Robert Bar­rie re­ports on the first two rounds at Spa and Di­jon

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words: Robert Bar­rie Pho­tos: Jayson Fong/2-litre Cup

Prob­a­bly the most ex­cit­ing news of 2017 was the an­nounce­ment by Peter Auto of the new race series for pre-ʼ66 SWB 911s, dubbed the 2-litre Cup. Our own Robert Bar­rie – him­self shar­ing a drive in the first event – re­ports on the first two rounds, held at Spa and Di­jon

The or­gan­is­ers of the 2-Litre Cup for pre-66 FIAspec early 911s say the new series is all about hav­ing fun. Re­ally? I reckon itʼs quite se­ri­ous and quite competitive. Itʼs fun al­right, but itʼs also proper rac­ing and ab­so­lutely bril­liant as a re­sult. The first round took place at Peter Au­toʼs Spa Clas­sic meet­ing in May. No fewer than forty cars en­tered with a mix of solo driv­ers and two-driver crews. Free prac­tice was late on Fri­day, qual­i­fy­ing was on Satur­day and the race – sched­uled for ninety min­utes – was last thing on Sun­day.

Free prac­tice would nor­mally be an op­por­tu­nity for cir­cuit fa­mil­iari­sa­tion and fi­nal set-up. Not this time. Some of the com­peti­tors had been at the cir­cuit for days. The ses­sion was full-on and flat-out. The tone was set. The usual sus­pects duly put them­selves at the sharp end in qual­i­fy­ing. In the race it­self, the early laps saw the lead swap be­tween Olly Bryant, start­ing from pole in the sil­ver car he shares with An­drew Smith, Nigel Green­sall in David Hux­leyʼs Bru­mos-liv­er­ied car and Pas­cal Pan­de­laar in Michiel van Dui­jvendi­jkʼs car.

It was im­pres­sive stuff. There was less than a sec­ond be­tween them in qual­i­fy­ing – hardly any­thing when a lap lasts a lit­tle over three min­utes. As the race con­tin­ued, Green­sall took the lead with Bryant and Pan­de­laar close be­hind. Then, shortly af­ter the mid-race round of pit stops and driver changes, the cir­cuit got up to its old tricks. The un­bro­ken sun­shine gave way to a hail­storm. A heavy one.

A safety car went out to check on con­di­tions only to be fol­lowed a few laps later by a red flag. The race was over, hav­ing run a lit­tle be­yond the hour mark. In the fi­nal few laps, An­drew Smith took the lead from Hux­ley, and Mark and James Batesʼ red-striped light ivory car took third from van Dui­jvendijk. It was a typ­i­cally Spa-es­que end­ing and, as we um­brel­laʼd our way back to the pad­dock, we all agreed we must do it again. Most of us did. The sec­ond round of the series was at the Grand Prix de lʼage dʼor meet­ing in Di­jon less than a month later.

There were thirty cars at Di­jon. A mix­ture of at­tri­tion and al­ter­na­tive at­trac­tions cut the numbers, but it did­nʼt af­fect the rac­ing. Di­jon is shorter than Spa – the lap is just over half as long – so the ac­tion was ev­ery bit as close. This time free prac­tice was early on Satur­day morn­ing, qual­i­fy­ing was on Satur­day af­ter­noon and the race – sched­uled for ninety min­utes again – was last thing on Sun­day once more. Hmm. Who do I speak to about the timetable? I should also say that the thirty minute-long free prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing ses­sions are a lit­tle on the light side – par­tic­u­larly for a two-driver crew at a cir­cuit such as Spa. Those are small ob­ser­va­tions that can be ad­dressed next sea­son.

Mean­while, back at Di­jon, Olly Bryant put the sil­ver car on pole again – this time he was ahead of the Bates car and Tech9ʼs Phil Hind­ley solo-driv­ing an­other light ivory car. The mid­field was packed with ten cars within a sec­ond of each other. The race pro­duced an­other win for Bryant and Smith who, pit stops and driver changes aside, led more or less ev­ery lap. They are an im­pres­sively quick pair of driv­ers in an im­pres­sively quick car. Hind­ley was sec­ond and Martin Oʼ­con­nell solo-driv­ing Sandy Wat­sonʼs car was third.

The race also ended with a red flag as an er­rant late-braker got stuck in the gravel be­yond the first turn and ended the pro­ceed­ings five min­utes early. Itʼs not hard to see how it hap­pens – the cars are do­ing 200kph at the end of the long straight be­fore brak­ing hard and turn­ing into the long dou­ble righthander. Miss your brak­ing point and it all gets a bit messy. Ask me how I know!

As a foot­note, An­drew Smith fin­ished the Mo­dena Cento Ore and drove his 3.0-litre RS from the event straight to Di­jon in time for the race. The Mont Blanc tun­nel was shut so he went the long way and ar­rived just as the rest of us were in the col­lect­ing area. It was all very old-school cool, though it pains me some­what to ad­mit it.

The new series looks to be off to a good start. The grids have been strong with close rac­ing up and down the field, and re­mark­ably lit­tle con­tact. Iʼd like to think there is a re­spect for the cars and for each other that mod­er­ates the ex­cesses oc­ca­sion­ally seen else­where.

For those that donʼt quite get the joke, driv­ers held re­spon­si­ble for dam­age to an­other car can be re­quired to make a con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the cost of its re­pair. On the other hand, the at­tri­tion rate has been slightly higher than I might have ex­pected. They have been hot and hard races – un­til the hail­storm – and that has taken its toll.


For those that care about these things – and we all do to some ex­tent – el­i­gi­bil­ity check­ing has been ev­i­dent. En­gine ca­pac­ity, track width and sus­pen­sion com­po­nents have all been looked at on the lead­ing cars. They have com­plied more or less with­out ex­cep­tion. The rest of us have taken note. On-track dis­ci­pline has been en­forced by race con­trol. A hand­ful of cars have at­tracted penal­ties in each race, rang­ing from the ad­di­tion of time to the de­duc­tion of laps for con­tra­ven­ing pit stop reg­u­la­tions in some cases and ex­ceed­ing track lim­its in oth­ers. There was also a penalty for an over-op­ti­mistic jump-start at Di­jon.

So, what of our own ef­forts so far? I have been for­tu­nate to share the car we ran in the Spa Six Hours last year with its owner again. He re­ally is very pa­tient! We had good pace at Spa and Di­jon, with top ten-match­ing times and speeds at var­i­ous points dur­ing both week­ends, but we have not qual­i­fied as well as we could. It mat­ters be­cause a ninety- minute race is not a full en­durance dis­tance and be­cause the cars are so closely matched. It takes a lot of time – time we donʼt have – to pass the car in front when it is so sim­i­lar.

I could say we over­took more cars than any­one else at Spa and as many as any­one else at Di­jon. Itʼs true, as it hap­pens, and we thor­oughly en­joyed it, but itʼs only the same thing as say­ing we qual­i­fied badly at both. We must try to do bet­ter at the third and fi­nal round at the 10,000 Tours de Castel­let meet­ing at Paul Ri­card at the start of Septem­ber.

In the mean­time, a num­ber of the cars and driv­ers from the series will line up for a one-off sev­en­ti­eth birth­day race for pre-1973 Porsches at the Le Mans Clas­sic meet­ing in July. Frus­trat­ingly, itʼs a sin­gle-driver race of just un­der an hour ʼs du­ra­tion, so I will be re­duced to cheer­ing from the side­lines. Never mind, there are worse places to be and it will give me more time to work out how to pro­duce that de­mon qual­i­fy­ing lap at Paul Ri­card. Itʼs all great fun, but itʼs also great rac­ing. CP

Left: The mid­field pack early in the race at Di­jon. The series makes for a colour­ful sight! Spainʼs Olivier Tancogne (#98) leads the wayRight: Podium at Di­jon, with Phil Hind­ley (sec­ond), Olly Bryant and An­drew Smith (first) and Martin Oʼ­con­nell (third)

Above: The His­torikapre­pared car of Olly Bryant and An­drew Smith at speed at Di­jon, where the pair fin­ished first over­all

Be­low left: The left-han­der that leads into the Parabol­ica at Di­jon, with #167 Sandy Wat­son/martin Oʼ­con­nell

Be­low: Busy assem­bly area at Spa, a pe­riod of calm be­fore the hail storm which brought the race to a pre­ma­ture end

Be­low: San­jay Tal­war and Adam Daw­son shared San­jayʼs 911 at Spa

Above right: David Hux­ley at the wheel of Nigel Green­shal­lʼs Bru­mos-in­spired car at Spa

Above left: Spa lived up to its rep­u­ta­tion, with a down­pour and hail storm bring­ing pro­ceed­ings to an early end

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