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TrackChaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, I had to change my weekend plans on Thursday, because two of the three events I was planning to see in France, were cancelled at short
    Message 1 of 331 , Aug 1, 2011
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      Hello colleagues,

      I had to change my weekend plans on Thursday, because two of the three events I was planning to see in France, were cancelled at short notice. Thus, instead of getting a bit of sun south of Belgium, I went for the cold northeast of it.

      Saturday, I made another trek north to the Dutch hamlet of Hollandscheveld for a motorsport event called Katema. It consisted of tractor pulling, combined harvester races and one autocross race, at noon. It was very well attended and the sandy course was wide and had a few sharp corners on hills, designed to tip some combine harvesters over. As the autocross cars were a lot more stable, they rounded the turns well and the rather large field of small saloon cars had a good 20 minute race. As I had only a 200 mile trip to reach my Sunday target, I watched a few combine harvester heats as well and, sure enough, every one had at least two contraptions tipping over on the side.

      It wasn't long before I was on my beloved German motorways, and because I was not using those leading to mass tourism spots, I made good progress. Not that my destination was without interest, for I headed for the quaint little medieval town of Korbach. I found a room in a charming family hotel (Am Dalwigker Tor) and had a nice dinner (a Zwiebelsteak - steak with grilled onions on top). Afterwards I had a long stroll through the nicely groomed town centre, before hitting the sack. Since my return from Seattle, I tended to be wide awake at 3.00 a.m., but this time I succeeded in sleeping till 8.00 a.m.

      After another one of those splendid German breakfasts, I drove a couple of miles to Eppe, where an autocross counting for the Western German championship was to be held. Not so long ago German autocrosses drew huge fields, but these days seem to be over. There are still a lot of classes (13 in this case), but none drew more than 8 cars, albeit always nicely turned out ones. As the track was a fast, but rather wet, road course of about a third of a mile, the organisers had the excellent idea to combine several of those classes, going for only four different fields. Still, those fields were not large, but the racing was decent. Because of the small fields, heats were lengthened from 15 to 20 minutes, but the last third of each heat became rather processional. I left early to beat the heavy traffic in the Ruhrgebiet and around Antwerp.

      All in all, it was a rather disappointing race weekend. July has been an ultra successful trackchasing month for me, with no less than 19 additions to my list. If I get the same amount during the rest of 2011, I won't complain. However, I will try to go a fair bit upmarket in the weeks to come, by attending more international road course meetings. Thus, next week I plan to combine the Saturday of the Nürburgring DTM weekend (on the small track: the Querspange, which is now countable under the new road track rule) with a high class Italian meeting on Sunday at Francorchamps.

      Roland



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    • Vanden Eynde Roland
      Hello colleagues, Long before I found out trackchasing ever existed, I had a habit of going to some late season races on southern French road courses. I ve
      Message 331 of 331 , Nov 12, 2013
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        Hello colleagues,

        Long before I found out trackchasing ever existed, I had a habit of going to some late season races on southern French road courses. I've long since exhausted those new track opportunities, but still there are a few French road courses I have to visit. Last weekend I added a rather remarkable one to my portfolio.

        Why drive an entire day if a high speed train brings you there in half that time? Since I discovered the multitude of possibilities of the French high speed trains, I like to take advantage of their services whenever suitable. Unlike my two previous train travels, this time, I couldn't get round Paris, but still that wasn't such a problem. I boarded a train to Paris Nord just past 11.15 a.m. and 75 minutes later it got me to Paris. In the north station of Paris, I had 85 minutes to get to Paris Bercy station by underground. It only took me 25 minutes to do so and I had ample time to take my numbered seat on the train to Clermont-Ferrand. Another 90 minutes later I got there. I had booked a hotel (Hotel des Commerçants) only yards from the railway station. The weather was a little cold, but sunny and after a long walk I had enough of an appetite to go for an early steak dinner at a Hippopotamus. These are chain restaurants a bit reminiscent of Applebee's.

        On Saturday morning I got back to the railway station to fetch my hire car at Sixt. They gave an excellent rate and handed me a Renault Twingo with only 75 miles on the clock. Unlike in Montréal, I didn't add thousands of miles to it, as my target for the day was less than 35 miles from the town centre. The French tyre manufacturer Michelin has its roots in Clermont-Ferrand and the centrepiece of those roots is its research centre at Ladoux (Auvergne region). This complex, officially called "Centre de recherche Michelin de Ladoux", is a beauty. It's in lush green surroundings. Inside a 5 mile high speed trioval, it harbours several testing grounds for dry weather tyre testing, wet weather tyre testing, braking, etc. The dry weather testing is done on a 2770 metres long flat track with numerous corners. It is on this track that twice a year countable races are held. Last Saturday, two Porsche clubs (one local and one Swiss) held a sprint and endurance meeting. This being a tyre test track, it has neither pit lane nor specific paddock area. I had to park my hire car on a piece of concrete where trailers and cars of team members were parked. Another part of that concrete area was turned into an improvised pit lane. In the morning, they held three 20 minute sprint races for various Porsche classes, while after a two hour lunch break (although there was only a local hot dog stand to get food from), allcomers got on the track for a two hour endurance race. The twisty nature of the track made for good racing, but the track surface was rather slick and there were spins galore. But as this track was surrounded by large grassy runoff areas, no cars were severely damaged. Not being a great fan of Porsches (I like Ferraris and Maseratis better), I left halfway the endurance race and had a nice drive in the hills surrounding Clermont-Ferrand. The entire landscape consists of extinct volcanoes and it's really gorgeous. I got back into town at dusk, handed the car back in and after another nice dinner, I had a good night sleep.

        Sunday morning, I got on the train back to Paris. Just like on Friday, the journey went by smoothly. So much for my contribution to tracks in November, as the rest of the month will not involve any new trackchasing for me.

        Roland

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        Visit our website! http://www.nbb.be

        "DISCLAIMER: The content of this e-mail message should not be
        construed as binding on the part of the National Bank of Belgium
        (NBB) unless otherwise and previously stated. The opinions
        expressed in this message are solely those of the author and do not
        necessarily reflect NBB viewpoints, particularly when the content
        of this message, or part thereof, is private by nature or does not
        fall within the professional scope of its author."
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