McATTACK TRIO DOMINATE SPA WEEKEND
44 cars made the trip to Belgium to join the Belgian, French and Dutch C1’s as part of the 2CV 24 Heures.
With the race starting in glorious sunshine and 25C, it went through heavy rain, thunder and lightning and fog, before its Sunday afternoon conclusion.
The McAttack trio of Declan McDonnell, Joe Wiggin and Simon Walker-Hansell already had wins at Pembrey, Snetterton and Croft under their belt, before taking pole for the weekend’s race, over two seconds up on second best Preptech UK, with Carlito Mirraco, Cody Hill, Ryan Firth, Simon Byrne and Bill Kirkpatrick.
There was some confusion at the start, with a late announcement of split grids, which saw the UK C1’s, join the Belgian and Dutch drivers on the Grand Prix grid.
However David Watson’s Atomic Racing car was sent to the wrong grid and was forced to start from the pitlane, but was released half a lap before the rest of his grid, which showed him as the class leader for the first five laps.
The actual lead was a terrific five-car battle, with McAttack’s Walker-Hansell, Old Hat’s Daniel Bruce, Welch Motorsport’s Tommy Field, Hurricane Motorsport’s Adam Higgins and Preptech’s Mirraco.
But the safety car was soon out after Rhys Lloyd’s Amigo Motorsport car had slowed for a yellow flag at Blanchimont and was hit very hard in the rear by Faisal Bin Laden in the second Preptech car. Lloyd was taken to the medical centre and wasn’t allowed to drive again until the morning.
The changes among the lead group were many, Walker-Hansell tried to break away a few times, but Field also led with both Higgins and Mirraco inches behind.
As the end of the first hour approached, Bruce had started to lose touch with the lead quartet. “Everyone was swapping and changing in the slipstream, it was incredible. But then when we came to lap at 2CV at Blanchimont I lost the tow and had to hold off Pro-Drivers Alex Sedgwick for fifth,” said Bruce.
Overall it was Walker-Hansell from Field, Higgins and Mirraco, with Bruce fifth and Adam Burgess sixth for Team C-Tron C1, with Sedgwick and Kraken’s Stewart Linn close behind.
Most teams had planned to go just over the two hours before making their first stops, but Walker-Hansell was the first of the frontrunners to stop and hand to Wiggin. “Each time I managed to get a break, they got me back up the hills, as I am carrying a bit extra weight,” he admitted.
Mirraco had the lead, but Field had dropped to the back of the lead quartet. The first 1 ¼ hours were very good but the clutch cable broke and there was just no pull out of the corners,” he explained after dropping well down the leaderboard.
“I was just trying to keep my pace consistent, as it was so tight at the front, like being back in Fiesta’s or Mini’s again,” Mirraco added.
Three hours down and varying strategies had McAttack a lap up on the C1 Club car of William Burgess, but Hurricane ‘s Adam and Bob Higgins, were 12 secs back in third, while GMP had shot up to fourth, with Adam Lucas, Chris Astley and Matthew Jeffrey sharing the early stints.
Kraken had lost ground, dropping to 11th, while Preptech continued to run fifth, with Firth taking over from Hill for the third stint, while Cockwombles completed the top six, with Tristan Judge, Scott Lawrence and Zoltan Csabai sharing.
Into darkness it was initially fine and dry, but the weather was to take a severe turn.
Fox Motorsport had come through strongly and became McAttack’s closest challenger. After 4 hrs they were third, having started with Nick Halstead, before Graham Davidson, Andrew Perry and Daniel Quintero took over.
Preptech continued strongly too and joined McAttack and Fox in the fight for the podium, after Hurricane dropped to fourth and Cockwombles continued their progress.
There were plenty of dramas along the way and as the predicted bad weather arrived, the safety car became considerably busier.
“I got in after five hours and did a 2hr 40mins stint, but Simon go the thunder and lightning, then came the rain and the fog. But being on a different strategy, it was hard to tell who our main threats were,” said McDonnell, as McAttack completed the half way point a lap up on Cockwombles, who had Old Hat and Fox chasing them, both a further lap down, Fox having had a spell in front earlier too.
The Spy Motorsport quartet of Peter Young, Paul O’Reilly, Brent Millage and Jon Barnes made good progress in the early hours though, into fifth from C-Tron C1.
Off the leaderboard though went Hurricane, after Adam Higgins crashed heavily. “I lost the back end turning in at Pouhon, thought I had held it and it snapped the other way into the barrier at about 90mph,” he explained. Preptech had also plunged down the order, as the battle scars continued to show.
There was a catastrophe too for Old Hat. Bruce had hauled them up to second place after 13hrs, but after Callum Hutchings had taken over, he collected the pitwall on his way out and although the car was eventually repaired, they were out of contention.
For McAttack it was more self-preservation through the second half. McDonnell took over from Walker-Hansell before handing to Wiggin to bring it home. “I had been knocked off at the chicane, so we knew we had to be careful still,” said McDonnell. “I had gone through some of the worst weather around 2am, the wipers didn’t work and it was all smears. But it was so nerve wracking at the end, people wanted to play but I couldn’t take any risks,” said Wiggin after sealing victory by two laps.
Cockwombles managed to keep Fox at bay for second, but only had 10.934 secs in hand in the flag. “Zoltan handed me the car for the last stint almost out of tyres, after Tristan decided we would stay on the wets,” said Cockwombles Lawrence. “Some dodgy people hit us too,” Judge added.
“I think we could have had second. I came in early for one stop after a half spin at Pouhon, to get the tailgate shut,” said Fox’s Perry. “I have never not been on the podium when I have raced at Spa, great fun too,” Davidson added.
C-Tron C1 had been looking like podium finishers too until they were disqualified in the penultimate hour, after a flat battery necessitated a push start from the pits. One of the crew was then caught on camera stepping onto the live track and dancing.
Misty Racing had been consistent in the early hours and it paid dividends when others hit trouble. “We had no real concerns at all, and then when it said P4 with 30 minutes to go, I thought that’ll do,” said team boss Steve Kite, who brought the car home after sharing with Wayne Rockett, Matt Allen, Richard Anderson and Richard Isherwood.
Bianco Developments also came through strongly at the end for fifth, having climbed from 14th at halfway, “it could have been a lot better, but we got a drive through penalty for a driver going over his three hour maximum,” said Giles Billingsley, who shared with son Jon, Simon Cresswell and Riccardo Losselli.
Complete with broken exhaust the Pro-Drivers, Sedgwick, Katie Milner, Scott Jeffs, Andy Mollison and Cameron Davies completed the top six. “We were down on power a little with the exhaust, but we had a drive through penalty during the night,” said Davies.
Spy’s challenge had ended during Sunday morning, when a wheel broke with Barnes at the wheel, while in third place. “It was making a horrible grinding noise and then the front wheel came off,” he explained.
So in into seventh came the second Preptech car of Andy Shovel, Luke Alen-Buckley, Sam Moores, Faisal Bin Laden and Nilesh Parmar. “The car was just great, but the tyres were wrecked though,” said Parmer.
GMP’s Adam Lucas, Chris Astley, Matthew Jeffrey, Thomas Mallett, Jordan Sanders and Paul Brown were eighth, despite Lucas collecting a puncture in the early hours, a few near misses and a stop go penalty for exceeding track limits 15 times! “Not all the same driver,” added Team boss Garry Parkes.
The first of the Academy cars of Stephen Nuttall, Matt Dyer, Paul Donkin and Elliott Norris was ninth after holing the radiator in the fifth hour and in 10th came the Cock Endurance sextet of John Moon, Conrad Bos, Marcus Batty, Andrew Hinch, Adam Cunnington and Adam Norris, after picking up a penalty for one driver going over his limit.
Out of the 44 starters only two were unclassified, one of the Mission Motorsport entries and Team Green Racing.
PUBLISHED BY PETER SCHERER FOR C1 RACING CLUB, 9th OCTOBER 2018