LMES - Spa-Francorchamps - Warm Up Report

An overcast morning and a damp track produced a quickest lap of 2:19.5 – from the pole-sitting Creation DBA. In fact the top four were in the same order as in qualifying, with the 8, 88 and 5 Audis second, third and fourth.

Fifth and sixth were the Rollcentre Dallara and the Pescarolo – these two still tied together on pace. The Lister was next up, despite a spin, the Vitaphone Saleen also spinning, this one in the entrance to the pitlane.

Good news from the Barron Connor team: the #62 has been repaired and has been out this morning. The chassis was bent in Mike Hezemans’ accident though, so the set-up of this car may be far from the ideal.

Not good news at Nasamax: an engine change after second qualifying was a planned change – “It was out of miles,” said John McNeil – but the warm up ‘off’ at the Pif Paf certainly wasn’t planned.

The team is awaiting the return of the car at the moment, but Werner Lupberger reports that “the back end snapped away from me. It hit the tyre wall very hard. Maybe I should have let it spin, instead of correcting it.”

Piers Masarati was a happier chappy this morning: “I was fastest in GT (in the Autorlando Porsche), on inters, so something good to write about at last.”

The #40 RSR TVR was second quickest in GT. Hugh Hayden didn’t send his Sebah Porsche out at all. “Why risk it? The drivers got another hour in bed.”

Phil Bennett is back from the Nurburgring, where the BMW he was driving lost a wheel and hit the barrier. His reward this morning? To be sent out on unscrubbed slicks in the GNM Saleen. He coped though – and was third quickest In GTS, behind the Larbre Ferraris. The Vitaphone Saleen will start from the back of the grid, reason unknown for the moment. Ah, fuel contamination; the scrutineers found a small amount of fuel left over after Imola.

More Nasamax news: “It’s superficial damage,” commented Kieron Salter – as the Nasamax mechanics piled into removing the r/front corner. “Everything failed the way it is supposed to: the bottom wishbone bent, the trackrod folded up too, and the wishbone mounting bracket failed – all of which means that the tub is intact. The nose box did its job too.”

Within ten minutes, the crew had the whole corner off the car and were working on removing the steering rack, which is quite a long job as it passes through the front of the tub.

Cirtek news: we sometimes have trouble finding members of this team, but have finally caught up with their practice and qualifying news.

Andrew Kirkaldy: “I should have been on pole, but on my best lap I managed to switch on the rev. limiter through Blanchimont, which slowed me down fairly quickly. I lost maybe half a second.” The Scot is expecting to start the race, drive a middle stint – and finish it too.”

Adam Jones: “Friday was a nightmare for us in the Porsche. We had a misfire that we thought was the plugs, but wasn’t. In the afternoon, Sascha got two laps in and then lost sixth gear. On Saturday morning, we went out on wets but it was really too dry for them, but not dry enough for slicks. Sascha was still fastest in class, but in the afternoon there was more frustration, because our lack of track time meant we were chasing a good set-up. The car is raceable though, and with the weather looking like it was at the ‘Ring, I’m hopeful of a good finish.”

The track dried out in the Sunday morning sunshine, and perhaps we’ll have a dry race.. ..or maybe not. Showers could occur throughout the race, we understand.

Today is Adam Sharpe’s 20th birthday. Will it be (birthday) points for the Racesports TVR again? Which teams in each class will earn the coveted Le Mans entries?

We caught up with Kazumichi Goh and Dindo Capello after the warm-up session.

Mr Goh: “It has been an extraordinary year. It is a little too early to confirm what we will be doing next season - but I am looking forward to coming back and racing in Europe again, with the Audi. I have had offers to run programmes in Japanese GTs, but I don’t want to do that.”

Dindo Capello: "I haven’t raced here at Spa since 1995. I was only here then to help out other drivers in the German Touring Car Championship – I can’t remember the result so that probably means it was awful!

"We’ve had a strange season – Le Mans was fantastic of course but in the LMES we have had some really bad luck at Monza, and particularly at Nurburgring. That cost us a lot of points, but then Silverstone was very good and the car now is as good as it has ever been.

"As for this race – the circuit is fantastic, one of the most beautiful in the world.

"The series has been very good this year: the grids, the teams, the racing, all have been excellent. The only disappointing thing has been the spectator numbers – they need to build that part of it and then we will have a wonderful series to go forward with.

And finally for now, Jean-Marc Gounon: "I’m enjoying the car but needed to have more track time – I have only done 11 or 12 laps so far."

Next year we expect to see more track time for the LMES cars - at the four or five races on the calendar. Four will definitely be at the same four circuits used this year.

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