5th-7th October 2012 - Dijon
Gt Britain 'A' (Forward, Messer and Timms) take Nations Cup victory
NATIONS CUP DIJON PRENOIS 5TH-7TH OCTOBER 2012
From a driver’s eye view of the proceedings.
Despite some evil weather on the way down, 25 cars arrived at Dijon with the majority of the regular participants, plus new comers; Louis Maulini with a beautifully prepared Merlyn Mk10 which he has owned for 20 years; Frank Lyons for his first HF3 experience in Pete Thompsons Brabham BT21; Jon Waggitt out again in Andrew Thorpe’s March 703, now resplendent in its period colours of orange with black nose band and stripe; and Mark Linstone who had worked some very long hours to get his Brabham BT21 and Clas Muller’s BT28 ready.
Many took part in some or all of the copious testing sessions which had been laid on by the organisers. Most came through with only minor issues however poor Mark Linstone Brabham BT21 had the clutch explode and Robert Retzlaff Brabham BT15 lost all compression on one cylinder. Mark as usual was up for the challenge of getting the car out for the qualifying and was loaned a clutch by Jim Chapman but needed access to a lathe to machine parts to fit, this the organisers managed to help with and Mark disappeared off for several hours and with working through the night had his and Clas Muller’s Brabhams running by first thing Saturday morning. Robert’s engine was diagnosed as a chipped valve and with help from Jeremy Bennett (Nemesis Racing who looks after Leif Bosson’s Brabham) providing the valve and Steve Wilkinson, they managed to find all the tools to do the work and with the aide of the best valve grinding paste they could find ( Solvol Autosol!) and much hard work managed to get the engine running soundly.
On the Friday evening there had been much talk about the using wet tyres for what was expected to be a track covered with overnight dew, however the day broke with superb weather and all 25 cars went out for the 08:30 qualifying on dry tyres. Unfortunately Ferdinand Gustafson, Brabham BT18, had his engine expire in big way into the braking zone for turn one and Juerg Tobler was first on the scene and had a big off on the oil. Juerg’s Chevron was badly knocked about but fortunately Juerg was fine, but facing an early trip home. Qualifying was halted whilst the damage was cleared, giving a little time for the track to warm up; fortunately the oil could easily be avoided on the run into turn one.
Qualifying ended with Roland Fischer on pole with a very quick lap, below 1:30 for the first time with an HF3, he was followed by Dean Forward having his first visit to Dijon, second fastest just under a second slower. Francois Derossi took third place followed by series newcomer Louis Maulini (Merlyn), Max Blees, Tim Kary and Keith Messer. Apart from Juerg and Ferdi there were no other serious problems for any one in Practice although Nigel Winchester had some electrical problems and Mark Linstone with some minor mechanical woes.
Race one was held in perfect conditions, there was only a breeze along the main straight slightly head on, which would effect some top gear ratios which had been chosen from the Friday test when there had been a moderate following wind. Twenty three took the full Grand Prix start and most making a good start, yours truly got it badly wrong and was swamped into the first corner. A group of four: Dean Forward, Francois Derossi, Roland Fischer and Louis Maulini, soon became detached from those following and had what all onlookers later described as a fantastic period battle with all four alternating for the lead and enjoying slipstreaming contests along the main straight. At the finish Dean Forward Brabham BT21B took the win by 0.348 second from Louis Maulini, and Roland Fischer Tecno a further 0.396 second behind ,the Chevron B17 of Francois Derossi had been dropped slightly by now and he finished 1.835 second behind the winner. Max Blees Brabham BT15 had a lonely race, as the battling Maurice Slotine (Merlyn Mk14A) and myself (recovering from the poor start) slowed one another down, letting Max escape. Towards the end of the race Stuart Tizzard Chevron B15C also joined in. Those viewing from the pit wall were ecstatic with the quality of the racing described the various battles going on through out the field. Mark Linstone retired after 4 laps.
With overnight rain Sunday dawned very damp and there was a short shower 30 minutes before the race, so all who had them fitted wet tyres; however with no more rain Dean Forward refitted his dries. So without Jon Waggitt, Geoff O’nion Tecno and Andrew Thorpe Lotus 31 all understandably deciding the very slippery track was a challenge too far without proper wets. The second race started with Jim Chapman quickly finding his way to the front; Jim’s non regulations wet tyres appeared to be giving him a marked advantage in the treacherous conditions. Behind him, the race for the points was almost as closely fought as in race one, but this time between Francois Derossi, Dean Forward, and Max Blees, enjoying the damp conditions. Roland Fischer was initially leading this battle but was hampered by a misfire, Roland had spotted some pickup on an inlet valve overnight and to avoid an expensive engine rebuild, retired on lap 8. Louis Maulini who was initially challenged by Christoph Widmer Brabham Bt18A and myself in the Vesey, took a comfortable fourth after Jim Timms joined the battle and Christoph, Jim and I slowed one another down. This struggle for 5th was eventually joined by Stuart Tizzard and with various spins this group dropped back. Stuart finally took 5th with Christoph 6th and Jim 7th. Yours truly was lucky to get 8th, with Frank Lyons was closing rapidly after I mistakenly thought that I had seen the chequered flag on the penultimate lap. Robert Retzlaff’s luck ran out with an off leaving him beached in the ‘Kitty litter’. Clas Muller also retired on the same lap though unfortunately we do not recall the reason.
Thanks mainly to Dean Forward’s two stunning drives, (dry tyre on a very damp circuit in the second race), UK Team A (Dean Forward, Jim Timms and Keith Messer) won the Nations Cup from France (Francois Derossi and Maurice Slotine) and Switzerland (Louis Maulini, Christoph Widmer and honorary Swiss, Frank Lyons )
Writing a race report from the narrow confines of the Vesey’s cockpit has not been easy, so apologies if anyone’s have been missed.
With almost perfect weather all weekend, fabulous cars and some brilliant driving, Dijon again was a great way to finish the season. Polished off with Francois Derossi taking a well deserved 2012 European Trophy.
L to R Jim Timms Brabham BT21, Dean Forward Brabham BT21B, Keith Messer Vesey