FIA Lurani Trophy 2009 Round 1 - Spa
April is still regarded as early for some Historic races, but there was a fair field of Juniors, supplemented as usual at Spa by eight participants in the Euro F3 1000 Series and the prospect of some exciting racing ahead. In the absence of Bliss Racing till Brands Hatch, Delta Racing with Alan Baillie were the largest Equipe with Marcus Mussa in the familiar Brabham BT2, Michael Ashley-Brown’s Volpini under the careful eyes of Iain Rowley, and Richard Smeeton in his ex-Benedini 22 – with Marcus’ Modus Classic F3 getting in some pre Monaco ’10 practice. The Italian regulars were making use of Mauro Pane’s HFO transport, with Daniele Salodini in the familiar black Taraschi, but this year Patrizzia Sbardolini has exchanged the red one for the bright blue Merlyn Mk5 ex-Yves Saguato and Eric Justesen. Carlo Maria del Conte found room only for one car, so this time it was the Classic F3 Ensign recently acquired from Bob Yarwood via Len Selby, but down in the pits Franco Banfi was now looking after only Pierre Tonetti’s Brabham BT6, Alessandro Ripamonti seemingly now retired from competitive motorsport, though still to appear in the Italian “demo races”. Bruno Ferrari was there too, in the only Branca, first time at Spa.
Home team was Luc Deneve in the Lotus 18 ex-Daan de Smedt, who also arrived to see his old FJ friends on Saturday, but Michel Wanty was in the Patrick Peter Tour Auto, which visited the track on Friday morning – Thomas Duchene was also participating there, running well in his Lotus 26R, but business was not good in Paris and although he talked of a possible Dijon entry, we were later to learn over the weekend that a deal had been clinched by Christian Cane to buy the 22, having chatted to Alan Baillie about the car and its history. Although we did not see them, erstwhile Stanguellini drivers Jason Wright and Michael Gans were also absent, on Tour Auto duties.
It was good to see the Scots back again, and on fine form – John Fyda’s less satisfying performance (to himself, if no one else) had been diagnosed as unequal size wishbones, and this corrected, it had transformed the ex-Leo Geoghegan 22, while Chris Chilcott was back, running and cheerful in the 20, although not for too long as...............
There were several drivers vying for the FIA Lurani Trophy this year, in addition to Tonetti, and these could clearly be marked as John Chisholm (Gemini IIIA), and Chris Drake (Elva 300) in Class D, Brendan Roberts (Lola Mk2) in Class B and Dan Collins (Team Lotus 18) in Class D, looked after by Chris Dinnage, also present with his Lotus 20. Hans-Jørgen Krag (Lola Mk3) also looked to be a dark horse... Front engined cars were not proliferating, but Robin Longdon was back in his Mk 2 Lola, and BJ Colaric had an extended European visit to fit in this event and Brands Hatch, while Duncan had the familiar, but seemingly underpowered Alexis. Last but not least were John Dowson in his Elva 200, going faster all the time, and just enjoying it - after all, “boring” accountant to Historic Formula Junior race: what a transition!! – and Jörgen Carlsson in his Mk 3 Merlyn.
With Spa being almost impossibly expensive, the grid was made up with our friends from 1000 cc F3, with Geoffrey Rivet (Brabham BT28) and Jurg Tober (B17) up at the front. Francois Derossi had to miss timed practice, so he was to be slotted into the grid near the front rather than endanger the back markers coming through the pack. Surprise of the year, however was Ferdinand Gustafson in his Brabham BT18, the same car that he drove in period, ending in 6th slot on the grid, with Dominique Bertin (Martini MW4 F.Renault) and Maurice Slotine (Merlyn Mk14A) the other competitive runners, and the BT28 of ever improving Klaus Bergs, and the two Tecno’s of Philippe Bonny and Michel Renevand at the back, the latter missing official practice.
For the Juniors, Tonetti was in a class of his own, with John Fyda a good second and then a close call between Jens Rauschen (Lotus 22) and Marcus Mussa (Brabham BT2). Chisholm headed Drake, Roberts and Collins were close, which was to be a ...... for the future, both clear of Robin Longdon. Klaus Rauschen (Brabham BT2) was behind them, but with engine maladies developing, and with no spare water pump, that was to be it for the weekend.
The story of the weekend however, was the Ivo Göckmann saga. Ivo, with Klaus, had hired a Mercedes-Benz flat bed truck with homemade van body for the Jolus – crossing the German / Belgian border they had detected a vibration, but nothing discovered on stopping, carried on anabated, only to have a burst tyre, the whole outfit somersaulting twice, but fortunately landing on its wheels – the M.B was a write off, carted off to the scrap yard, but the Jolus, van body completely disappeared, was, incredibly, almost unscathed, and after being untied, Mair went off with Kitty and the Rabagliati trailer to retrieve it from the side of the motorway, just in time for practice – However a little welding of stressed chassis was needed, but remarkably, the Jolus was to take to the track, even if only in race 2, both driver and passenger all in one piece, albeit somewhat shaken.
Race 1 saw the two fastest F3’s out almost before the action, with Derossi parked up after Eau Rouge and Rivet out with engine maladies after one lap – but that left a terrific dice between Tonetti, Fyda, and Jurg Tobler’s F3 Chevron, which was eventually settled by less than a second for Tonetti – a superb race by John Fyda to be back up with the best of FJ. 4th place was even more dramatic with only a handkerchief separating Rauschen, Chisholm and Gustafson; Marcus Mussa was unusually back from these three, just heading Dominique Bertin, as always, so enjoying his racing, and then Slotine. Jörgen Carlsson made up the top 10 in his familiar yellow Merlyn. There were even more of the closest of dices down the field, Dan Collins beating Philipp Bonny, John Dowson not being very gentlemanly by beating our only lady Patrizia Sbardolini!! - and Michael Ashley-Brown being very thrilled to beat Duncan by 0.3 of a second.
Race 2, the following morning, was as exciting as they come: John Fyda led the first two laps, but then Tonetti got ahead, but on his fifth lap coming round Les Combes Tonetti just got it off line – and he was away, ending up with a damaged chassis. This left Fyda well placed, but it was Tobler in the B17 Chevron who led then Fyda, then Tobler, and finally Fyda for two laps and at the flag, with Tobler just 0.087s behind, and a remarkable third for Ferdinand Gustafson in the BT18, with Class D protagonists Chisholm and Drake split by Dominique Bertin’s Martini. Battles down the field included Brendan Roberts and Jörgen Carlsson, Patrizzia Sbardolini and Luc Deneve, and Michael Ashley-Brown and Duncan this time two seconds apart after Michael had spun.
Overall it was Fyda from Traber and Gustafson, with Chisholm and Mussa splitting Dominique Bertin, followed by Jens Rauschen and Bruno Ferrari.
Next week – Round 2 at the A1GP Brands Hatch, but sadly no Tonetti.