Whilst the cast is different, the idea remains the same – Compete at as many of the European iconic circuits as possible, in one of the few truly international classes we run in Australia – FORMULA JUNIOR.
This time its Don Thallon, Peter Strauss and your second rate correspondent, Kim Shearn. Peter arrived early and ran at a very wet Cadwell Park, then travelled to Vallelunga near Rome, courtesy of a Mercedes van carrying his BT6 and capably escorted by no less than retired General Bob Birrell. Pete achieved a second and an “off” in Italy and was well chuffed by the time he reached Pau for the non-championship meeting on 5/6 May.
Both Kim and Don had issues with late arriving ships and had to dash South to Pau to ensure they made it for practice and qualifying on Saturday. Whilst Kim had been shivering in a caravan park in North of England, Don and the lovely Jeanette were ensconced in their Chateau in Normandy!
Dry conditions mostly prevailed on Saturday, but this didn't stop Don from complaining about the oil over the track until he discovered it was him! His catch tank overflowed and sprayed oil on the racing line for several laps. He tried again in Qualy, but ran the bearings – so much for another new motor ready to go. Kim Quallied 7th, Peter an excellent 4th out of 20 competitors.
The town held a tremendous reception at the Casino that evening with lots of local food and wine producers showing off their fare – along with all the FJ people, the welcoming was great. As always, Duncan Rabagliati and his wife Mair ensure you have everything you need and are most inclusive. On return to our camp in the pits, Don's annex had collapsed, Kim's power was off, and poor Strauss had to open his own hotel door when the doorman went to tea! Some of us do it tough.
Sunday was bright and sunny and Don decided not to replace the engine until the cause was known, so he started packing up. Race one got under way and Pete and Kim both started well. Pete had a small off and this allowed Kim and others through. Final result – Kim 4th, Peter 7th. Kim was seen genuflecting to some weird God in thanks for getting this far without a mechanical problem.
Race 2 was also fine weather but Peter dropped a drive shaft on the start line so DNS'd. Kim had a great tussle with a 1000cc Screamer BT21 all race long (30 Minutes) and managed to prevail to again finish 4th. What a fantastic weekend. The track is one of the oldest in Europe and is where the term Grand Prix was first used. Lots of elevation and some really quick corners along with the tight stuff – no run-off anywhere though. Steffan Rey, the local Doctor won both races in a Lola and in fact has won here every year for some time – a really good guy, but bloody hard to beat!
Don, before Jan and Laurie Bennett arrive at his Chateau, will go to the UK to repair his engine, Strauss is flying home first class to inspect his empire and I will visit some friends in the South of France, near Carcassonne – some life huh?
Next stop SILVERSTONE in two weeks time