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Paul Buelens at Colmarberg, Luxembourg

Its becoming an annual tradition to join our friends of the British car trophy at Colmarberg, the home and test circuit of GoodYear. Together with my UK friend Peter Richards driving his superb and very quick Clan Crusader and Donald driving his MG Midget we decided to have another go at this tiny and very technical circuit hidden between the woods.

Weather conditions were typically Belgian with some showers clouds and the problem was in choosing the right tires. We decided to go for the intermediate ones. The competition was fierce as the British Car Trophy members are all well prepared and consist of different Mille Miglias and some other very well prepared Minis, Imps, NSU and a Suzuki Swift?

During the first practice the circuit was still slippery but the Marcos went like a go-kart staying on the track. The only little problem was that it was a running a bit rich when pushing it hard from 30 mph upwards so coming hard out of corners was difficult. At the end of the first practice session, barely crossing the finish line, the engine died out ... no more throttle response. When I was finally allowed to get the car back to the pits I tried to start it up and did right away. It soon became clear that the fuel pump was broken and amongst all the spare parts I had with me I did not bring a fuel pump. Pete had spare and after dismantling it a few times we could finally get it going smoothly. It wasnt new but it would do the job.

After lunch we had the second session where everything ran smoothly and I managed to gain a few places on the starting grid. Weather conditions kept me on the intermediates and no chance to check the setup with the newly acquired slicks. In the meantime Mini brake pads were adapted to fit Fiat X1/9 calipers. It needed a bit of modification but some are very well equipped and sorted that problem for Pete. As the day was filled up with many different groups racing we had a great time watching them tackle the circuit. After a great meal we decided to make it an early night as we would be competing in the first race.

The race conditions meant that the intermediates stayed on despite the fact that a lot of other teams were putting on slicks. From the start on I felt the car was handling great and during the first laps I managed to pass of few other cars that were running in my class. It was close racing and amazing to see how those LSD equipped cars really made the difference. But when Murphy is following you. Things do go wrong and so it did , after seven laps the reconditioned fuel pump decided to quit business and I had to retire. It was a frustrating but well worth weekend sharing technicalities with other drivers and meeting up. Ill be back next year, but a bit better equipped with a spare fuel pump.

Paul Buelens

Photos: Maggy Parries.

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Last updated 22nd January, 2006