It was most definitely a successful return to racing as the Storming Camel Motorsport team ascended on the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium for the latest round of the 750MC Club Enduro Championship.
It’s a racetrack that has drivers grinning from ear-to-ear from the moment they arrive. They tell tales of soaring up Eau Rouge, blasting round Blanchimont and battling the Bus Stop Chicane for years to come.
Spa certainly didn’t disappoint. Basked in glorious 20+ degree sunshine from the moment the team arrived on Thursday evening to crossing the chequered flag after the second of the two races on Saturday afternoon. This iconic 7.004 km circuit was picture perfect and a dream throughout.
Drivers Nik Grove and Carlo Turner were admirably assisted by Ryan Crispino, Daniel Hatton and Sam Mason throughout. The three Motorsport Engineering students worked tirelessly to get the car prepped and in a position to pass scrutineering before qualifying on Friday morning.
SC3 was in good shape for, albeit slightly bruised from the damage and disappointment of Donington Park. “Pointy” and “precise” is how Carlo described it as he and Nik got some valuable running against an extremely competitive field that included some local racers with budgets that wouldn’t be out of place in a professional competition.
However, there were early signs that the racing gods were against them again for this flagship event.
The qualifying result was redundant on the first lap of race one when Carlo, taking the first stint, took a heavy bump from behind after seemingly avoiding a multi-car collision at Les Combes. On returning to the track, he was crashed into by a Porsche Cayman 718 who also took evasive action but suffered steering damage which left the SC3 as a sitting duck.
Sharp reactions prevented a spin and although Carlo was unhurt, the car wasn’t. Nursing a wounded Camel back to the pits, it quickly became clear that the damage was significant enough to force a retirement from the race.
There’s never a dull moment in motorsport, especially at Spa, and not all those driver stories are good ones.
Efforts immediately turned to repair and to ensure that the 700+ mile round trip wasn’t to be a fruitless one. Ryan, Daniel and Sam were called back into action and hope was truly on their shoulders once again. Some intuitive University-trained repair work from the trio, as well as some lessons learned at Jeremy Clarkson’s school of engineering (namely, a big hammer!), saw the car fit and ready to take to the track for the second race on Saturday morning.
A renewed optimism was apparent and a feeling that the run of bad fortune must surely have come to an end…
Nik took the first stint for the 100-minute race and kept the car out of trouble early on, despite an second-lap safety car. Growing into the race after the restart, he showed some really good pace and produced some excellent overtakes including through the Bus Stop Chicane.
The second half of the race with Carlo at the wheel very much followed the same pattern with more impressive overtakes and further navigating through the field to see the chequered flag after one hour and 43 minutes of racing and 32 completed laps.
Both drivers consistently delivered sub three-minute lap times throughout and the return of the usual reliability was a welcome relief for a team that has been on the receiving end of some of the worst luck in their 10-year history. A respectable finish of 20th on track and 9th in class doesn’t tell even half the story.
The nostalgia of sharing the same tarmac as some of motor racing’s greats, including multiple F1 Belgian Grand Prix winners such as Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. Battling some of the world’s most challenging corners on one the most iconic and picturesque race circuits ever created. It’s the thrill of motorsport.
The team appreciate they can’t do what they do without the unrivalled backing they receive and want to pay a special thank you to everyone who supported Storming Camel Motorsport at Spa-Francorchamps this year. Ryan, Daniel and Sam who gave up their time to offer race team support and were absolutely vital in getting Nik and Carlo racing. The sponsors – LTS Global Solutions, Assured Data Protection and 87Marketing – who, without them, would not have seen the team fulfil their racing ambitions several times throughout the year. Finally, the Turner family who made the voyage to Belgium to offer support and encouragement throughout the weekend.
Next up in September is another equally picturesque circuit in the form of Anglesey and it’s all set to be another action-packed adventure.
Check out some of the photos from the race weekend below: