Spa Francorchamps European Round 2011 – John Owen
I was the new boy in the MCR team as we headed to Spa and I was very aware of just how big this challenge would be. Never raced a Sports 2000 car let alone an MCR, never even been to Spa, never raced on slicks, never raced a car with wings and spent the last six years or so in Formula Fords with just over 100 bhp and not much in the way of brakes, especially in the historic car. Oh yes I’d never been spied on by a data logger either.
So what was Spa like in an MCR?
My 30 minute practice session was very busy with lots of very quick F3 cars and a red flag as I tried to learn my way round. The look on my face probably said it all when I got back having fired the car through Eau Rouge at what felt like a ludicrous speed only to find that I still had loads of spare road. This was going to require some serious recalibration of my senses to cope with a roller coaster ride at well over 100mph and no rails.
Qualifying involved a minor incident with another car and a major moment in Eau Rouge but I was learning and really looking forward to the race. The weather looked to be drying after rain so on went the slicks and I headed down the pit lane for the
out lap. The far side of the track was completely dry and the sun was shining as I headed back to the grid. A rolling start meant that we all headed off behind the safety car and then the sky fell down all over the track and we all headed back into the pits for wet tyres. Lots of people fell on the car and it was soon on wet tyres with a wet set up and it was back out onto a soaked track.
A quick tyre change and wet set-up
Once again we set off behind the safety car and before we got to Eau Rouge there was a car spread out all over the track and we weaved between the bits.
Then the fun started. Outside line into La Source watching out for cars coming up the inside and then off down the hill to Eau Rouge when suddenly the car in front disappeared behind a wall of spray. It reappeared briefly as we headed out onto the Kemmel straight but I was soon in my own world again and worrying about what might be coming up behind me so I did the obvious thing when you can’t see and accelerated. The next problem was to spot the braking zone for the next corner. Slowly conditions improved and with other cars falling off I was up to sixth when the instrument panel started flashing unintelligible
messages and I slowed to make sense of them letting a car by while I struggled. Suddenly everything went back to normal so I started to chase again but to no avail as another accident led to a safety car and eventually a red flag so seventh and second in class was the final result.
I can now add slicks on a wet track and accelerating when I cannot see to my list of new experiences together with the knowledge that it’s going to take some time to learn how to get the best from the MCR so Patrick will not have to worry for quite some time. Thanks to all the guys at Turner Owen Motorsports and Clive & Cindy at MCR for all their support – I had an amazing weekend even if I did not get enough racing, and as for the data logging…. well Scott was very kind during our debrief.