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15325Trackchaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Oct 18, 2010
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      Hello colleagues,

      On the forum, I regularly read posts about the not always fine communication with track or race promoters. When trackchasing in Europe, I almost never contact promoters, because in the vast majority of the cases, they never answer a mail. When I look for programmes for my guests, I do contact them, to be sure they really can see the events I promise to take them to. When the Smiths came over I contacted two promoters, one for an event in France and one for an event in Belgium. The French promoter did write back, unfortunately only to tell his event had been cancelled through lack of sponsorship. The Belgian promoter, Robin Van Hoovels, never wrote back, but last Tuesday, I received a mail from him, alerting me to an event I was totally unaware of. During the supermoto event at Namur (capital of the Wallonie region), there would be a Saturday devoted to crosskart races on the supermoto track (this is a competition with cross bikes on road tyres driving on a course half paved and half dirt). In this case the dirt would be shale, according to the message.

      It had rained heavily on Friday evening, but Saturday was a bit drier, with just an occasional shower. I arrived early for the 9.30 a.m. start and I seemed to be one of the few spectators not being there as part of a team. The track, called the Circuit Supermoto de la Citadelle de Namur, was indeed half tarmac and half shale. It was rather fast, with two jumps and it was in a natural bowl on this rocky hill overlooking the city of Namur. In the early nineties, I had seen a hill climb at this spot, partly on the same cobblestones that were part of the fifties street track on this citadel. Due to very good contacts with some French drivers there was a vast field of over 30 crosskarts (of which only 8 were driven by locals). They would drive three 20 minute races between 9.30 and noon. The track was splendidly suited to these nimble cars. They were invented for autocross tracks, but the person who had the idea to let them drive on paved tracks must have had a stroke of genius. They are the best category one could see on a paved track: fast, sliding all the time and allowing super close racing. They deserve far better publicity and far more races on tarmac.

      At noon, I got back to my original weekend plan, which called for a rallycross at Dreux and an enduro autocross near Péronne, both in France. Because there is a general strike in France and most oil refineries are blocked, I took on a full thank before crossing into France. The advantage of petrol being scarce was that the usual traffic congestion in the greater Paris area was far less than usual. I was on the N12 to Dreux in no time. The rallycross track is situated in the Boys Guyon complex, but this particular track is called Circuit de l'Ouest Parisien. It's mainly flat and quite fast. Because it had rained in Western France as well, the dirt sections were a little muddy. Rallycross is popular in France and all four divisions had large fields. Therefore, they start their meetings late on Saturday afternoon and I arrived at 4.30 a.m., half an hour after the start. They start with the small cars first, so I didn't miss very much. The races were good, but the wet dirt made passing not very likely, unless someone made a driving error. There were a few of those and by the time the 4WD division was in play, the dirt sections had dried out a bit, making the racing more spectacular.

      I stayed at the local Etap Hotel and had a nice beef dinner at the Courtepaille grill, both being chains I regularly go to. Sunday was bright and sunny, yet very cold. Again, the drive round Paris was easy (French people like to sleep in on Sundays anyway). I arrived at Flaucourt, near the city of Péronne, well ahead of the noon starting time for the 6 Heures de Santerre, an off road enduro for not only standard and modified 4WD cars, but also for real off road prototypes of the Paris-Dakar variety. France is the only country to have such a championship and although the field was not very large at 27 cars, there was a lot of variety in the paddock. In fact, this can best be described as an off road version of the ALMS, with cars being driven by two or three drivers on a rather long track. Picardie being a flat and fertile region, the track was in the fields. It contained a very, very long straight (at least a mile long), a few visible 90% turns and a section in a wooded area, which wasn't visible from the spectator enclosures. The surface was hard sand and considering the recent rains, it was in excellent condition. The track's length wasn't mentioned, but it was several miles long. The straight was also quite large. The entire field had a rolling start, but soon it became a bit strung out. There was a constant ballet in the paddock, for like any long distance autocross track, there wasn't a proper pit lane. I stayed for about three hours, but by then, I was feeling very cold and needed the warmth of my car to get my temperature up again. The drive back home went smoothly.

      Next week, there's absolutely nothing on my programme. I guess it's going to be a weekend off for my trackchasing, before another North American foray the next two weekends.


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