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TrackChaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, August seems to be cancellation month in my part of the world. This weekend, I was planning to go to two Belgian autocrosses, but I had to
    Message 1 of 331 , Aug 27, 2013
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      Hello colleagues,

      August seems to be cancellation month in my part of the world. This weekend, I was planning to go to two Belgian autocrosses, but I had to change my plans when one of them was cancelled. I first opted for a long Saturday in Germany, with a 6 hour race on the Nürburging Nordschleife (my yearly trip to one of this endurance series' races) followed by an evening autocross about two hours more to the south. But then the German autocross got cancelled as well. It didn't suit me all that bad though, as I could enjoy the entire 6 hour race, albeit the last two hours well sheltered in a covered grandstand, because wind and rain manifested themselves in abundance. Anyway, the highlight of such meetings is always to be able to walk on the starting grid. The only negative point is that this now is so well known that hundreds of other spectators also walk around, many of them unaware that cars pass in between them en route to their grid slot. I can only hope there will be no accidents, otherwise this rare privilege might be lost. The first half of the race was very spectacular, but long pit stops of the Audi's and Porsche's gave the regular Mercedes SLS a four minute lead (that's almost half a lap of this 16 mile track) in the second part of the race.

      Sunday, I went to another local autocross enduro, this time in Sint Catharina Hauthem (VLG), near the city of Tienen. The weather forecast was clouds and rain, but it turned out sunny, if a little windy. The track was a twisty clay course, which didn't really allow for close racing. The fields in all but the buggy class were large, but a tad uneven in quality. As my other new track opportunities in Belgium are few and far between, this group will account for most of my possible additions later this year.

      I'm still undecided about my programme for next weekend. I could go to Hallum in the Netherlands for a large BRISCA flavoured meeting, but I also have the possibility of seeing three new tracks in North-western France. As Aline is a bit more mobile with her new ankle cast, I might opt for a weekend in France.

      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

        -----------------------------------------
        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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