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Spa 6 Hours, 2014

After both the Tyrrell 012 and the Lola T70 where both finished Philip was just waiting for the E-Type engine to return! The Engine was collected from Essex on Monday 15th September at 21:00pm. Philip now has less than 24 hours before, the truck needs to leave for Spa. After getting back to the workshop at approx. 23:00pm, he begins by getting the engine out of the van and positioned into the E-Type ready for his early start in the morning to get the engine bolted in, and the E-Type finished and ready for leaving on Wednesday. Tuesday night was almost as long as Monday, with Philip finishing off last bits of the E-Type including positioning lights, and just last bits of the final prep. He and Elliott also had to load the Truck ready for the leaving on Wednesday. Wednesday began slightly more relaxed than the previous days, loading final bits into the truck. The truck left at approx. 09.00, and arrived at Dover Docks at 12:00. Porting in Calais for 16:00 (local time), knowing that we had to be at the circuit before 22:00 (circuit entrances closed for lorries at 22:00), that gave us six hours to arrive. (Tight for a lorry, because of stops for Lorry Road Tax at Jabbeke, and legal breaks.) Fortunately there was only a little bit of traffic at Calais and none through Brussels so making it to the Stavelot entrance at 21:00 (slight panic because the lorry is 4.2m and the tunnel says 4m… Luckily the 4m was just a guide and we got through perfectly!). Thursday began with a damp start, the E-Type was booked in for the morning sessions, ready for Ian Simmonds to bed the engine in, and explain any changes he wanted to make to the car. The afternoon also went well, and all final changes had been made prior to qualifying on Friday. Friday also began damp but soon brightened up to reveal a beautiful sunny and warm day for the qualifying of the Phil Halls Lola T70, Ian Simmonds Tyrrell 012 and his Jaguar E-Type. Phil Hall Qualified well in his Lola T70, in the Masters Historic Sports Cars, coming out smiling, he managed to secure himself a respectable position of 25th out of 54. with a best time of 2:45.475. Ian Simmonds Qualified in the Masters Historic Formula One with his Tyrrell 012 in 9th out of 16 cars with a best time of 2:21.582, unfortunately the grids were very small due to half the grid racing out in Singapore, as a support race for the Formula One. Ian Simmonds, Phil Hall and Mark hales managed to secure a safe qualifying position of 40th on grid out of 107 cars in the E-Type, their best time was a 3:04.311. After qualifying the team could then make small changes to the set up and lights of the E-Type ready for the 6 hour race on Saturday. Saturday was dry and sunny for the Formula One Race and the first 2 hours of the Spa Six Hours. As always the team is buzzing and dressed in their smart white shirts for race day, the atmosphere was reasonably calm for a race day and everyone in the team was excited but a nervous about both the Historic Formula One Race and the Spa 6 Hours. The Historic Formula One race began at 15:05, the sun was still out and the track was dry, everyone was ready for the start of the race, and Ian managed to make up four places through out the race, continuously racing with other cars, the Tyrrell performed well finishing 5th out of 16 and securing 1st in class, Ian also managed to present his best time so far over the weekend with a 2.21.284. Straight after the Formula One Race, the Spa Six Hour was due to begin, the Team were struggling to get the E-Type to run… … after a Phil Hall got in and out of the Car a number of times, in this time the race had begun and was well under way, Complete Motorsport Solutions had managed to resolve the issue and the E-Type was sent out. After about 15 minutes Phil Hall had stopped at the end of the old pit straight, with the bonnet of the E-Type up, the team and Hall managed to get the car back out again, Hall came in a switched with Ian Simmonds. Unsure whether the issue was still there, this would then give Ian a chance to check that the car was handling right and that there was no more issues. Ian stayed out for about 40 minutes before coming in and switching with Phil again. In this stint Phil would get the opportunity to go into the petrol station and fill the E-Type up with fuel, this fuel stop was seamless and quick, allowing Phil to get back out on track and really begin to make up time that had been lost at the start. After about an hour and a half, Phil came in for a quick driver change over with Ian, ready for Ian to have his stint, at this point the sun was just starting to go down, and all the light where beginning to be switched on! As the rest of us watched as it started to get darker, more and more accidents where beginning to take place, and we all had our fingers crossed that nothing bad would happen, fortunately nothing did. Ian came in at the End of his stint and switched over with Mark Hales (professional driver), just before the end of Ian’s Stint, the rain started to fall, so it was a great effort in the team to try and keep drivers getting into the car and coming out of the car dry. The team between driver change over’s needed to ensure the windscreen inside and out where clean and easy to see through and that the exterior light covers where cleaned to ensure optimal light for the drivers to see and for other cars to see the E-Type coming. The added stress for the team was that now it was raining and cool outside the car was starting to begin to fog up on the windscreen. After Marks Stint, Ian got back into the car, the Rain was coming down heavier than before and the track was starting to flood at this point there had been a series of yellow flags and safety cars which had been out on track, so what was left of the grid had been bunched back up, fortunately Ian needed to go and refuel (this like Phils was seamless and quick), this then left him in a nice position on track where he wasn’t to bunched up in the wet conditions. After 30minutes Ian was struggling to see where the white lines of the track was because it was so wet and dark, and lost control putting the car into a spin, in a very uncomfortable place. At this point, Ian had had enough and began his trip round the circuit to come in. Fortunately at the same time, the Red Flag was being waved, signifying that the race was being stopped. Once Ian arrived outside the garage the team quickly pulled the car into the garage. About half an hour of the car being in the garage, the garage doors had to be shut in an emergency due to flash flooding happening in the pit lane. Before we knew it the water had now entered the garage and was up to the teams ankles, about an hour later the water outside had subsided and the teams in the garage could begin clearing out the water. Sunday began damp and drizzly, and everyone was on edge this morning, there were a few races before the T70 was due to go out, hopefully in that time the drizzling would have stopped and the other races would have helped dry the track out. Unfortunately only the drizzling had stopped in time for Phil’s 61minute race in the T70, Phil only has cut dry tyres for the T70, and so we were all a little nervous, fortunately Phil was in a safe position on grid (25th). Through out the race the drizzling began again, so we were all on edge even more, hoping that he would bring the car home safe, he did and managed to award himself a great best (wet) time using dry tyre of: 3:35.283 and finishing 39th out of 54 cars. By the time it was race two for the Tyrrell the weather was the same, so the team had opted for wet tyres. After a fantastic 5th position yesterday we unfortunately lost one place at the beginning of the race, but maintained our fastest lap time of 2:21.284, which is great considering the difference in conditions. Ian also managed to hold his first in class spot, through out the second race! Overall a fantastic weekend for all, unfortunately there was a few minor issues in the E-Type race, but all of the cars finished and great driving from all of the drivers, in all four races.

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