Spa March ReportAs another track day season got into full swing, the BookaTrack team had been busy preparing for the first annual trip to Spa-Francorchamps. The March Spa trip has been an important part of the BaT calendar for many years now and is always a popular way to start a new season. This year was no exception with probably our busiest event to date.
Friday 20th March saw the 22 BaT staff members and our customers make their various trips across to Belgium. Normally, those of us who fly from Manchester have an early start with a 6am flight, and we're usually asleep by early afternoon. However, this time the eight of us lucky enough to nip across the skies left our Donington Park base for East Midlands Airport at lunch time - luxury!
By 4pm everyone had started to arrive at the house we were to call home for the next few days, and the evening meal was already on the go thanks to Sally Baines (photographer/catering expert extraordinaire). After a quick catch up around the dinner table, Friday night soon became silent as everyone disappeared for an early night, ready for the first day of action.
Now a well-oiled machine, the BaT staff immediately dived into their regular roles Saturday morning. As low cloud and a bit of mist and fog covered the spectacular sight that is Eau Rouge, Clive and myself headed off through the paddock to label the garages ready for the first arrivals. Gloves were definitely needed by the end of it!
By 8.30am we headed off for the drivers briefing. With 120 drivers present it was a very busy briefing, and Jonny was faced with the task of ensuring all languages were accounted for. A few smiles at the appropriate time from the audience pointed in the direction of it being a success.
After the briefing I disappeared to find a few more layers before getting comfortable at the end of pit lane. There was a vast amount of people who were new to Spa on Saturday, meaning sighting laps were a must for the majority of drivers.
As the last of the sighting laps came to an end, Clive gave me the all important message from race control ? open pit lane was live! Before long there was certainly no shortage of cars on track, everyone eager to sample one of the most, if not the most, spectacular circuits in the world. The early morning mist had caused a damp track, meaning conditions were definitely tricky at first to say the least. As the morning progressed the weather worsened, and with visibility virtually non-existent in places the red flag was thrown.
The Spa climate is extremely unpredictable and although it was bad at this point, the sun could have been shining within a matter of minutes. So we gave it half an hour before officials and some of our instructors took to the track to review the situation. Still deemed to be unsafe, the track remained closed for a little longer. Soon, the pit lane was clear and it was hoped the rest of the circuit would follow suit, which eventually it did. Cars were allowed back on track and the day continued.
After a nice lunch, as usual provided by the BaT catering team, action resumed at 1pm. The weather continued to play its part, with rain entering the mix during the afternoon, varying from light showers to what felt like monsoon-style wind and rain at times from my spot in the pit lane. Despite the cloud, the light held on for our 6pm finish, much to our delight. A quick trip back to house to defrost and we were ready for a relaxing evening.
Before we knew it day two was upon us and we were back in the garage. Sunday saw a few less new drivers, with many of those from Saturday returning for a second chance at conquering the challenge that is Spa.
Better weather this time around meant it was a dry day, although with an icy chill in the air it was anything but warm. We were lucky enough to be treated to an afternoon of sunshine, and it was even warm enough for me to take off one of my coats at one point, but not for very long. Once again 6pm suddenly arrived and the BaT team were in the midst of packing up before heading back to the house for the final evening.
A spectacular roast dinner fed the masses Sunday evening, as the BaT team gathered around the table for good conversation and to relax once more after a busy weekend.
Monday morning saw the house gradually empty as everyone began to leave - but not before a lovely cooked breakfast, something of a luxury after the early morning starts of track days. Those of us who were flying home were the last to leave, yet another luxurious day for us, as we made the hour and a half drive back to the airport.
As I am sat here writing this this morning, we are looking back over another busy yet successful Spa trip for BaT. It was particularly busy for Chief Instructor Sarah Reader, who managed to walk 20 kilometres over the two days up and down the pit lane, a serious endurance test.
Despite a brief stoppage mid-morning on Saturday, we were in luck with the weather, especially for the time of year. I'd like to say a special thank you to all those who kept me as defrosted as possible with copious cups of tea, I was even treated to the odd biscuit and cake, certainly no complaints here. And of course a big thank you to Jonny and Sarah for organising yet another remarkable trip. The March Spa track days have officially kick started a very busy year for BaT, and we hope to see you all around the paddock soon.
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30 March 2015
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