Spa Francorchamps - 24th - 26th June 2016.

Race Report by Carl Chambers

Car 306 BTCC

Every year the Classic Sports Car Club has a special round at Spa Francorchamps in Belgian and for once we have been able to afford to go! Its been a dream of mine to be able to race at this great circuit and I have been wanting to go back there since PSCUK went there in 2005 on the 4 Nations tour. I didn’t get to see much of Spa that time as my 205 decided to break its alternator just as we got there so spent all the time fitting a new one. I did a good picture of it on Eau Rouge mind you where it decided not to go any further!

We thought we would make a weeks holiday out of the trip as a couple of others in the CSCC were doing the same and it would be good to meet up with them. Pete Parkin from the PSCUK was coming out on the Wednesday and would be staying with us, then Ed Pratt from PSCUK would come out on the Friday and staying nearby. We had found a really nice cottage in Francorchamps only 1 km from the track and this was very cheap. It would be a great base for the week!

First up was getting the car ready to be able to race. I chose to use the Rallye as its an easier car to get parts for if we did break anything while out there as most standard parts will fit if needed. I got as many parts together in boxes as possible and filled the rear of Dads 306 estate (support vehicle!). Pete was also bringing out his 306 GTi-6 so we had a full car to pinch spares off if needed..........!

As we were racing outside the UK it meant the car had to comply to FIA rules instead of MSA rules so a few changes had to be made, mostly silly little things but one big thing was the racing seat had to be within 5 years of its manufacturing date. For  MSA club racing the seats don’t have to be, my seat was sadly just out of date! Luckily Pete had just bought a new seat for his race car and was kind enough to let me borrow it!
As we were going all that way I though it best to get the car looked over by an FIA Scrutineer just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, he was happy so we were all good to go!

 We drove over without any issues at the port, they never even looked inside the van or trailer! It rained all the way to Spa, not just rain but really rained! About 20miles into France the drivers side front wheel bearing on the van started to whine probably due to all the water! And the poor little van struggle on the hills around Spa!
We got to our cottage to find it small but perfect and great for the money, though parking was tight for a van and trailer! The owner was happy to let us park on the grass, but being so wet the trailer made some really deep marks in it!

We met up that night with some other CSCC club members for a very nice meal. The next day we had a visit to a local Zoo again meeting with Lisa and Toby from the CSCC club. On the way back we stubbled across the Radisson Blu hotel and the Casino that we stayed at back in 2005 with the PSCUK tour! We had a walk around Spa and then went in search of some Shell V power as we were not allowed to take cans full of fuel across on the ferry, even though no one had checked the van! With the V power found we then stayed in Spa for a nice meal before making our way back to the cottage.

Pete joined us the next day and we went for a visit to the Spa car museum in Stavelot within the Abbey grounds. On the way back we stopped at Coo waterfall which was amazing, and after all the rain the amount of water coming over was unbelievable! We had some "interesting" food nearby, but the chips were good at least! Its was then back to the cottage to collect the van as we were now allowed access to the circuit and to claim our spot for the next few days!

After trying nearly every entrance possible it seemed the one furthest away was the only one that they would let us get into the paddock from! We got in to find a few CSCC members already there, so we found a place near to them and got parked up. But wow what a great circuit! Nothing in the UK comes even close! And its amazing how high the circuit climbs before coming back down again! With everything set up we left the car and trailer safely in the paddock, many other CSCC club members who were staying in the paddock to look after it, we then made our way back to the cottage. After few metres from the circuit and Pete had gone missing so we stopped to see where he had gone. When he caught up it seemed a Belgian fox had ran between dads 306 estate and right in front of Petes 306 GTi-6 which was now looking a bit sorry for itself! We checked the radiator was ok and still holding water and got it back to the cottage.
Next morning we got up early to go to the circuit for testing. It was very hot and at 8.00am it was already 29 degrees C! So we booked a 9.00 am track session as things were set to get even hotter later on! 180 Euros CASH only for 40 mins on track it wasn’t cheap but having never been round Spa it was worth every penny. What a great circuit, yes I have said that already but really if you get the chance then go! You wont be disappointed! Even better do a track day or race there if you can!
Poor Lisa and Toby only did 4 laps before their engine dropped a valve, but amazingly they had brought a spare engine with them for their Ford Puma, but not so good was they had to spend all day in what was now 32 degrees heat changing it.
I was so glad we had gone out early as Colin and Steve Simpson went out after lunch and came back so hot!
We sent the day exploring the circuit and the bar on top of the pit building, the view was fantastic as well as the drinks, what more could you want!
We got Scrutineered that afternoon and they were happy so we were ready to race!
We then went back to the cottage and tried to make Petes car look like a 306 again, it wasn’t too bad. The cooling fans were broken as was the grille, the bumper just needed putting back on its mounts and re-adjusted the bonnet you could hardly see it had been hit!

That night we had a meal within walking distance of the cottage, lucky we got there early as later on it was packed with many other racers doing the same! The food was very good hence why it was so busy!

Next morning they let us in the entrance that just 1km from our cottage rather than having to travel miles round to get in!
Lining up and the nerves set in! But still didn’t want to break the car or crash so took it fairly gently! Our race was the CSCC inter series cup so 3 races in one, the Future Classic, Modern Classic and Tin Tops series were all out together but all having our own races. This meant 60 cars on track at once, yes its a big track but that still means it was busy!

I qualified 19th out 52 cars that finished qualifying, and 2nd Tin top car. Not bad for first time here, Tom Mensley was 1st Tin Top car, he had been here the year before but the biggest thing was he had re-shell his Clio in the 2 weeks since it was written off at the Brands Hatch race. He had only just finished it the day before and arrived just in time to get scrutineered so to be fastest he was more than happy.
We stayed at the circuit most the day and again it was very hot, in the evening the CSCC had sorted out a BBQ for all the members and their crew so it was great to chill out at the circuit. Ed Pratt and his girl friend Louise had managed to get his 309 SR injection to Spa just in time for the food.
That night there was a fantastic thunder storm which did a great job of clearing the heat but it meant the circuit was now wet! Not what I wanted!

Race 1

The next day it was still very wet and lining up the nerves were once again going, we were about to race at Spa in the wet! And looking at the Lotus, Porsches Ferraris, Morgans, BMWs, etc around us on track you didnt want to hit anything!
It was a rolling start, lights went out and we were off racing at Spa! 
The first few laps were just trying to stay on the track and just not crash or bump any of these expensive cars, but being wet I found most were just holding me up! It was time to stop messing around, stop being star struck and get on with things!
Tom was being carefull with his car after just having rebuilt it, so he was the first person I passed. Then a Porsche 993 Cup RS lost it big time just before the Bus Stop chicane, bits of Porsche and tyre wall were everywhere so the safety car was brought out! Many people pitted under safety car which as always it was the wrong thing to do! Chase racing in a Clio and Moulton-smith in the BMW compact had made a great start early on but were now held in the pits so we passed them while they were stuck there! The safety car came in, so we then pitted and all went well, we were now out in 5th overall, and 1st Tin top car!
After chasing a Porsche 928, an M3 BMW and a Morgan for a few laps on a damp track, they had the legs on me in the long straights but on the twisty bits they were so slow so I caught them up again! Not wanting to do anything silly as I wasn’t really racing against them, though if there was a gap then Id be past! They were all having there own battle and not thinking of the little 306 trying to get past! Tom had been close behind most the time in his Clio but didn’t quite have enough to get past or wasn’t brave enough in the damp conditions. We ended 1st Tin Top car the first time racing at the track!
We then got to stand on the proper Grand Prix podium and spray the Champaign, where many champions have stood before! While they Played the national anthem too!

Results overall

1st N Olson,  Lotus Esprit S3  (Modern Classic) Fastest Lap 3:04.667
2nd M Wurr M , Morgan Plus 8 R (Future Classic) Fastest Lap 2:56.346
3rd Szymanski , BMW M3 Evo E36 (Modern Classic) Fastest Lap 2:57.928
4th M Chilton, Porsche 928 S4 (Future Classic) Fastest Lap 2:57.858
5th C Chambers, Peugeot 306 Rallye (Tin Tops) Fastest Lap 3:03.283
6th T Mensley, Renault Sport Clio 172 (Tin Tops) Fastest Lap 3:01.698
7th Broad, Porsche Boxster S (Modern Classic) Fastest Lap 3:05.192
8th Hutchins, Honda Civic Type R (Tin Tops) Fastest Lap 3:04.565
9th Simpson, Peugeot 206 RC (Tin Tops) Fastest Lap 3:04.594
10th Malone, BMW M3 E36 (Modern Classics) Fastest Lap 3:09.783

Results Tin Tops

1st C Chambers Peugeot 306 Rallye (Tin Tops) Fastest Lap 3:03.283
2nd T Mensley Renault Sport Clio 172 (Tin Tops) Fastest Lap 3:01.698
3rd Hutchins Honda Civic Type R (Tin Tops) Fastest Lap 3:04.565

That night we were back at the Steak house down the road from the cottage for some great food, it was very busy again, Ed, Louise and Pete were there along with Colin and Steve Simpson from the CSCC club.


Race 2

Next day was a late race so there was lots of waiting around, the weather was good and not crazy warm, but everyone kept saying rain was on the way! We all kept an eye on the sky in order to decide which tyres to go on! With race time getting close it was time to choose tyres, Lisa and Toby were sure it was going to rain but last minute they changed their mind and decided to go out on dry tyres, we were going to go on the Yokos as there was no sign of any rain.

We would start race 2 where we finished race one so this meant I was fifth on the grid with lots of very fast cars behind me which if it stayed dry they would be looking to try and pass me early on! Part of me wanted it to rain again so all the high powered cars would struggle, but that wasn’t looking likely!

It was a rolling start again, and I made a great start. Tom in the Clio right behind but over shot the first corner so this slowed him and everyone down behind him giving me a really nice gap!
I pushed hard for 5 laps and being dry it was great to get a proper feel for the track! I even tried taking Eau Rouge flat and yes you can do it, but it left you too far wide in the next few corners so I never tried again. It was also good to finally use the 6 speed gearbox that I had been carrying around for years and never ever getting into 6th! Well at Spa you can it into 6th easily!
Surprisingly after 6 laps none of the faster cars had caught me, left alone got passed, but the 4 cars in front were pulling away so I was in no mans land. Then its where the race started to get messed up, there was a broken down Porsche just after the Bus Stop chicane,  so this brought the safety car out.
People started pitting but I stayed out as yesterday they kept cars at the end of the pit lane so many people got held up, sadly for me today they didn’t do this so many cars now gained an advantage.
The safety came in and a few of the faster cars were now right behind me, and on the long straights were able to easily get past! We pitted that lap, Tom in his Clio came in right behind me.
Our stop went well, but Toms was ever so slightly better so he got out just ahead! As soon we rejoined the safety car was called out again because Chase racing in their Clio had a really big off in exactly the same place as the Porsche had done in race 1. Once again bits were everywhere, though the driver was ok. 
Tom was right ahead in the safety car train but we were following some very slow Porsche 924s, when the safety car lights went out they were just not keeping up with the train! Tom passed them both and a BMW M3 before the Bus stop chicane, but he wasn’t suppose to pass anything till he had crossed the start line! This gave him a few cars gap to me for a few laps, I pushed hard but there was an M3 getting in the way! Then the rain everyone said was coming finally arrived big time. Trouble was it was only on parts of the circuit, I passed the M3 and was on the rear bumper of to Clio lining him up for the pass! Just as I was about to pass him then the red flags came out! Gutted! The results were also taken from the lap before so left me further down than before.
But it was hammering it down around one half the circuit and it was deemed to be unsafe. By the time we got to the podium it was really hammering down everywhere! Then as soon as it started, it stopped again and the sun came back out, so at least we didn’t get wet spraying the Champaign.
It was a little disappointing not to get two wins for the first time at Spa but a 1st and a 2nd was pretty amazing!
The BMW M3 did protest Tom overtaking him before the start line after the safety car but nothing ever came of it and the results stood.


1st M Wurr, Morgan Plus 8 R (Future Classics) - Fastest Lap 2:51.150
2nd Szymanski, BMW M3 Evo E36 (Modern Classics) - Fastest Lap 2:47.182
3rd N Olson, Lotus Esprit S2 (Modern Classics) - Fastest Lap 2:57.040
4th M Chilton, Porsche 928 S4 (Future Classics)- Fastest Lap 2:52.395
5th T Mensley, Renault Sport Clio 172 (Tin Tops) - Fastest Lap 2:59.734
6th Goddard/Coyne, Ferrari 355 Stradale (Modern Classics) - Fastest Lap 2:57.350
7th Waddams/Davis, TVR Tuscan (Future Classics) - Fastest Lap 2:57.398
8th Maxted/Starkey, BMW M3 E36 (Modern Classics) - Fastest Lap 2:54.957
9th C Chambers, Peugeot 306 Rallye (Tin Tops) - Fastest Lap 2:58.320
10th D Griffin, BMW M3 E36 (Modern Classics) - Fastest Lap 2:57.610

Results Tin Tops

1st T Mensley, Renault Sport Clio 172  - Fastest Lap 2:59.734
2nd C Chambers, Peugeot 306 Rallye  - Fastest Lap 2:58.320
3rd Simpson/Simpson, Peugeot 206 RC  - Fastest Lap 2:59.453

After packing up the car and Marque etc we headed of for a meal in Spa with Ed and Pete.

Next morning Pete headed off early as he had to catch an earlier boat than us, we headed off late morning for the long trek home. Its was then I remembered the whining wheel bearing on the van! I had totally forgot about it with all the fun. We had to stop a few times on the way home to make sure the bearing didn’t get too hot, by the time it got to the boat it was singing away nicely but it had made it!
Once again we didn’t get checked at all going through customs, we must look like honest people!
Ed and Louise stayed on in Spa to enjoy a bit of a holiday.

It was a great trip and a fantastic result, many thanks to Pete, Ed and Louise for coming along. And not forgetting Mum, Dad and Jane.