It was an eventful race for the IMSD Racing team in the 10 hour race held at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. The team arrived with high hopes of a solid result and to establish their already impressive form in 2004.
The race weekend was held in perfect weather conditions. Warm and sunny weather was a welcome surprise after the pre-race reports of rain. The two IMSD Racing regulars, Ian Miller and Stephen Deuchar, were joined by Eddie Hall and Ian Wilson (who raced with Stephen and Eddie at Glan-Y-Gors last season).
The running order for the first day was Deuchar, Hall, Miller and Wilson. All four drivers had good runs in the one hour open practice on the fast, demanding Belgian track. The session wasn’t without incident, however. Eddie had a big off trying to avoid two spinning karts on the fast infield section and they then had to start the race in a spare kart after the throttle cable snapped during Ian Miller’s run.
Despite the kart change, Deuchar did a brilliant job in the “super-pole” qualifying (ala F1 style) to qualify 15th in the 33 kart field.
Controversy reigned at the start, however. After making a strategic stop on lap 2 (a minimum of 13 had to be made each day), Deuchar came out just ahead of the lead battle. Contact was made with Essex TT driver (and eventual - and well deserved winners – of the event) Trevor Randall, which resulted in a 30 second stop and go penalty for the team.
When Deuchar came in for the first changeover, he complained of a lack of top-end. This meant that they struggled with overall speed on the mostly flat out circuit. Despite this, all for drivers drove brilliantly and still managed to claw their way up to challenge the top 10.
All four drivers said that they would easily have finished in the top 10 had it not been for the engine, as it was they still finished a respectable 14th.
Sunday also welcomed the drivers with brilliant warm sunshine. The running order for the second day was Ian Miller, Stephen Deuchar, Ian Wilson and Eddie Hall. They managed to get a kart change before practice, which solved their engine problems.
After the one hour open practice, Eddie was nominated to qualify after setting a time of 52.1. He put in a time of 52.4 in the super-pole, which was good enough for 10th on the grid in the now 35 kart field.
“I did mess up the hairpin and the last two corners on my hot lap, which I’m sure lost us at least two tenths of a second”.
As it was, this turned out to be the highest point of the day. Miller started the race but an early trip across the gravel trap meant that they had to pit early to have the kart checked over. All drivers complained of “loose” handling at the front end. A spin from Wilson and Hall were to follow and another controversial 30 second stop and go penalty when Hall was punted off at turn 1 and collected another driver just compounded the day!
“It is annoying how we get two penalties for things that weren’t really our fault but drivers like Luigi Mazza can drive the wrong way down the pitlane and the stewards just turn a blind eye…” were the sentiments shared by everyone afterwards.
The final blow to the day came when Wilson crashed at the flat out turn 1, trying to avoid a spinning driver and bent the real axel. Despite a 5 minute pitstop to fix the damage, the quartet still managed to put in a strong showing, laps of 51.94 and 51.93 were achieved by Deuchar and Hall respectively.
At the end of a long race, Hall eventually took the chequered flag in 23rd place (although they were promoted a couple of places up after a couple of teams were disqualified for being underweight).
The final position for the team on aggregate was an impressive 16th. All four drivers agreed that without the “excitement” they easily had the pace to be in the top 10 on both days.
“The entire team did a fantastic job. We all gelled as a team and worked really well together. It was simply down to bad luck that we didn’t finish in the top 10.
“A mention must also go to Essex TT drivers Randall, McCullough and Yeomans for a brilliant display to win the event. Trevor Randall also gave came up with the title for the news headline!”