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15th-17th June 2012 - Spa

Tobler and Derossi share the honours at Spa

 Historic Formula 3 Race

Spa Summer Classic 15, 16, 17 June 2012 

The first Historic F3 race promotion attracted an entry of twenty two F3s to share the grid with twenty nine cars from Formula Ford Historic France; sadly Dave Methley was forced to scratch after his workshop was flooded and more rain forecast, and engine problems in testing obliged Andrea Delea to return home early.

Friday afternoon’s qualifying session saw Francois Derossi in superb form, his best lap of 2.50.175 being a second and a half clear of Fischer and Gustafson who were both closely matched at 2.51.563 and 2.51.907 respectively. Tobler and Kary were in the 2.54s ahead of Rivet (Vincent), Messer, Tizzard and Spa debutant Forward who were all in the mid 2.55s. Slotine in his immaculate Merlyn rounded out the top ten, with Jim Chapman and Ian Bankhurst a further couple of seconds back; Widmer (Brabham BT18) and Bosson (Brabham BT28) were comfortably clear of Bergs who in turn was well clear of a bunch consisting of Poponcini, Retzlaff and Froude. Poponcini in the sole Class A car was going well ahead of Retzlaff who was having his first outing after his Nurburgring adventures. Rounding off the grid were messrs Miller and Muller. No major problems, apart from a few spins, were reported, although Ferdinand Gustafson was lacking a rev counter which defied the best efforts of mechanic Reine, whilst Jim Chapman had clutch operation problems. The Bosson family provided welcome refreshments after qualifying.

We were greeted by a grey and wet Spa on Saturday morning, and those who had them had no hesitation in fitting wets, whilst the rest prayed and softened suspension settings. To alleviate gridding problems, both the F3s and Formula Fords were lined up in the pit lane, but there was still confusion toward the rear of the grid as they set off on the green flag lap. The field disappeared into La Source in a huge cloud of spray re-appearing three and a half minutes later with Derossi leading the F3s from Fischer and Gustafson, Tobler, Tizzard and Forward were battling hard just ahead of Widmer, Bosson, Slotine and Messer who was struggling without ‘wets’. The third lap saw the loss of Nigel Miller who had a monumental spin exiting Blanchimont and he was extremely lucky to just kiss the barriers; he returned to the pits after the race with large amounts of Belgium covering the Brabham and a tweak to the rear suspension. Jim Chapman retired the Lotus 59 with an inoperative clutch, and by lap five Rivet had retired his Brabham BT28 with an incurable misfire. Fischer was pressing Derossi hard with Gustafson holding third but they were all coming under pressure from Tobler and Forward who had escaped from Tizzard’s clutches, Bankhurst was making excellent progress in the Alexis on his way to an eventual sixth place. Poponcini arrived for a damage check having collected an errant Formula Ford in the spray, but continued; Derossi arrived all on his own, Fischer having spun and dropped back, and it Tobler who was now through to second place and giving chase; third was being disputed by Gustafson and Forward, but a quick spin by the Swede gave third to Forward. Retzlaff and Messer both had spins which dropped them back behind Slotine, whilst Tim Kary had dropped back with bad wheel vibration after his excellent qualifying position to head a group with Bergs, Froude, Muller and Poponcini.

Tobler took the lead on the last lap and just edged Derossi for the victory, third was Forward who had driven a well judged race ahead of the Gustafson; a disappointed Fischer took fifth with a slow puncture, Bankhurst took sixth just clear of Tizzard, with Bosson, Widmer and Slotine rounding off the top ten. The organisers missed catching Dean Forward for the podium ceremony, but grabbed a bemused Peter Froude instead; at least Dean received his trophy and bubbly eventually. 

Sunday was blessed with sun and a dry track, Nigel Miller had withdrawn from the proceedings with tweaked suspension, Jim Chapman had an operating clutch and everyone was on dry tyres. Once more the cars were assembled in the pit lane and once more there was confusion at the rear of the grid; Derossi made a superb start and was well clear of Tobler and a fast starting Fischer and Gustafson, sadly we lost Ferdi on lap two with mechanical problems. Bergs arrived at the pits stuck in second, but eventually this was sorted and he rejoined, meanwhile Fischer had hauled in Derossi and we were being treated to superb battle between these old rivals, good clean racing at its best. Sadly Fisher pulled in with a misfire on the sixth lap and was obliged to retire for good on the eighth lap, Dean Forward had pulled off on the fourth lap with mechanical noises, and at the same time we lost Retzlaff and Tizzard. Messer had pitted with a loose carburettor which was re-attached only for his oil pressure to drop. All this drama left Derossi out on his own ahead of Tobler and Rivet who had been going really well, Kary had found his speed once more but was passed by Bankhurst who might well have taken third from Rivet but for a quick spin at La Source on the eighth lap. Bosson and Widmer had been having a private battle and were well clear of the final runners; Jim Chapman had his engine seize crossing the line at the end of the eighth lap but was classified ahead of Poponcini, Froude, Fischer, Bergs and Slotine who had had a long stop earlier. Derossi’s victory was well deserved, just a shame that the battle with Fischer was cut short. I can recommend the video of the race to be found on the F3 Historic web site.

Two more excellent races in varying conditions; next we have Croft in August and we look forward to two more exciting races, which will be purely for our cars

View Results and Timings (as a PDF document) [PDF]