stop Chicane - This was a wet track, but a drying line was appearing. We had been behind this car for about 2 laps already, and he was holding us up! The frustrating thing was that he had more power than us, so lost us on the straight, but in the corners and under braking we were much quicker. He knew we were there, but certainly was not going to let us through! Eau Rouge was most frustrating. Its a long lap and this is a highlight corner. He would shoot off down the hill past the pits, but then brake in the corner. This meant we caught up and usually had to lift up the hill. Very frustrating, but all part of the fun - we had to get past (or drop back of course, but come on...!)
Le Raidillon - We felt under powered here, the car slowing near the top of the steep slope, so a lift lost us all momentum. From this point on the yellow menace would shoot off into the distance. As you can see he is a dot on the Kemel Straight. This is far more uphill than it looks on the TV, and our car lost out here - it was on this straight I decided that I needed more power and would have to upgrade things! Even accounting for the pendulum affect of braking/accelerating, we closed up alot under braking into Les Combes, which was satisfying! The track here was damp, a little slippery, but this bit must be dryish, or I would not have been so close to the slippery painted kerbs! I was treating this track with respect - we were a long way from home, so I was not kissing apexes on the limit, particularly as it was wet!
Passing a slower car into Malmedy - unusually this car had indicated and waved us through! Although wet/damp the track was pretty progressive here with no nasty surprises, unlike the next couple which were always greasy! This was my chance down into Rivage 1. I knew I was braking much deeper into corners, and this downhill right was my best chance to past. Now I know that its a slightly dodgy move, but we had been behind for a few laps, knew what we were going to do, and gave plenty or warning as to our intention - honest! So through we slipped. We entered Rivage 1 a little quicker than I would of liked perhaps (!) but no drama, a little correction and we were off on our way.....