340R's go to Spa (29 & 30 April 2002)
by Peter Crook
Following an excellent day at Spa in 2001 it seemed a logical idea to encourage other 340R owners to attend a 2 day event at this excellent venue in 2002.
Having publicized the event via the 340R owners E Group , five intrepid owners found themselves traveling over to Belgium at the bank holiday weekend hopeful of some decent track time in the company of like minded enthusiasts.
Needless to say the 200 miles drive from Calais was accompanied by uninterrupted downpours, and when we finally arrived at the town of Spa we were greeted by a fine soaking drizzle in a classic scotch mist style.
As we refreshed ourselves in the hotel bar our thoughts were with Ian Jamie who was actually driving his car all the way rather than using trailers like the rest of us.
After a few beers and a long wait for a steak at a nearby restaurant we all retired to bed, apprehensive of the potentially very slippery day to follow.
Incredibly enough the next morning dawned clear and sunny and although the track was initially very damp, it soon dried out.
Those with no previous experience of the track soon picked up the lines and even the infamous ‘Eau Rouge” corner (totally unique and very satisfying when you get it right) was attacked with gusto.
The approach to Eau Rouge
Lap times decreased and eventually I got to try Ollie Vaulkhard’s blue 340R which had just been shod with slicks. It did not take me long to appreciate the benefits of the slick tyres which made the car corner as if it was welded to the tarmac, with much higher cornering speeds possible.
Ollie's car on the straight
I was soon back in the pits purchasing a set to fit to my car, although I did feel a little bit as if I was cheating, as there was a lot less skill required to drive the car round quickly on slicks, compared with the standard A038 tyres.
The day finished without any incidents and we retired to the hotel for a couple of beers followed by yet more steak and chips at another restaurant – our meal only being cut short by the need to recover Ollie’s AMG Mercedes estate from a ditch outside the hotel under mysterious circumstances (funny thing those handbrakes).
The next morning we were again blessed with fine warm sunny weather, and as is usual on the second day, lap times were again reduced as everybody relaxed and started to really attack the circuit.
I was able to swap cars with David Harvey and try out his 225 bhp engined 340R which also has numerous tweaks and modifications. I was mighty impressed by just how smooth the engine was (made the standard tune engines seem a bit agricultural) and of course the extra power and torque were very nice, with the extra rpm available being useful on some of the longer corners. An air of luxury was also evidenced by David’s taste for deep shag pile mats in his car.
Aerodynamic mirrors on David Harvey's 225bhp car
The obligatory pit lane photo call and an in car video convoy, were followed by some full pressure driving as owners tried to squeeze the max out of their cars as the day drew to a close.
The tribe enter a fast section
Finally the day ended, and with most cars having completed around 500 track miles in two days, we returned exhausted and elated to the hotel. This time the beers really were deserved and I felt more than a little proud that in all those miles both cars and drivers had behaved impeccably and been able to show a clean pair of heels to lots of more exotic machinery.
Mention should also be made of the other Elise and Exige drivers present who were going flat out, especially impressive was the 111S driver going very quickly on Advan Neovas – now that’s what I call skill.
All credit to RMA for exceptional organisation – I can highly recommend both their UK and European track days which seem to attract a friendly bunch of competent enthusiasts with a marvellous selection of cars.
340R Driver profiles :
The owner of a superbly painted Azure Blue 190 upgraded 340R with UCR gearbox, Ollie was probably the quickest UK driver present and is helped by his almost total lack of fear on some of the faster sections, this is coupled with his skill in pushing the car harder against the envelope than most other drivers.
A ready wit and stream of anecdotes, together with a distinct fondness for the beer kept the posse at the bar well entertained.
A real hero, - Ian deserves a medal for
driving all the way to Spa in torrential rain in a car fitted with lethal
semi slick A038R tyres. However a stiff upper lip and a characteristic
determination, meant that turning back was out of the question.
Ian drives a 190 upgraded car with standard gearbox.
I know Ian to be a quick, smooth and competent driver and I had no hesitation in letting him loose in my own ‘pride and joy’ for a few laps.
Thanks to him for the video clips and the in car action shots.
Exceptionally talented, Robert is smooth
and very very fast despite driving a totally standard unmodified left hand
drive 340R. If he ever got in an upgraded car he would be unbeatable.
Robert races an Alfa Romeo 147 in the German series and we were astounded by his in car footage of his high speed laps of the Nordschleife in both his Alfa and 340R – far too scary for the likes of me.
Engineering genius, David has rebuilt his engine with trick parts to give 225 bhp and given his car several other modifications to produce one of the most technically developed 340R’s in existence.
David loves to tinker with his car and this has definitely borne fruit when you see how fast he is able to go in the damn thing.
The 340R.NET Webmaster and owner of a yellow 340R.
The car has 190 upgrade, UCR box,
boost tube and has been modified with lightweight parts so that it now has
a kerb weight 80kg less than a standard car.
A distinct lack of bottle keeps me driving well within the cars envelope, but then again this hopefully keeps me in one piece over the several thousand track day miles I cover every year.
Editors note : needs QuickTime (Can be obtained from www.apple.com/quicktime/download/) best viewed at half size.
Click here (or right click and save to location) to download a 1.1MB video of David going through Eau Rouge.
Click here (or right click and save to location) to download a 0.4MB video of Ollie going (rather swiftly) through La Source hairpin.
(or right click and save to location) to download a 1.1MB video of Peter
going through Rivage.
Click here (or right click and save to location) to download a 0.6MB video of Peter and the Tribe going through Eau Rouge.
Click here (or right click and save to location) to download a 0.6MB video of Ollie going through Rivage.
(videos courtesy of Ian Jamie)
Any other 340R owners out there interested in attending other track days in the company of like minded 340R's should mail me for further details at : email@example.com
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