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TrackChaser update

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  • Vanden Eynde Roland
    Hello colleagues, Not many times do I discover an unknown temporary track less than three miles from home on my way to another venue, but that s what happened
    Message 1 of 331 , Oct 7, 2013
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      Hello colleagues,

      Not many times do I discover an unknown temporary track less than three miles from home on my way to another venue, but that's what happened on Sunday.

      Saturday, I went to see an autocross meeting on a very nice dirt course at Grandvoir (WAL). This was a two day race meeting on a track called Circuit Piquet (which has got nothing to do with the former formula one driver, but is named after the hamlet in which it's situated). On Saturday, the non contact autocross categories had three heats and on Sunday, it would be banger races. The track had a lot of gradient and was rather slippery (it had rained a lot during the previous night). The fields weren't very large, but quite varied. Because of the proximity of both France and Luxemburg, a fair number of residents of those countries participated, especially in the buggy and crosskart races. The organisation was a little sloppy and downtime between the different races was way too long. I suspect the organising club was aware of their lack of timeliness, for they announced that a grand final would be held for allcomers, if there was enough time for it. Needless to say, there was no allcomers race.

      I was already looking forward to a two track configuration event on Sunday, but less than five minutes into my journey, I spotted something that looked like an autocross track and an adjacent paddock near the hamlet of Peutie, a part of my home town Vilvoorde (VLG). I left the motorway to investigate and it turned out to be a meeting for quads, but with a few crosskart races thrown in as well. Because of the lack of safety measurements (the small grass course was only delimited by tape), the very few spectators followed the proceedings from their cars parked on the nearby motorway parking. That's where I headed for as well and about an hour into the meeting, four crosskarts lined up for their first 10 minute race. The quads had already torn up the soil and the track was too bumpy and rutted for the crosskarts. So, unlike most of the time, they were not racing two or three abreast, but trying to pick out the least rutted racing lines. Still, I had an unexpected bonus before setting off to Bassevelde (VLG) for a VRCB meeting. Had I been near the French and Luxemburg border on Saturday, this time I was only miles away from the Netherlands. As the Zeeland autocross scene has folded this year, the very skinny fields in the lowered Beetle and buggy classes were boosted by a fair number of Dutchmen, happy to race so near home for once. The track for the non contact classes was a flat course, almost panhandle shaped. It was in good condition and rather fast. But the major class of any VRCB meeting is the banger class. As usual, they put over 20 cars on a 1/10 mile oval, which made for a hectic race. Still, the winner skilfully dodged all obstacles, including three overturned vehicles, to get to the finish without any contact at all.

      After the unexpected tally of four new tracks in my native country, the next few weeks don't have much more in store. I should get another Belgian autocross in next Sunday, but if I want new tracks after that, I'll have to travel far.

      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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