Gamma Racing Day 2016

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With a very full programme the Gamma Racing Day (that’s its official name, it is actually a 3-day event) started on Friday not with the usual free practice session but straight in with qualifying, albeit a long 40-minute session. Although in the midst of the summer holidays, a quality field of 40-odd pre-’66 racers lined up. The V8 Falcons were unusually subdued, Norbert Gross’ example spending a lot of time in the pits with the bonnet up. “Mr. Gamma” Jos Stevens lost no time in putting his orange Elan on pole. Bob Stevens was hampered by an oil leak and couldn’t touch his father’s time but did enough to secure second, making it an all-Lotus front row. In GTS11 RobertHamilton of Silvertonhill was in a class of his own in his orange Marcos 1800, immaculately prepared as ever. He secured third on the grid. Fourth was yet another orange car, the pairing of Martin Bijleveld and Jaap van der Ende in the fastest of the Detroit iron brigade. Norbert Gross and Frits Campagne followed in two more Ford Falcons. Second fastest in GTS11 was Nico Zonneveld, his Morgan repaired after his Spa mishap. More Detroit iron followed with Jip van Putten in the Shelby Mustang, fastest in GTS12, ahead of Stephen Perry in another Falcon, while Bas Jansen in the TVR Griffith rounded out the top-10. Mark Dols was 11th in the second of the Marcoses, while Richard Evans languished back in 22nd, having all sorts of problems, as usual. More Detroit Iron followed with Frans van Maarschalkerwaart, Roel Korsten, Maarten Fokke and Marcel van Laarhoven in various Mustang varieties. Fastest of the Minis were René de Vries and Jonathan Lewis in a freshly built example (it appears that a new car is wheeled out of the CSI Racing workshop for every meeting this year). Klaas and Timo Span were second fastest in the CT07 class ahead of Bert Mets, Roger Ebdon and Alexandru Ciolan. Bert du Toy van Hees posted some quick times in the Lotus Cortina, but then proceeded to have a tankslapper at the one spot where the guardrail is close to the track, resulting in a seriously dented left front corner. Alex Korle was still trying to fix his Lotus Elan, therefore he brought along his Alfa Giulietta Spider once more, qualifying it on the last row of the grid next to his friend Horst Kukemüller’s coupé version. It’s good to have these two gents around, since they are the only representatives of the proud Milanese marque, and of Italy in general, in the NK HTGT!
Race 1
The efficient organisers were bang on time with Saturdays programme, which was unfortunate for Nykle Meijer, as Xaviera’s rear axle had been stripped for repair and was not yet back in place. This meant the MGB driver had to sit out the race, despite frantic work by the LB Racing mechanics.
Jos Stevens had a great start, while Bob Stevens did not, Martin Bijleveld slotting into second with Gross third. Stevens jr. followed but had trouble keeping Hamilton behind. Horsepower matters on the long Veenslang straight and Gross had a good exit from the tight Strubben hairpin to pass Bijleveld, while Van Putten was also making great strides. Bijleveld fought back and this allowed Jos Stevens to pull away slightly at the front. Evans’ Marcos was smoking again, but it showed better speed than in practice, while in CT07 it was all change as René de Vries had made one of his customary slow starts, while Ebdon made a demon getaway to power past Klaas Span, Bert Mets and de Vries to take the class lead. As usual there were battles throughout the field right through to the trio of Ciolan, Korle and Dierk Adoms (MGB) who were trying to decide who should hold last place. Roel Korsten had a brake balance problem and clouted the rear of Erwin van Lieshout’s Porsche 911. They both stopped in the pits, Korsten apologized and helped pull the bodywork from the Porsche’s tire, then they both got back in their cars and re-joined. True gentlemen’s racing!
Bob Stevens was under threat from Hamilton and van Putten, while a great scrap was going on for seventh between Frits Campagne, Bas Jansen, Frans van Maarschalkerwaart and Nico Zonneveld. Cees Lubbers had trouble keeping his Ford Falcon on track at the exit of the very fast Ramshoek corner, going very wide and then slotting back in justahead of Mark Dols in the Marcos. Not far behind Thomas Augustin (Ford Mustang) was being harried by an on-form Egbert Kolvoort in the MGB. Bob Stevens was dropping back with a down on power engine, while René de Vries made up for his poor start by wrestling the class lead from Ebdon. Lubbers was still under pressure from Dols while Lars Bondesson (Lotus Elan) had a tussle with Jac Meeuwissen in the Austin Healey.
Bijleveld made another attempt for second, this time trying to go around the outside of Gross, but it didn’t work. Bob Stevens retired his poorly Elan which meant that Bas Jansen was now leading the battle for sixth ahead of Campagne, van Maarschalkerwaart and Zonneveld. Bondesson and Meeuwissen were now joined by de Vries who was going very well in his new Mini, while Michel Lombard in his little Alpine A110 was having a good scrap with Michel Oprey and Rhea Sautter in their Shelby Mustangs. Egbert Kolvoort was closing up on Klaas Span’s Mini while Adoms and Ciolan had managed to shake off Korle who was being distracted by his passenger door flying open on left hand corners.
A yellow flag at Strubben and the first of the backmarkers being lapped enabled Gross and Bijleveld to close up on the leader. Next, Bijleveld managed to outbrake Gross for second at Ruskenhoek, but Gross returned the favour half a lap later at the Haarbocht. This helped Stevens pull away again, while Hamilton closed in on Bijleveld, hoping to cash in on the fact that the light-footed Marcos is easier on tires than the heavy Fords. Jansen in the TVR had pulled clear a little, while van Maarschalkerwaart was now ahead of Campagne, with Perry close behind, having passed Zonneveld.
By now we had lost Paul Lejeune in the Triumph TR4 with a cracked cylinder liner, while Meeuwissen’s Healey had blown its head gasket. De Vries was still harrying Bondesson while Bert Mets was now second in class, having passed Ebdon. Perry was on a roll, passing Campagne for third in CT10. Hamilton had bided his time, prepared his move in the long Ossenbroeken right-hander and passed Bijleveld in the tight Strubben corner, only for the Falcon to power back past him on the Veenslang straight. With mere minutes to go things started to get frantic. Bert Mets had an off in the gravel trap and Bondesson a spin which allowed de Vries past, while Jip van Putten made a pit stop, handing the class lead to Bas Jansen. This wasn’t to last though, the TVR having a mysterious problem cutting out after a while. This time the hammer fell after 10 laps, two short of the race distance.
Jos Stevens celebrated his birthday in style by winning, 3,2 seconds ahead of Gross. Bijleveld had tried everything possible to wrest first in CT10 from Gross and in doing so asked a lot from his tires. Robert Hamilton had wisely not interfered with the battle for second and was there to take the final podium spot when it mattered, as well as winning GTS11. Perry took 5th and 3rd in CT10 ahead of Frans van Maarschalkerwaart who was the surprise winner of GTS12 in his Shelby. Frits Campagne was 7th with Nico Zonneveld 8th. Maarten Fokke took second inGTS12 while Richard Evans rounded out the top-10 and was third in GTS11. Jip van Putten salvaged 11th and third in class after his pit stop. Mark Dols finally managed to pass Lubbers and nearly caught van Laarhoven for 13th. De Vries won CT07 from Ebdon and Klaas Span. Sautter won the battle with Lombard and Egbert Kolvoort kept up his pace, also managing to pas Michel Oprey.
Race 2
There was a lot going on in the paddock on saturday night and Sunday morning. The Span family was busy performing an engine change, Roger Ebdon having offered the use of his spare motor. Roel Korsten and Appie Maassen got busy straightening the Lotus Cortina so that car owner Gerrit Jan van Leenen could take the start. Xaviera had her back axle in place and Meeuwissen’s Healey had a new gasket. Thomas Ardelt and Alexandra Auer had arrived with the Volvo Amazon and the Tachyon mechanics were busy fettling the Corvette Grand Sport, Michiel Campagne having arrived back from holiday ready to start from the back.
As the field lined up, the starter seemed to be in a hurry – the lights went out the moment they had come on. Jos Stevens wasn’t quite ready, perhaps as a result of his birthday celebrations. Gross took the lead and vanMaarschalkerwaart had a brilliant start, jumping from sixth to second. Nico Zonneveld was eyeing the GTS11 lead, being right behind Hamilton, but the Marcos driver made amends by passing the Falcons of Frits Campagne and Jaap van der Ende. From the back, Michiel Campagne, Bob Stevens and Thomas Ardelt made great getaways, gaining a lot of places. Gerrit Jan van Leenen was less lucky, after all the hard graft he had to retire the Lotus Cortina with a loose flywheel. By that time we had also lost Timo Span, who had broken a driveshaft on the Mini. And the retirements kept coming, Augustin’s Mustang expiring in front of the main grandstand in a big cloud of steam, while we also lost Evans in his Marcos.
After two laps Gross was ahead, Van Maarschalkerwaart was being reeled in by Jos Stevens and Stephen Perry was fourth ahead of Hamilton, van der Ende, Campagne F. and Zonneveld, with Campagne M. already in 9th, having justovertaken the Shelby-train of van Putten, Fokke and van Laarhoven. Bob Stevens was not far behind planning to do the same after a great move round the outside of Lubbbers at the GT chicane. Lewis was heading the Minis with a healthy lead over Ebdon and Mets, who were battling with Kolvoort. At the back, Ciolan, Adoms and Korle had picked up where they had left off in the previous race.
Michiel Campagne kept going great guns, using the power of the Grand Sport Corvette to slingshot past all and sundry, although he nearly overcooked it, coming perilously close to clouting the back of Hamilton’s Marcos under braking. Ardelt had moved up to 24th, not bad in the heavy Volvo, rounding the fast Ramshoek corner in a succession of hairy looking four wheel slides, only to retire shortly afterwards with a lack of fuel. Jos Stevens tooksecond from van Maarschalkerwaart, while Michiel Campagne was up to fourth, having succesfully passed Hamilton. Perry, van der Ende and Frits Campagne had their own private battle of the Falcons, with Bob Stevens and Jip van Putten trying to get past this trio. Cees Lubbers was shadowed by Dols again, as well as Bas Jansen and Roel Korsten. Also closing in was Jac Meeuwissen, again battling with the fastest of the Minis, Lewis at the wheel. Meanwhile Bert Mets surprised Roger Ebdon by passing him and Egbert Kolvoort was now challenging Michel Lombard.
Jos Stevens outbraked Gross, but the German outaccelerated him to hang on to the lead. Michiel Campagne was ready to take third from van Maarschalkerwaart and Bob Stevens was lining up Hamilton to take fifth. Van Putten dealt with van der Ende and also managed to pass Perry, but the American was having none of it and retook the place a lap later. Bondesson had a good scrap with Sautter and Oprey while Meeuwissen was chased by van Lieshout and Lewis. Further back Kolvoort, Lombard, Mets and Ebdon had joined forces in a four-way battle.
Jos Stevens had now taken the lead and moments later Michiel Campagne overtook Gross for second, but instead of powering past the orange Elan he backed off slightly and chose to do some spectacular powersliding to entertain the crowds. Meanwhile Bob Stevens caught up with the leading trio. Maarten Fokke set about passing the Falcons of Frits Campagne and Jaap van der Ende, while the Falcon of Lubbers was still proving difficult to pass, this time it was Bas Jansen who was looking for an opportunity, Dols having dropped back a place. Sautter was now ahead of Oprey and Bondesson while van Lieshout had dealt with Meeuwissen, but only temporarily.
With the race coming into its final stages, the Geert Timmer chicane as usual was a good spot to watch some great (and sometimes not so great) outbraking attempts. Jos Stevens retook the lead from Michiel Campagne with Bob Stevens now third. Bas Jansen made another unsuccessful attempt to outbrake Lubbers. Van Lieshout showed how it’s done, cleanly outbraking Meeuwissen. Meanwhile, Michiel Campagne had powered ahead and Stevens sr. moved over for Stevens jr. to give him a chance to try and get the better of the Corvette Grand Sport. He very nearly pulled it off but braked too late and half spun, allowing not just his father but also Gross past and thereby missing out on the podium. Hamilton tried to outbrake van Maarschalkerwaart for fifth but that didn’t work either, he had to do a bit of off-roading. But he did hang on to sixth for another maximum score in GTS11, extending his lead in the championship standings. Perry had 0,6 of a second in hand over van Putten, while Fokke was ninth overall and third in GTS12. Then it was Jaap van der Ende, followed by Frits Campagne and Nico Zonneveld who scored another solid second place in GTS11. Cees Lubbers had managed to pass van Laarhoven and next up was Jansen, no doubt pleased that the TVR had lasted the distance. Meeuwissen retook van Lieshout’s Porsche in the sprint to the line. Lewis won CT07 but he was only 4,3seconds ahead of Mets who had shown Ebdon a clean pair of heels.
With half of the points scoring rounds completed, Robert Hamilton tops the leader board on 47 points with Gross just behind on 45,4. Nico Zonneveld is third, some way behind on 39, followed by Frans van Maarschalkerwaart on 37 and Roger Ebdon on 36. However, with 4 points scoring races still to come, nothing has been decided yet. Roll on Zandvoort!

Succes voor Stevens op Gamma Racing Day
Voor de vierde keer op rij verzorgde het NK HTGT een historisch intermezzo tijdens de druk bezochte Gamma Racing Day op het TT Circuit in Assen. Lotus-coureur Jos Stevens vierde op zaterdag zijn verjaardag in stijl door in de eerste race onbedreigd de winst te pakken. Om de tweede plaats werd fel gestreden door Norbert Gross en Martin Bijleveld in Ford Falcons, op korte afstand gevolgd door Robert Hamilton met zijn Marcos. Gross en Hamilton mochten uiteindelijk na een mooie strijd naar het podium. De kleine toerwagenklasse werd gewonnen door René de Vries in zijn Mini Cooper.
Op zondag moesten de 180 pk’s van Stevens’ kleine Lotus het afleggen tegen de 650 pk sterke Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport van Michiel Campagne, die achteraan moest starten. Dat is geen schande en Stevens was dan ook zeer tevreden met zijn tweede podiumplaats van het weekend. Aanvankelijk waren Norbert Gross en Frans van Maarschalkerwaart de gangmakers in deze race, totdat Jos Stevens in de zesde ronde de leiding nam. Michiel Campagne lag op dat moment al derde en ook Bob Stevens, gestart als 31-ste, was goed naar voren gekomen in zijn Lotus Elan. Stevens junior nam de tweede plaats van zijn vader over in een poging de Corvette te achterhalen, maar hij spinde in de laatste bocht en viel terug naar de vierde plaats. Ook Hamilton vergaloppeerde zich in de laatste bocht. Hij werd zodoende zesde. Dat was voldoende voor de winst in zijn klasse en daarmee behield hij de leiding in de tussenstand om het Nederlands kampioenschap. Jonathan Lewis won deze keer de Mini Cooper klasse.