Last week saw the BaT team head to the legendary F1 circuit of Spa Francorchamps, the team¬ís second trip of three for the year. Some of us had been at the Nurburging for the previous four days running three of the fleet of R300 race cars in the BookaTrack.com Caterham Superlight R300 Championship. The July visit to Spa is the biggest event of our calendar and the one we look forward to the most. The weather was once again very kind to us with only a very light shower on the Tuesday afternoon.
This event always takes place after the Spa 24 hour race and with that comes a difficult start to the first day as we battle to get into the garages and get everything set up before sign on commences. Unfortunately this time we were to use the endurance garages due to the large number of trucks and hospitality units still up in the larger F1 garages. This was always potentially going to be the case so Jonny and Sarah took the decision to delay the start of the first day in order to give everyone the chance to get organised and in as many garages as possible. It worked well and I¬ím sure will be something to repeat next year. Being based from the endurance pit lane does have its advantages though - giving everyone a fantastic view for two days of Eau Rouge, one of the best and most challenging corners in the world.
The first of the two day event is always the busiest in terms of signing on/briefing drivers as well as driving standard issues. Over the years Jonny and Sarah have put so much hard work and effort into this event and on the day quality of the track time is the most important factor to them. In order to achieve this we have a BaT representative, Clive Walker, in race control to be our eyes and ears alongside the circuit officials and myself as chief instructor to deal with operational/driving standard issues and coordinating the instructors. This has enabled us to swiftly and accurately deal with issues whether that is as a result of a complaint from another driver or Clive picking it up on the camera system. Unfortunately for me, almost every driver I had to speak to was based at the far end of the pit lane, up the hill! I dread to think how many miles I walked over the two days.
Sadly on the Monday afternoon we had a serious incident which I am glad to say is exceptionally rare on BaT days. Two cars came together at the fastest corner on the circuit, Blanchimont. If you have driven the circuit you will be aware of the speeds involved and therefore the consequences if something goes wrong. The drivers of both cars were unhurt but the passenger Oliver Bryant who was instructing at the time was taken to hospital for checks and further tests. I¬ím very pleased to say that Olly is back in the UK and well on his way to making a full recovery. The driver of the car who hit them was removed from the event immediately and is no longer welcome at future events.
We take driving standard issues at BaT very seriously and a few other drivers were also removed from the event ensuring our usual safety standards could be maintained on Tuesday. There were only a couple of quick stoppages and a much quieter time for me with hardly any laps of the pit lane required!. The vast majority of drivers on track behaved impeccably as always and there were many smiles and great comments about the fast flowing corners. A wonderful selection of cars, both new and old, were on track and it was good to see a few of the Caterham racers coming over from the Nurburging to join us before heading home.
On a lighter note the event was a huge success with great feedback. It was fantastic to see most of our platinum members on track along with many regular customers and friends. BaT regular Martin Bett has written a concise review on Trustpilot which I think sums up the event and BaT in general pretty well.
The staff celebrated the end of Spa with a much needed BBQ at the house we were staying in. Platinum member John Gilbert and Avon tyres¬í James Weekley were in charge of the BBQ (very manly task unless you saw their dancing!) and the rest of us were in charge of drinking, the trampoline, swimming pool and the hot tub. Probably not the best of combinations resulting in multiple injuries including one to Sarah Leroux but it was a great night. Visit the BookaTrack Facebook page for the censored pictures and as for the other ones we are all praying they don¬ít see the light of day!
Thank you to all I worked with that week. Special thanks to Amy, Sandra and Jan (new to BaT and coped with the mountain of bread every day. Hope to see you back again) for keeping us all fed and watered. Finally, a huge thank you to Jonny and Sarah for putting the event together and continuing to make it a fantastic trip year after year. I¬ím looking forward to the November trip already.
See you at a BaT event soon,
Sarah (aka Spike!) Reader
Martin Bett takes his BaT-repaired Caterham back on-track. John Arnold & Colin Waston disprove the theory that all aero cars are a nuisance by once again driving with exceptional patience on both days and finally a quick glimpse of the fun & games at the BaT staff house on the Tuesday night.
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