dsc Polo Wins Round 7 of BTCS
Last weekend (July 10-11) saw rounds six and seven of the Belgian Touring Car Series take place, at a very wet Spa. Weather conditions were similar to the Nürburgring one week earlier, which of course shouldn't come as a surprise since both tracks are located in the same region and are equally infamous for "their" weather.

(images taken in drier conditions)

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Because the BTCS races ran as support races to the Fun Cup 25 Hours on Saturday morning, both rounds were shortened to one hour each (instead of the usual 90 minutes) - which basically meant a sprint race with a pit stop only to change drivers. Funnily enough there were more cars entered for these short races (52 starters in total) than there have been before for the longer events. A few more Porsches were added in the big classes, but the focus of the battle would be on both tube-frame BMW M3s, the two GPR Porsches of Nef / Lemeret and Mathieu / Voets, the tube-frame Jaguar and of course the official Audi A4 Quattro.

dailysportscar.com"Practice was a lottery," said Bob Winter (in thoughtful pose, right). "Would it rain, would it not? We opted for slicks in the first session, despite a damp track and despite the fact that half the track had recently been resurfaced, which meant it was as slippery as could be."

Indeed, Spa is undergoing some changes, the most noticeable being the altered Bus Stop chicane. "Before, when you came out of the Blanchimont double lefthander - which you take flat - you had a slight kink to the right before going straight on to the Bus Stop," Winter explains. "Now, where that little kink used to be, you have to turn sharp right, before turning sharp left into the Bus Stop. What it does is that you now have to start braking when turning right. Remember, you're flat in fifth or sixth gear at that point, so it can sometimes get a bit hairy when you have to brake, downshift and turn sharp right at the same time, especially when it's raining cats and dogs like it did. But it adds to the fun and I think it will be interesting to see the McNishes and Herberts of this world tackle that corner in September. That said, by turning sharp right before the Bus Stop and thus losing your speed, the Bus Stop itself loses it "raison d'être". I hope they'll get rid off it and use the new section as a regular chicane, after which you can rejoin the old, pre-Bus Stop, track."

The reasonable weather of first practice was as good as it would get at Spa that weekend. "For the second session, Spa again became what it so often is: the sink of Belgium. We had some serious problems demisting the windscreen of our car, so we barely did any running in the rain." Nevertheless, the dsc Lehmann VW Polo would start from second in class, and well up on the grid overall.

dailysportscar.comCome raceday however the weather was dry for the first race, but the track was still wet. "I had hoped the Fun Cup warm-up, just before our first race, would have dried the track a bit. You'd think that some 130 cars running around for half an hour would at least clean up the line a bit, but it was still slippery as hell at the start. Or in other words: being on slicks on a greasy track I completely screwed up the start," Winter says.

At the front the battle for the lead was a fierce one, but soon the first victims would fall. The Porsche of championship leaders Nef and Lemeret had to call it quits with clutch problems, while the sister car of Voets and Mathieu ended its race in the gravel trap when the latter was chasing the Audi for second place. Victory in race one went to Miss Sylvie Delcour and David Loix in their Oreca-built tube-frame BMW M3. In Class B, Bob Winter and Marc Van Hoof finished third.

dailysportscar.comFor the second race that afternoon it was business as usual, weather-wise at least: heavy rain and zero visibility. "Just before the pitlane closed it started raining, so we had to put on rain tyres, which meant risking having to start from the pitlane exit. The guys had just finished doing that, when the pitlane exit light turned red, so we had start dead last, without knowing what the track was like," Winter said. The weather certainly didn't seem to bother the cars at the front, with the battle not only going for first place in the race, but also for the lead in the championship. First victim would be the Audi of Verbergt and Hemroulle, losing five laps after an off early on. Nef and Lemeret would go on to win the second race of the day, with the Jaguar close behind and the Delcour / Loix BMW in third.

And the dsc VW Polo? "The car cut like a hot knife through butter," Winter said. "Marc was especially keen on proving that at age 50-something he can still teach a thing or two to the others. Remember that we had to start from the pitlane, so finishing first a lap clear on everybody else after just an hour is a rather jolly good result, me thinks."

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Jolly good show, Bob and Marc!

dailysportscar.comThe team's first win of the year, combined with the DNF of their closest rival, means that Winter and Van Hoof are now second in the championship, with still a good chance of clinching the title. "There are still four races to go, and at the end of the year you have to drop two scores which in our case is the two DNSs from the first weekend. Our competitors however will have to lose a lot of points, so the double zero which upset us quite a bit at the beginning of the season could turn out to be a blessing after all," Winter concluded.

Rounds 8 and 9 of the BTCS will be run in Zolder on September 18/19.

Results BTCS Round 6
Overall
1. Delcour/Loix BMW M3 23 laps in 1h01m17s771 (average: 156.402kph)

2. Hemroulle/Verbergt Audi A4 + 0m31s258
3. Thiry/Dermont Jaguar X-Type + 0m40s785
Class B
1. Norris (GB)/Thiebault Peugeot 106 19 laps in 1h02m03s906 (average: 127.601 kph)

2. Collin/Dronveaux Peugeot 106 + 0m00s984
3. Winter/Van Hoof VW Polo + 1 lap

Results BTCS Round 7
Overall
1. Nef/Lemeret Porsche 911 GT3 21 laps in 1h02m04s762 (average: 141.000kph)

2. Thiry/Dermont Jaguar X-Type + 0m12s166
3. Delcour/Loix BMW M3 + 0m29s060
Class B
1. Winter/Van Hoof VW Polo 18 laps in 1h03m34s765 (average: 118.006 kph)

2. Mottart/Laloux Honda Civic + 1 lap
3. Collion/Dronveaux Peugeot 106 + 2 laps.

 

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