Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Spa Francorchamps - Track Day Weekend

Charlotte was extremely generous for my 40th birthday, and bought me a Book-a-Track Platinum membership for this year... So rather than waste a 'free' opportunity to go to Spa Francorchamps for two days, I jumped at the chance.

The BaT Platinum membership (whilst very expensive) is very good too, guaranteed free access to every one of their track days for the year, free garage reservations, and pics too!

I headed off on Saturday around 10:30am and some 350 miles later arrived about 7pm at Spa.
Circuit De Spa Francorchamps Paddock Entry Sign
Circuit De Spa Francorchamps Paddock Entry Sign
The first thing (after parking the van up) was to go and check out Eau-Rouge... Wow - for those of you that haven't been there before, it's soooo steep and the TV / video footage simply doesn't do itjustice...  A couple of beers were consumed looking at Eau-Rouge and then it was time to go to sleep.
My first sight of Eau Rouge - much steeper than I thought it would be, oooohhhh exciting!
My first sight of Eau Rouge - much steeper than I thought it would be, oooohhhh exciting!
Naturally; all excited - I woke up pretty early on the Sunday morning☺ got to the paddock, parked up and got the car into the garage.  We were given numbers for the front (and back of our cars) - mine was 31 which lined up pretty well with the new rear boot stripes
Number 31 - lined up nicely with the new boot stripes :-)
Number 31 - lined up nicely with the new boot stripes :-)
I went out for a few laps, and instantly I could tell the bead seat I made recently wasn't quite right... In actual fact it was miles too big, and gave me real bad cramp...  The only option was to take a good 5cm off the back of it, and without a hack-saw in sight - I found a team (Matt Blyth Motorsport) with a saw, and cut two inches off the back of it!  A fellow 'racer' took great pleasure in capturing the moment in it's gruesome reality.  
'Modifying' my bead seat
'Modifying' my bead seat
Matt showed me what a 'professionally finished' beat seat looked like, and I don't think I'll ever be able to achieve something like that... What I will take from this, is... When it comes to making a bead seat - don't try and do it yourself, it's a waste of time and money - end of.

Bead seat "adjusted", I managed to get a reasonably comfortable position, put the visor down and went about trying to get a decent lap time in.
Time for business
Time for business
With Spa being such a long circuit, it took some time to get used to the track, braking points and the massive elevation changes too, but towards the end of the first day I managed to get in a 3.01.27 which I 'think' is pretty respectable...

I met up with another couple 'Chris and Andy'... Chris is racing in this years Supersport championship AND has a camper van, so we had a few beers in the evening talking campers, cars, racing and everything and anything else... It was a good night, and I'm sure we'll be seeing each other more over the course of this year as our race weekends begin to join one another.

Monday morning was a bit of a struggle to get out of bed, but I 'forced' myself ☺and was back in the paddock for 8am.  The day consisted of more of the same, but I intended to leave around 3pm to get home at a reasonable hour, so didn't manage to go any quicker than I did on the Sunday... There were a few laps where I may well have gone quicker, but were ruined due to traffic, but there you go...

I did manage to keep a 620R honest (in the braking / corners) but it was a 'fair bit' quicker down the straights!

Over the weekend there was some amazing machinery at the circuit, from two Caterham Academy cars ☺, all the way up to (what I think was the most expensive there) a Ferrari 458 Speciale... Which although most of which were passing me at pretty high speed, they were very nice to see.
How good is Spa?  Definitely as many thumbs up as possible - it's probably the greatest race track of all
How good is Spa?  Definitely as many thumbs up as possible - it's probably the greatest race track of all
So with a good couple of hundreds of pounds worth of petrol obliterated into the atmosphere, and a massive grin on my face it was sadly time to pack up and head home.
All packed up and ready for the long trip home
All packed up and ready for the long trip home
The weekend was without doubt one of the best of my life... Spa Francorchamps is an utterly amazing circuit to drive, the other drivers were a great bunch, the weather was fabulous and the venue was just awesome... It's just a shame it's such a trek away!  

Next to do is to fit the Academy Sponsorship Decals (which I should be able to fit tonight) as it all needs to be ready for the first 'test day' at Castle Combe this coming Friday...  This year is definitely going to be jam packed full of action and adventure, and I cannot wait...  

Thoughts on the Caterham Academy so far - superb... And we haven't even started 'racing' yet.

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