Once again the Crosslé Racing Drivers Club headed south towards the Ardennes Forest and the legendary Spa Francorchamps Racing Circuit. The Crosslé 9S has a proud track record in the Spa Ardennes challenge race which traditionally attracts up to 70 sports and sports racing cars from all across Europe. Traditional cars such as Corvettes, Mustangs, TVRs, MGs, Healeys and Alfas mix it with out and out racers such as Caterham CSR and R300, highly modified Ram Cobra, Ford GT40 and of course the Crosslé 9S.
Qualifying – Friday 5pm
The track was dry and not too warm, this meant good conditions for a quick time and certainly the very well driven Caterham CSR took full advantage grabbing pole position with a 2:42.108, beating last year’s pole by close to a full second (Chevron B6). However, in only his second outing to Spa in a Crosslé 9S, Phil Ledger put the number 5 car on the front row with a 2:43.639, a good time for a 9S around Spa, a full second faster than race winner Arnie Black’s pole position in 2013 and matching Andy Feigenwinters pole position time back in 2009. The Fort/Ghio 9S was a full second behind in third followed closely by a bunch of cars around the 2:45 mark. The next Crosslé up was Arnie Black with a 2:47.8 and then Mark Hobbs with a disappointing 2:49.4. Next was the Catherwood/Todd and the Pollard 9S both on 2:51 and then John Taylor with a 2:53.2. Clive Young who was looking to sell his very smart looking orange Crossle 9S did a cautious 2:56.4, we think to make sure that everyone got to see the FOR SALE sign! The final Crossle 9S on the grid was Eamonn Ledwidge with a 2:59, which was a huge improvement on his previous years’ time of 3:04.8.
Race 1 – Saturday 5pm
After the good conditions of Friday evening Saturday could not have been a bigger contrast with heavy rain from around mid-morning onwards, by the time the Spa Ardennes Challenge cars lined up it was an out and out deluge with a sodden track and considerable surface water. As the pace car pulled off and the 50 car field plunged into La Source the spray simply made the entire field invisible. The open top cars like the Crosslé 9S felt like being on a jet ski rather than a race car with water entering just about every orifice of both the car and driver! However everyone was sensible and cautious and this meant that most cars made it through the opening laps and the race settled into an interesting turnaround as the so many of the midfield cars in the dry started to quickly catch and pass the faster sports racers. In particular the Escorts, Corvette and the Ram Cobra seemed almost to be enjoying the conditions and were soon in all the leading positions. The first Crosslé 9S to succumb to the conditions was Mark Hobbs who spun at Fagnes and could not restart and so spent the rest of the race as a lonely and wet spectator. By the time the pit stop/driver changes started the field was pretty spread out and certainly most of the Crossle 9S cars had a lonely race trying to keep the car on the track. Phil Ledger who drove well to take an overall 7th place and 1st of the Crosslé cars to take the CRDC win. Gwyn Pollard took 2nd and the Catherwood/Todd car got 3rd after it was revealed that the Fort/Ghio car had infringed the pit stop rules and received a penalty. The fastest lap amongst the Crosslé cars was Gwyn Pollard with a 3:18.754. The overall winner of the race was Cheng Lim in the Ram Cobra with a fastest time of 3:07.954
Race 2 – Sunday 5pm
It was depleted filed that took to the track late on Sunday with the rain still falling hard conditions were no better, the only difference being that the drivers were all used to them. Starting positions were determined by finishing position in Race 1 so the No 5 Crossle 9s of Phil Ledger was starting 10th on the grid alongside Gwyn Pollard. The by now, usual blinded by spray entry into La Source happened surprisingly without incident and all the cars once again spread out and tried to keep it on the grey stuff, although frankly it was difficult at time to know where the track finished and the grass started. John Taylor in the No 42 Crossle had an exploded clutch which put an end to this weekend and Phil Ledger once again drove well to keep the car pointing in the right direction and went on to an improved 5th place overall and 1st amongst the Crosslé cars. The Fort/Ghio Crosslé made up for its error in race 1 and got 2nd place followed by Gwyn Pollard in 3rd. Fastest Crosslé lap went to Phil Ledger with a 3:15.5 and the overall winner of the race was Cheng Lim in the Cobra. Just 30 cars finished the race from an original field of 50.
Not a classic weekend by any means, with thoroughly miserable conditions putting a dampener on proceedings. But what is very clear is that we have a new dominant force in the Crossle Racing Drivers Club with Phil Ledger proving to be fast whatever the conditions, so well done to him.
The action continues with the Crosslé Racing Drivers Club as we head towards firstly Donington on the 12th/13th July and then Pembrey on the 2nd/3rd August.