VW Fun Cup At Spa
No less than Guy Smith teamed up with the Top Gear Team Uniroyal for the VW Fun Cup at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend (July 10 /11) – writes Hansgerd Bramann.

The VW Fun Cup at Spa is a one make, 25 hour endurance race. The cars are all equal (as far as the regulations go) old generation Beetles with a 1.8 Liter engine, which is good enough for roughly 130 hp.

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I was there two hours before the start at 16:00 on Saturday. By chance, I virtually bumped into one mechanic of the Rollcentre crew, who happened to be there to help out at JPR Motorsport, the team looking after the Top Gear car. So, I had easy access to their pit garage and to the right source of information.

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The conditions were a bit like at the Nürburgring the week before, rain showers mixed with cloudy spells, and some sunshine. The temperatures were pretty much the same as well. Apart from that, the atmosphere was busy but relaxed as always at Spa.

The Top Gear Beetle (#88) was driven by Guy Smith, Alistair Weaver and Fergus Campbell. They qualified in 34th position on the grid with a 3:34 lap (yes, 3 minutes and 34 seconds for one lap around Spa-Francorchamps! Guy could manage nearly two laps in that time in an R8). The quicker cars lapped around 3:10.

dailysportscar.comDue to the wet track and only one kind of tyre allowed there were many offs: that’s why broken splitters were changed on a regular basis and the cars looked rather second hand. However, splitters weren’t the only worry of the Top Gear crew. During the 25 hours of the race they had three gearbox changes (the last one took the mechanics just 15 minutes, nearly Audi time), the clutch went once, a driveshaft caused problems, they ran out of petrol once and there were loads of other little things. That’s why they finished in only 86th position. With such a meagre result under the belt you could think that Guy Smith was dissatisfied. Wrong, he enjoyed himself and later said that it was good fun out there. It was the Fun Cup after all, and it was meant to be fun.

dailysportscar.comPS. There have been quite a few changes to the Spa circuit during the past month. Firstly, the new entry to the bus stop chicane is now in place. It’s been widened and has a huge run-off zone, as shown in the images on dsc. The pit entry has been moved to the middle of the short straight in the chicane.

The Kemmel straight up the hill is double fenced now. According to a marshal I talked to, this is because of FIA requirements. The FIA demanded stronger fences on the straight with regards to the Formula 1 race. You can still overlook the fences from the top of the banking but one good spot for taking photographs (from the public areas) is unusable now. This was just before the bridge where you could see the cars shooting up the hill. The marshal post at the side and the crowded grandstand in the background always looked good: a great spot, which was accessible to non press people too.

Anyway, it was refreshing to see Guy Smith in a VW Beetle at Spa this weekend. It was something different for him and it’s good to know that drivers like him still participate in “minor” race events. That hopefully gives the VW Fun Cup a chance to get more attention from the public.

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