Even the colour of the Nogaro skies couldn’t dampen the competitor’s enthusiasm. Brand new engines for some, new tuning for others, without forgetting the pleasure of meeting again for the first 2012 Classic Endurance Racing appointment.
Saturday - The practices: Driving in the rain!Sulky, even rainy skies, for this first day dedicated to the practices during which the participants gave all they had.Early morning: first free practice session – Considering the wet tarmac, some chose to watch their challengers from the trackside instead of driving themselves. They could note that prudence was the keyword for a rather quiet session. Best times for podium regulars: Sandy Watson on his Chevron B16 and Michel Quiniou who came out “just to see what was on” with his Lola T280 recently completed after major winter works. A good start with a fourth best time for C.E.R “rookie” Nicolas d’Ieteren. On the other hand, unlucky, the Belleteste family had to give up without any track laps, due to their splendid TOJ engine’s breakdown. Too bad!
Lunchtime: first qualification session- At the start, “slippery” is the name of the game! The choice of tyres was a determining factor to achieve good times. After the track dried, many drivers made a pit stop to pick up slicks and as a result, collected the best lap times for the start on Monday.
Early evening: second and third sessions during which the weather conditions once again modified the usual hierarchy. Another race took place in the stands with ultra-fast changes.
Martin O’Connell and Frédéric Da Rocha with good times achieved during the first session, chose to stay safely in the stands, sure of a first and second place on the starting grid. Naturally, in the lead, Yves Scemama, Michel Quiniou, Dominique Guenat used to honorary places. In GT1 the Michel Lecourt/Raymond Narac crew sign a remarkable entry in the Classic Endurance Racing family by making the best time in the category with their Porsche 911 RSR 3L.
Monday – the race: the sky, the sun and the track…As if to reward the drivers on this Easter Monday, the sun shone and promised a rainless race. In front of an impatient crowd (38 000 spectators) the 31 cars still in the race set off for their first round. Martin O’Connell quickly takes the advantage and distances his pursuers who will fight fiercely during the hour long race. During the first laps, the drop-outs of Claude Le Jean on Chevron B36 (engine problems) and Lucien Rossiaud (gearbox). In Proto 1, Pierre-Alain France draws ahead but behind him, the places are ferociously fought over tocomplete this category’s podium. Manuel Monteiro behind the wheel of his B16 resists the assaults of Alberto Francioni (Lola T70), Sandy Watson (Chevron B19) and Stéphane Gutzwiller (Chevron B16). The latter, while in second position of his class, is inflicted with a black flag for non respect of a "Drive Through" and sees his efforts ruined by this mistake. In GT2, despite an impressive start, the accelerating cable of John of B’s BBLM failed, leaving the way open to the Porsches 935 of J-M Merlin and N. D’Ieteren. In GT1 the Lecourt/Narac team confirms it’s supremacy on the south western circuit with a perfect race. Bernard Moreau was spectacular in front of Claude Nahum on GT40 and the Orjuela brothers also on Porsche RSR.
After a much disputed race, Martin O’Connell and Frederic Da Rocha are on the first steps of the podium. The third place is finally kept by Dominique Guenat on Lola T286 who resisted the heavy pressure of Patrice Lafargue and Michel Quiniou.
During the prize giving in the Motul hospitality, the faces are tired but the smiles are brilliant, just like the sky which kept its word. Everyone is looking forward to the Spa Classic for another exciting race on the Ardennes Toboggan!