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Practice & qualifying
The Spa Summer Classic has over the years become part of NK HTGT tradition, usually drawing a big entry. This year was no exception with a quality field of 46. The weekend started with a free practice early on friday morning. Unfortunately for some it didn’t last long. Old hand Tommy Brorsson, celebrating his 70th birthday in his 50th season of racing, was the first to have an off, being caught out by the slippery tarmac. He managed to fix his bent Lotus Elan’s suspension in time for qualifying though. Stephen Perry was less lucky, his bellhousing split as he powered down towards Eau Rouge, sending his Ford Falcon’s propshaft careering down the track. Nico Zonneveld was another victim of the wet conditions, he damaged his Morgan +4’s front against the rear of Cees Lubbers’ Ford Falcon when he unsuccessfully tried to slow down for La Source. With deranged front suspension he had no option but to load up. The CSI team ran two Mini’s as usual, but they were not their normal entries, Nico van Velsen making a welcome comeback in his pale yellow example and Romanian Alexandru Ciolan debuting his freshly built red car. There were more new faces, Jan Willem van Es and Maarten Hoeben debuted in Bluebell, the famous ex-Goodwood Austin A35. Not strictly legal with a 1293 cc engine but no-one minded that. A case of long time no see was Basil Ball in his Lotus Cortina, a car he has owned and raced for 38 years. From Germany there was Uwe Markovac in a nice pale yellow Triumph TR4 and finally Dierk Adoms was back in his MGB.
Qualifying got underway on a dry track at the end of Friday afternoon. Rookie Marc Nouwens was unlucky when his Austin Healey refused to start and he couldn’t find the fault, forcing him to sit out the session. It was good to see Michel Oprey back at the wheel of his Shelby Mustang, four Shelby’s thundering down the track made an impressive sight, Oprey being joined by Jip van Putten, Frans van Maarschalkerwaart and Maarten Fokke. The pace was set by Spa expert Christophe van Riet in an AC Cobra, the guest driver sharing his entry with his regular co-driver Christian Dumoulin. Next up was Brorsson in his repaired car ahead of Norbert Gross in his Falcon. Richard Evans put in some very quick laps in his Marcos 1800, putting him in a provisional fourth grid spot.
Armand Adriaans hasn’t had much luck with his new mount so far, he parked the Corvette at the exit of La Source after four laps. Although it didn’t appear to be in a very dangerous position and double yellows would have sufficed, Race Control decided to red flag the session. At Spa it takes a long time for everyone to actually get off the track, so when things got underway again there was time for just one timed lap. Rainer Vorköper made best use of the opportunity by getting his E-type up to fifth and Bob Stevens pedalled his Lotus Elan to sixth. Then came Georg Nolte, not in his GT40 but in the lightweight E-type. David Verzijlbergen qualified Mark Dols’ Marcos in eigth ahead of Jos Stevens in the third of the Lotus Elans. Martin Bijleveld rounded out the top-10, second quickest of the touring cars, just ahead of fellow Ford-men Bart-Jan Deenik and Roel Korsten. Sander van Gils was down in 13th, his Lotus Elan hamperd by a faulty coil. Bas Jansen was getting to grips with his latest acquisition, a TVR Griffith. Not having moved for several years the car was not up to speed yet and he languished in 22th. Roger Ebdon was the fastest of the Mini’s, ahead of Rob Rappange , Nico van Velsen, Udo Hartmann and Alexandru Ciolan. Edwin Dijkman was the fastest of the MGBs ahead of Egbert Kolvoort, Niek van Gils, the pairing of Nykle Meijer/Mark Schmidt and Dierk Adoms. Unfortunately we lost Markovac as the TR4’s head gasket had gone with metal-bending results.
Race 1: Gross goes for gold
Having qualified 8 seconds quicker than the next man, it looked a foregone conclusion that the Cobra would run away with the race. Things turned out rather differently howver. Dumoulin struggled for grip and it was Norbert Gross in the Falcon who powered ahead out of La Source while Evans was also ready to pounce. He was followed by Vorköper, Bob Stevens and Mark Dols who was determined to hang on to the other Marcos. A bit too deteremined as it turned out – he lost it in a big way after Raidillon. Spinning in the middle of a 45-car pack is not a clever idea and it was only due to Bart Deenik’s lightning reflexes that Dols in his lightweight wooden projectile wasn’t t-boned by a lump of American iron. Instead the rotating Marcos clouted the Falcon on the left rear. Miraculously both could continue, the Marcos without its bootlid. Which is more than can be said of Evans, who retired from third having lost the electrics, a fate which had befallen Jochem Kentgens in the Morgan as well. There were more early casualties, Ciolan retiring his Mini with gear selection problems, Frits Campagne parking his Falcon with avibration and Alex Korle doing likewise with his Lotus Elan due to a sick engine.
Brorsson was now coming to the fore with a very quick first lap, passing the Cobra for second. Bob Stevens followed suit and took third, only to make a mistake and drop back a couple of places. Tom Kuiper was going well in the Corvette, passing Bijleveld’s Falcon for fifth. Then it was Jip van Putten in the fastest of the Shelby Mustangs ahead of Sander van Gils, who had clouted the rear of Jos Stevens’ Elan in the mêlee behind the spinning Marcos. More Shelby’s followed, driven by Fokke and Van Maarschalkerwaart. They were pursued by Armand Adriaans in the Corvette and Jos Stevens in the orange Lotus Elan. With both Marcoses in trouble, the lead in GTS11 was contested by Erwin van Lieshout in the Porsche 911 and Paul Lejeune in the Triumph TR4, followed by Dijkman in the fastest of the MGBs. In the small touring car class Ebdon had a healthy 20-second lead over Rappange who was being harried by Van Velsen in a four-way battle which also involved Dijkman and Niek van with their MGBs. At the back of the field Nouwens was learning the track, his Healey now running well, and trading places with birthday boy Jan Willem van Es in the A35 and Dierk Adoms in the MGB.
Kuiper was flying now, passing Brorsson for second in La Source. The hairpin was were all the action was, Bijleveld squeezing past Dumoulin and forcing the Cobra wide, allowing Bob Stevens to follow suit. Van Putten was still ahead of Sander van Gils, but unlike at Brands the damage to the Lotus’ nose had no adverse effects on its speed and he was clearly looking for a way past. Deenik was having a good battle with Korsten for third in CT10, his Ford Falcon apparently also not slowed by the damage to its rear quarters.
Nico van Velsen was now ahead of Rob Rappange and clearly enjoying himself while Michel Oprey made the first of a series of pitstops to attend to a badly running engine. What had started as an intermittent drizzle now intensified and changed the character of the race. Kuiper took the lead with a lap that was some 5 seconds quicker than Gross could manage. Sander van Gils passed Bob Stevens for fourth while Dumoulin the Cobra kept losing ground. Korsten got ahead of Deenik, Rappange took back the place from Van Velsen and Adoms outfoxed Nouwens, while Basil Ball passed Gerrit Jan van Leenen in the battle of the Lotus Cortina veterans.
After 5 laps it was Gross back in the lead. Kuiper had disappeared, his fuel-injected Corvette stranded due to a lack of….fuel. Brorsson was back in second but was being reeled in by Sander van Gils, while Bijleveld was also going well in the wet conditions. Nico van Velsen nearly lost it going up the hill and gave up his pursuit of Rappange. Further on there was a big scrap with Udo Hartmann in the Mini Cooper ahead of Cees Lubbers (Ford Falcon) Jac Meewissen, (Healey 3000), Basil Ball, Nykle Meijer (MGB), Van Leenen and Egbert Kolvoort (MGB). Dijkman was out with a faulty ignition, having just been passed by Mark Dols for third in GTS11.
Sander van Gils was now really closing up on Norbert Gross, being able to lap several seconds quicker, but the race was not long enough and the green Falcon was first past the flag, 2.9 seconds ahead of the yellow Elan. Bijleveld took a strong third, ahead of the Elans of Brorsson and Bob Stevens, with Jip van Putten winning GTS12 in sixth in the Shelby. Roel Korsten was a strong seventh in his Mustang, Dumoulin hung on to eighth in the Cobra ahead of Deenik while Frans van Maarschalkerwaart rounded off the top-10. CT08 was won by Ball, CT07 by Ebdon ahead of Rappange and Van Velsen. GTS11 was won by Van Lieshout whose Porsche 911 had superior traction in the wet to Lejeune’s TR4. Dols salvaged third in class. The remaining classes were won by Michel Lombard (Alpine A110) and Jan Willem van Es (A35).
Race 2: disappointingly short
Things looked promising for the second race, with Kuiper starting from the back of the grid, this time with a full tank. Frits Campagne and Richard Evans were also there and raring to go, so there was a good chance of some nice drives through the field. The Cobra’s issues had been and as the lights changed Christophe van Riet rocketed to thefront and immediately took the lead from Gross and van Gils. Next, van der Ende and Van Putten powered their V8’s past Van Gils’ Elan. Dijkman had his ignition not quite fixed, the car ran on three cilinders and he retired for the second race in succession.
Coming up to the chicane fort he first time van Riet already had a big lead from Gross, while Sander van Gils had repassed van Putten and now outbraked van der Ende for third. Kuiper and Campagne had made up 30 and 25 places repectively while Bert du Toy van Hees, in van Leenen’s Lotus Cortina, also had a good first lap, leading a group with Rappange, Lombard, Hartmann and van Velsen. Lejeune had taken the lead in GTS11 ahead of Dols, but Evans was on the move, already up to fourth behind van Lieshout. In CT07 it was Ebdon’s Mini to the fore us usual, only this time it was driven by engine builder Neil Slark.
Bart-Jan Deenik was in the thick of things again, he got sideways on the approach to Blanchimont. Having raced on sticky Avons in the Three Hours the previous evening, and very successfully so, the old-style Dunlops caught him out and he clouted the guardrail heavily, doing a lot of damage to his Ford Falcon. The driver was OK but the car needed to be towed. The Safety Car was employed and with a track lenght of 7 kilometres it took a long time for everything to get organized. Again one wonders if double yellows would not have been better, then the cars could have raced for the remaining 6-odd kilometres for 5 laps instead of circulating frustratingly slowly. When the Ford Falcon had finally been moved out of the way there was only time for a one lap sprint to the finish, making it effectively a 2-lap race.
Kuiper made good use of the bunched up field and jumped from 8th to 2nd in the one remaining lap. Sander van Gils was hellbent on getting another podium and outbraked Gross for third with a daring move in the final corner. Gross did win the big touring car class, three seconds ahead of van der Ende. Bob Stevens was fifth, ahead of Jip van Putten and Tommy Brorsson, while Jos Stevens made it four Lotus Elans in the top-10. Bas Jansen had his TVR running rather better now and came 10th. Even behind the Safety Car there had been some excitement, Evans’ Marcos giving up the ghost again. Mark Dols managed to pass Paul Lejeune on the final lap and won GTS11. Du Toy van Hees won CT08 from Ball while Slark drove Ebdon’s Cooper to a win in the Mini class, ahead of Rappange, van Velsen, Hartmann and Ciolan. The singleton entries of Lombard (Alpine) and Maarten Hoeben (A35) won their class again by default. De Spa Summer Classic is vaste prik op het programma van het Nederlands kampioenschap voor toerwagens en GT’s gebouwd voor 1966 en trok zo’n 45 deelnemers. Nadat Christophe van Riet met een verschil van maar liefst 8 seconden de pole had gezet in de Shelby Cobra die hij deelde met Christian Dumoulin, leek het een uitgemaakte zaak dat dit duo Spa-specialisten met de winst aan de haal zou gaan. Niets bleek minder waar, op de gladde baan had de Cobra nauwelijks grip en het was Norbert Gross in de Ford Falcon die de leiding van de eerste race nam. De concurrentie bestaande uit Richard Evans (Marcos 1800) en Tom Kuiper (Chevrolet Corvette) schakelde zichzelf uit met een gebrek aan stroom respectievelijk benzine. Lotus Elan-rijders Tommy Brorsson, Bob Stevens en Sander van Gils konden het tempo van de leider niet volgen, ook omdat ze in gevecht waren met Jaap van der Ende in alweer een Ford Falcon. Naarmate de race vorderde werd het steeds natter. De man die hier het beste mee omging was Sander van Gils die gestart vanaf de 13e plaats als tweede eindigde. Erwin van Lieshout maakte goed gebruik van de tractie van zijn Porsche 911 en won de GTS11-klasse. De kleine toerwagenklasse was voor Roger Ebdon in de Mini.
Bij de start van Race 2 schoot van Riet meteen naar voren en nam de leiding voor Gross en van Gils. Tom Kuiper moest achteraan beginnen en maakte grote stappen. Helaas werd de race onderbroken door een langdurige Safety Car periode nadat Bart Deenik er hard af was gegaan in Blanchimont. Toen de Ford Falcon was afgesleept restte er nog slechts tijd voor een sprint van één ronde. Kuiper was de man die het meest wist te profiteren van de hergroepering, hij sprong van de achtste naar de tweede plaats. Sander van Gils was gebrand op het podium en remde Gross uit voor de laatste bocht, zodat hij de derde trede mocht beklimmen. Gross won wel de grote toerwagenklasse. De kleine toerwagenklasse was voor Neil Slark in Ebdon’s Mini, terwijl Mark Dols (Marcos) de winst in GTS11 pakte.