2003 Miles of Spa – Qualifying Report
dsc Team 86 Polo – Dream Over

“I'm afraid the dream is over: the engine called it quits after this afternoon's final qualifying session. A broken valve dropped into the engine and that was it,” says a very despondent Bob Winter.

“All in all it has been a weekend to forget, because, other than that we were part of the very first edition of the Spa 2003 Miles, there was little to celebrate.

“In Thursday's afternoon free practice session everything worked perfectly and Marc Van Hoof set a 3minute-flat time which made us fastest in class by some ten seconds.

When I started the first qualifying session later that afternoon, and found it difficult to get away from the pitlane. I thought the engine was cold, but going up the pitlane (in Spa, the "old" endurance pitlane exits on top of the Eau Rouge swoop, which means you have a 25% hill climb to get up) the engine cut out completely. It's rather silly when you're stopped halfway up a pitlane exit and other cars are queuing behind you. I managed to let myself "slide" back to the bottom (i.e. the end of the actual pitlane where the garages end) where the mechanics looked at the engine, declared it okay, and sent me back out again. This time I managed to get up the hill but only just. Down the straight to Les Combes I noticed what the problem was: I hadn't selected first gear as I thought, but third because the gear selector had broken. As a matter of fact, I was stuck with just third and fourth gear, so that put paid to the first qualifying session.

“The second and third qualifying sessions (both held at night) actually worked well. We concentrated on setting up the car, adjusting the lights and so on, and getting used to driving around Spa at night. Our times (a 3m10s897 in the first night session and a 3m10s736 in the second) were right up with the rest of our class, being second fastest both times.

“So that boded well for the fourth and final qualifying session on Friday afternoon, and indeed for the race. Unfortunately, the starting driver (i.e. moi) seemed to be doomed, because on my second installation lap I had massive spin where the "new" part joins the "old" part of the track, doing a neat 360 twirly, sliding to the right and just brushing the guard rails on the right hand side. So I came back in, the team looked over the car and saw it was just cosmetic damage and sent me out again. I then wanted to do two full laps to get enough heat in the tyres and then go for a time, but on the second on those laps a valve broke and dropped.

“We tried to buy a new engine everywhere in Belgium, Holland and Germany, but since it's so specific it was impossible to find a decent replacement. We even contemplated buying an Italian VW Lupo Cup which was sitting in the paddock, and convert it to endurance-spec overnight, but that proved a near-impossible operation. So at 8pm the story of the dsc VW Polo in the Spa 2003 Miles ended. Very frustrating, because everybody worked hard to get there. The engine was fresh for this race, so the valve broke when it had only done some 150 miles.

“I'll get my Ardennes revenge next week, when we're driving the BMW M3 in the ZETC for a 4 hour race at the same track, but we're nevertheless looking into some endurance revenge for the Polo as well. Maybe at the Zolder 10 Hours in November.”

Very sad, Bob. Please offer our commiserations to all involved – not that words will do any good, of course. But as true racers, you’ll bounce back. A shame that valve won’t though. Ed.

Below is the top 15 for the 2003 Miles grid. 44 cars practised, but at least one won't make it.

Here are newsworthy bits of information, provided by Bob himself.

1. Famous, legendary and other well known sportscar drivers on the grid: Vincent Vosse, Philip Peter (the third Audin R8 in Le Mans last year), Dieter Quester (still going strong after all these years), David Sterckx (second in Spa 24 last year driving the Lister), Pierre De Thoisy, Nigel Greensall, Claude Bourgoignie (multiple class winner in LM in the early eighties, Pete Halsmer (of BF Goodrich Porsche 962 fame)

2. Ladies at the start: Fanny Duchateau, Sylvie Delcour, Francesca Akkermans.

3. From the US: one team made it all the way from the US entering a Honda Civic-R: Mark Hein, John, Green, John Schmitt and Pete Halsmer.

4. The most impressive team: the most impressive outfit is definitely the Duller Motorsport team from Austria, entering two beautiful Red Bull BMW M3s for the likes of Dieter Quester, Philip Peter and friends.

5. The most impressive off: one of those Red Bull friends destroyed the number 1 Red Bull BMW at Blanchimont in the first night qualifying session. The team duly got a spare car out of the truck, put the correct decals on it and got going again on Friday!

dailysportscar.com

6. Jaguar Mondeo or Ford X-type? The tubeframe Jaguar X-type Silhouette is actually the same car as the Ford Mondeo which runs in the Belcar series. They just swapped bodywork, but the Jaguar looks definitely the part in its racing green livery.
Bob Winter

Qualifying Times

1. Lupant-Stelandre-Slaus-Radermecker (BMW M3 Silhouette) 2'30''072
2. Vosse-Peter-Quester-Wolff (BMW M3) 2'31''521
3. Heydens-Dermont-Sterckx-Thiry (Jaguar Silhouette) 2'36''492
4. Corbisier-Nef-Delobbe-Lémeret (BMW M3 Silhouette) 2'36''560
5. Verbergt-Duchateau-Hemroulle-Dubois (Audi A4 Silhouette light) 2'37''268
6. Bruno-Beulen-Turco-Franchi (BMW M3 Silhouette) 2'38''125
7. Bouvy-Redhouse-Quester jr-Handkammer (BMW M3) 2'39''717
8. Deman-Geoffroy-Qvick-Colman (Mini S3) 2'40''184
9. Leyssens-Coenen-Vanbellinghen-Haugg (BMW 320i) 2'41''608
10. Mathieu-Verhoeven-Meynart-Voets (BMW M3) 2'42''022
11. Hazebrouck-De Thoisy-Depoix (BMW M3) 2'45''767
12. De Wilde-Horion-Chouvel-Corthals-Sterckx (Renault Clio) 2'46''918
13. Demuth-Demuth-Dumont-Schmit-Kreak (BMW M3) 2'47''094
14. Kenis-Smets-Lumbeeck-Dekeersmaeker (BMW M3) 2'48''098
15. Delcour-Baugnée-Blaise (BMW 328i) 2'48''249
16. Brouwers-Dubois-Mosselmans-Dunesme (Peugeot 306) 2'49''203
17. Van Rompuy-Buytaert-Dehaye (VW Golf) 2'49''493
18. Houbben-De Hoen-Servais-Matot (BMW Compact) 2'49''894
19. André-Thelen-Heck-Haddouche-Vannerum (BMW M3) 2'50''579
20. Greensall-Pashley-Tomlinson (BMW M3) 2'51''306
21. Hein-Green-Schmitt-Halsmer (Honda Civic R) 2'53''387
22. Godefroid-Counet-Boulanger-Corrales (VW Corrado) 2'53''453
23. Delannoy-Adriaenssens-De Groote (VW Golf) 2'54''705
24. Verhofstadt-Norris-Constant-Grandmont-Bourgoignie (BMW M5) 2'54''827
25. Boonen-Franck-Van der Straten-Boulik (BMW M3) 2'54''875
26. Naveaux-Menage-Raxhon-Galand-Wilders (Honda Integra) 2'55''271
27. Doms-Verbanck-Bonduel-Prignon (Honda Prélude) 2'56''877
28. Stéveny-Henry de Frahan-Morlet-Dehaspe (Peugeot 205 Gti) 2'57''491
29. D'Ansembourg-De Paux-Van den Hove (Renault Clio) 2'58''187
30. Lempereur-De Coninck-Bernardus-De Smet-De Coninck (VW Vento) 2'59''238
31. Latour-Janssens-Van den Berk-Akkermans-Scholten (Toyota Yaris) 3'04''190
32. Delodder-Sevrin-Spinnael (Saab 9.3) 3'04''675
33. Flohimont-Marin-Patureau-Bultuis-Gilles (Renault Clio) 3'05''080
34. Van de Plas-Liard-Meert (Toyota Yaris) 3'05''466
35. Van Billoen-Van Damme-Bousson-Doolaege-Clermont (Honda Civic) 3'06''744
36. Grifnée-Collin-Ronveaux-Papeians-Jorquera (Peugeot 106 Gti) 3'07''853
37. Dubois-De Keijser-De Keijser (VW Lupo) 3'08''757
38. Wilmus-Petit-Dunand-Mahaut-Berger (Honda Civic) 3'09''422
39. Cohignac-Reicher-Cotteret-Delvaux (Renault Clio) 3'10''227
40. Van Hoof-Nelissen Grade-Winter (VW Polo) 3'10''736
41. Fischer-Cornet-Rousseau-Hopchet (VW Polo) 3'13''233

 

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