A Very Wet Spa Francorchamps

Friday 12th November:
@NoisyPaul arrived at 06.00am and after quietly placing Miss Daisy into the trailer, it was off to Spa for the weekend. The drive down to Folkstone was fine and indeed the crossing and onward to Spa. The early crossing was welcomed as we missed the Brussels Friday afternoon rush hour and ended up in Spa around 3.00pm local. Entering Spa it started to rain and after checking no-one was already at the circuit, we checked into Hotel de la Source and hit the gym for an hour. We needed to get @NoisyPaul to his hotel and a little dinner so unhitched the trailer and off we went. One thing for sure, it was certainly ‘chucking it down’ by now.

Saturday 13th November:
Opening the curtains I could see the rain bouncing off the tarmac outside and today was going to be wet. Luckily I had brought two pairs of gloves, boots and shower attire and after breakfast, hitched the trailer again and onward to the circuit. This was going to be a wet one and few minutes after I arrived and in the middle of offloading Miss Daisy, the others arrived. Joking around, the comments quickly turned to how wet I would get.

I think it was a couple of hours before I was happy to venture out as the rain was torrential, my memories being that in similar weather last year both the R50o and I had an off Raidillion. Over dinner the night before I was being advised that I should welcome wet weather and feel how the car performs while on the other, comments that the Academy tyres are nicknamed ‘Widow Makers’ did not inspire confidence. Nonetheless I felt I had to go out and see for myself and gingerly took Miss Daisy out for the first time.

The first thing to hit me was, I simply could not see. At first I thought the windscreen wipers were not working correctly but it became apparent quite quickly that the spray was inside of the screen. Luckily I had driven Spa before and had a good idea where the circuit went, but trying to judge breaking zones and turning in points was a little hit and miss with so much water on track and the ‘Widow Maker’ tyres on my mind! This was not aided by the fact that the side mirrors were too high and it was difficult to find the apex. I was told to stay off the racing line and below is this first venture out on track. Apologies for the ‘fish eye’ look, this was just a lens cover to keep the rain off. I did venture out another half a dozen times that day, again respectful of the circuit and the wetness, not fortunate to all mind you as there were at least three offs and circuit closures.

Sunday 14th November:
I didn’t have to turn up for the briefing this morning as we attended yesterday, so it was a later arrival to the circuit this morning. There was blue tints in the sky and although the circuit was wet, it was not raining. Someone commented that the Saturday was the wettest day in Belgium for the last 50 years. Confident that this was going to be a better day, I was eager to get on track again and certainly for the morning, the circuit was drying in places and confidence grew as by now I had moved down the mirrors and could see through corners. However and after lunch, the heavens opened again and for the rest of the afternoon, the wetness of the circuit was similar to the day before. I recall there were half a dozen offs throughout the day and below is the penultimate lap. Again in ‘fish eye’ view, camera placed behind windscreen to stop rain drops on lens and gives a certain perspective. Watch out for the wheels locking under breaking at La Source a few minutes from the end.

Both @NoisyPaul and I drove back towards Calais at the end of the day, stopping off at Aalter for the night. It seemed easier to stay the night and get an earlier crossing on the Monday to again miss the Brussels rush hour and the dreaded M25 in Blighty too.

Monday 15th November
We made good time to Calais, albeit a little late. My head was not that good after falling off the wagon with a few Kwak beers, the night before. A rather delightful 8.4% ABV Belgium beer that boasts a “mâché de nougat” undertone (chewed nougat) and served chillingly cold and served in a brilliant ‘yard of ale’ glass. Alas, after stopping off at Cite Europe we checked in at 11.18am, just 2 minutes from the 11.20am deadline and managed to grab 800 B&H for @CleanerDarren before setting off across the channel. A great few days and although wet, it was a great experience for Miss Daisy and I.