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TrackChaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, After a week of almost continuous rain, the weather cleared on Saturday evening and Sunday morning was crisp and bright. However, good
    Message 1 of 331 , Sep 17, 2013
      Hello colleagues,

      After a week of almost continuous rain, the weather cleared on Saturday evening and Sunday morning was crisp and bright. However, good footgear and an old pair of jeans were needed to cope with the mud on both my Belgian autocrosses.

      The first one was a little less than an hour from home at Villers l'Eveque (WAL). It was another meeting of the enduro championship that only started its season early August. They used to have a race in the French speaking part of the country at Crisnée. And that meeting was so popular the organising club decided to double it up with a brand new one on a very nice undulating course at the nearby village of Villers l'Eveque. The turnout was huge and the two one hour races for touring cars each had over 50 participants. It was a nice track, but the clay soil was very slippery. That made the races look more like ice races than autocross ones. Still, the slipping and sliding didn't prevent the drivers to race close and hard. They also started very early with the first race at 9.30 a.m. and got the second one started only 15 minutes after the first one finished. During that time they even reprepared the track. Out of all Belgian autocrosses I've attended during the last two years, this was the best organised one.

      At noon, I drove the 20 miles to the Europokal races at Zoutleeuw (VLG). I had seen an autocross in Zoutleeuw in 2004, but the Europokal tracks have to be wider and longer than most other tracks and thus this one was a few miles out of town near a wooded area. It was a flat and fast sandy course with good viewing amenities. Unfortunately, the Europokal isn't what it used to be when the Smiths saw their Dutch race a few years ago. The fields were far smaller than those of my morning event, but at least the Europokal still caters mainly for lowered Beetle chassis and buggies. The fields may have been small; the racing was of good quality. Still, I fear this series will last not much longer, because keeping spectators entertained during two full days of racing with such small fields is simply not possible. I saw the finals, but another spectator told me that in some heats, there were only four or five cars. On top of that, this year the Europokal organisers ran into the same problems as the enduro one. They too only finalised their 2013 schedule in July and for the second year in a row there were no German races included in the series. With the Dutch national championship thriving and many Belgian buggy drivers participating in it, there just isn't any real need for Europokal events.

      Next week, I'm going for a small Dutch autocross on Saturday and a Belgian one on Sunday, before spending the following weekend in England watching some racing on asphalt road courses.

      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
        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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