For the annual European trip we decided to take the new car to the Sports 2000 & Sports Proto Cup meeting at the fabulous Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. It would be an interesting test of the revised cooling system and compare the performance to last years spec of car
Qualifying was all about trying out the new cooling system whilst using all of the 300 bhp the new car has on offer. We had also changed the front tyres to larger diameter ones. We also had reinstalled all the new extra aero parts meaning a significant increase in downforce.
Qualifying went well with the car performing really well in the fast sections and happily the new cooling system also worked with some minor adjustments to the oil side of the cooling. The car was also quick – really quick and we were on pole by over 3 seconds.
A dry start and other rolling start, this time being pitted against a Chevron B23 with a Cosworth BDG engine in second place so I expected some stiff competition in the run down to the La Source hairpin. A quick check in the mirror and I could see the massive field of 42 cars streaming out behind me as we gathered speed down the start finish straight.
The lights went to green and I nailed the throttle. The car shot forward and the massive torque of the new turbo engine gave me a nice lead into the first corner. I was cautious on the brakes which allowed Tom Stoten in the Gunn to catch up on the way out. This would give a real test of the new cars performance vs last years spec cars.
I made sure I was straightened out of the corner and nailed the throttle. To my slight surprise but absolute delight the car launched forward again and Tom disappeared in the rear view mirror as I roared down the hill to the Eau Rouge hairpin.
The rest of the race was spent getting to learn the capabilities of the car in the corners and braking zones, in particular the fast corners where the extra downforce is taking some getting used to given the resulting very high speeds.
Even after hitting oil and breaking the front splitter I was still able to maintain a reasonable pace
I crossed the line some 30 seconds in the lead. I great result for the team and some real signs of progress in the new car.
Races 2 was a wet start and again the car was really quick at the start giving me a big lead by the end of lap 1. The rest of the race was dry so it was a cast of managing the tyres and not overheating them as the track dried out completely. This meant driving some very strange lines but the overall speed advantage gave me enough of a gap to win the second race comfortably again.
A great weekend and some real improvements to the cars reliability and performance.