Tag Archives: Belgium

Belgium Recap

The 2016-17 season opener was taken on a comfortably cool day at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.  The traditionally unpredictable weather remained dry throughout, leaving the cars to race freely.

As it was the opening race of the season, the starting grid was seeded randomly just prior to the start of the race.  For the remainder of the season, it will follow the SBMRL procedure of starting in reverse order of the current driver standings.  Here then, is what the lineup at Spa looked like, along with their new liveries for this year:

P1 – Ice (Frank) – white Williams-Martini, white tail
P2 – Jaronimus Maximus (Geoff) – green Lotus/Caterham, yellow nose stripe
P3 – Nero (Jason) – white Williams-Martini, black tail
P4 – The Stig (Jason) – red Ferrari, white engine cover
P5 – Captain Slow (Jason) – red Ferrari, black engine cover
P6 – Mater (Ryan) – blue Red Bull, blue tail
P7 – Jamonito del Verde (Geoff) – green Lotus/Caterham, white nose stripes
P8 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank) – yellow Renault, black tail
P9 – Danger Wheel (Ryan) – blue Red Bull, purple tail
P10 – Launch Bornado (Frank) – yellow Renault, yellow tail

There was drama from the moment the lights went out to signal the start of the race.  Nero stalled his car at the 3rd grid position and was immediately caught up with by Mater, who had a flying start out of 6th.  It didn’t stop there, either.  While Ice was able to get through La Source ahead of everyone, the rest of the pack fought their way through the tight corner.  Jaronimus was sandwiched between Mater and the Stig, losing a bit of bodywork.  Shortly thereafter, Nero’s race went from bad to worse as not only did he find himself all the way back in last place, Launch Bornado gave him some damage on the charge down the inside.

Spa, Lap 1, La Source

Race start chaos

After the front pack flew through Eau Rouge, the trailing pack found themselves in a bit of a pickle.  With 6 cars all trying to find their way through at top speed, the odd man out was Jaronimus.  He had been on a particularly slow uptake out of La Source and when he went to charge through the high speed Eau Rouge-Radillon combination, found it all stoppered up.  He was forced to slam on his brakes, leaving them near the end of their life in his effort to avoid crashing into the back of Jaap Snellrijder.

While Ice and Captain Slow took a moderate lead, the rest of the field battled to catch up.  With Jaronimus falling from 2nd to last and having to drive extremely cautiously just to make it to the pits, things were not looking good for the Osito Racing Company.  Then it got even worse.  The hard charge into Les Combes meant that Jamonito suffered the exact same misfortune as his teammate, a desperate slam on the brakes just to stay in the race.

Spa, Lap 1, Les Combes

Jamonito’s brakes save him in the middle of Les Combes congestion

The second sector saw a gradual stratification of the field as cars began to spread out along the track.  This was largely due to the technical nature of that section.  The third sector with its long Blanchimont straight leading into the Bus Stop chicane then became the place were it started to come back together.  Mater caught up to Captain Slow and Ice, leaving the latter down in 3rd place.  Behind them, the rest of the field did their best to join them.  Jaap was the leader of that charge, while Jaronimus saw his push result in a spin coming out of Stavelot.  That spin effectively ended his chance of being competitive.  At certain other points on the track, such a spin wouldn’t have been as costly.  In fact, Nero proved the point just a bit further on.  As it was, Jaronimus was inching along a stretch of track where cars are typically at full throttle.

Mater’s charge resulted in his being the first to cross the line for the second lap, finally forcing his way into the race lead.  Unfortunately, he’d be out of the race moments later.  His trip through La Source took him over the debris that had been left there on the first lap and he was forced to retire with a broken suspension.

Spa, Lap 2, La Source

Mater’s day comes to an end

Ignoring Mater’s wreckage, Ice pushed on with the second lap.  Captain Slow followed close behind and Jaap made every effort to join them.  The rest of the field, sans Jaronimus, almost literally piled into the pits.  The instigator was Nero who, having spun out at the Bus Stop chicane, blocked access to pit lane.  In the end, all five of Nero, Launch, Jamonito, the Stig, and Danger Wheel were in pit lane at the same time.

As Ice continued to lead through the second sector, Jaap managed to catch up with Captain Slow in the battle for second.  Jamonito emerged as the primary challenger for 4th place, but the Stig was close behind and closed the gap on entry to Rivage.


Ice leads with Jaap and Captain Slow in hot pursuit

Jaap’s attempts to get past Captain Slow resulted in a minor collision along the short straight leading into Stavelot.  Last year’s champion was carrying speed, and flew into second place on the back straight.  Ice, however, was flawless over the final half lap, and there was really nothing anyone could do to catch him.  Jaap closed the gap enough to make it close, but Ice emerged victorious.  Captain Slow pulled in with an uncontested 3rd place to round out the podium.

The battle for 4th was an entirely different matter.  Jamonito had taken control of the position through sector 2, but a number of cars were closing that gap.  Initially led by the Stig, Danger Wheel passed him at Stavelot with Launch and Nero on the charge.  Launch took the corner just right, but Nero carried a bit too much speed and found himself in the barriers, out of the race.


Jamonito leads on the back straight just prior to Nero’s crash

Danger Wheel’s charge along the back straight was inspired and he was able to pass Jamonito on entry to the Bus Stop.  The latter was nursing some severely worn tyres, and that left the door open for both Launch and the Stig to scuttle past.  After entering the third sector with 4th place seemingly in his grasp, Jamonito found himself 7th across the line.

Not to be forgotten, Jaronimus slogged along in last place.  With Nero having crashed out at Stavelot, there was still something to strive for.  Namely, surviving long enough to secure 8th place.  The Osito Racing Company rookie took the opportunity to string some turns together and get a proper feel for the car.  Emboldened by the sight of the long Blanchimont straight and with nothing on the line, he simply floored it the rest of the way.  It was his best driving of the day… until he crashed at the Bus Stop.

ORC management was said to be less than amused.  “When the track was full and everything was on the line, he drove slow,” was the disgruntled comment.  “When the rest of the field has finished and he’s got nothing to lose, he suddenly goes fast enough to wreck the car!  Now we’ve got to go about fixing it before Austin.”  Perhaps he’ll have better luck in Texas.

Final Results

Driver Start Lap Finish
Ice (CO) 1 2 1
Jaap Snellrijder (RM) 8 4 2
Captain Slow (SB) 5 3 3
Danger Wheel (RB) 9 9 4
Launch Bornado (RM) 10 6 5
The Stig (SB) 4 8 6
Jamonito del Verde (ORC) 7 5 7
Jaronimus Maximus (ORC) 2 10 8, dnf
Nero (CO) 3 7 9, dnf
Mater (RB) 6 1 10, dnf

Spa proved to be an extremely challenging track for all drivers.  Having an additional team on the grid certainly meant that driving at the front was an advantage.  Ice and Captain Slow made the most of it, while Jaap somehow managed to successfully find a way through all the chaos behind them.  Ice is now the first driver to lead the drivers standings other than Jaap.  It’s hard to pick a bigger disappointment between Jaronimus’ struggles after starting 2nd on the grid and Mater’s crash, but we’ll go with Mater.  An inspired drive from 6th to 1st at the halfway mark went for naught just seconds into the second lap.

Regency Motors began the year in the same way that they finished last year, atop the team standings.  The margin is slim, but both drivers managed large gains from the back of the grid.  Ice’s win gives Cobalt their 4th victory, which is twice what any other team has achieved.  Nero’s crash puts them at the back in terms of ability to actually see the checkered flag.  Scandinavian Blitz is a close 3rd, while Red Bull and Osito will have some catching up to do.


It’s always fun to compare the recent race results with things that have happened in the past.  As stated above, the win for Cobalt is their 4th overall.  No other team has won more than two races.  Those 4 victories have all come in the last 5 races run.  The only recent race they missed out on was Sochi.  On the other hand, their points haul has been significantly lower than expected.  The run started with a dominating 1-2 finish at Sebring, but since then, the team’s second car has never finished higher than 7th.

Speaking of failing to finish, Nero has now crashed in 3 of his last 4 races.  In those races, the only time he’s seen the checkered flag was his victory at Valencia.  He won at Sebring, too, so he’s literally been all or nothing for 5 straight events.

Osito Racing Company’s 10 points in their maiden race were quite a few less than what they were hoping for.  They can take some solace in the fact that last year, Scandinavian Blitz managed just 8 in the opener and Red Bull managed the same 10 at Singapore.

Individual drivers had some interesting trivia as well.  Jaap never finished lower than 4th last season, but he also never once finished in 2nd place.  Naturally, that’s where he finished in the first race of this year.  Captain Slow’s 3rd place finish after starting 5th on the grid marks the first time that he’s moved up more than one slot from his starting position.  He went from 6th to 5th at Buddh last year, and he won from pole in Singapore, but dropped position in every other race.  Similarly, Danger Wheel went from 9th to 4th for a 5 position improvement.  Last year, he never moved up.  His best races were his win at Buddh and a 2nd place finish at Hockenheim, and in both cases he started in those same slots.

Race Gallery

Belgium Preview

After a long summer break, we’re finally ready to start the 2nd season of the SBMRL!  The victors’ time for boasting has come and gone as the also-rans are once again on level ground.  Everyone heads to Belgium in exactly the same state.


The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was originally designed in 1920 using public roads and boasted a length of 9.3 miles.  It hosted its first Grand Prix in 1925 and was one of the fastest tracks in the world.  Concerns about length and dangerous high speed turns led to it being shorted to about 4.3 miles.  It was fully closed to street traffic in the year 2000, something Conan never predicted.

The track opens with a very short trip into the La Source hairpin.  The cars at the back of the grid will take a bit longer to get through, but they’ll be able to carry more speed down the hill into Eau Rouge and Raidillon.  The down-up nature of this extremely quick corner leads on to the Kemmel straight.  Drivers who hit it right will be able to fly through this section, but they’ll be faced with some extreme downshifting at Les Combes.

Les Combes signals the start of the second sector of the track, which is the most technical part of the track.  A series of challenging corners in quick succession will slow the field down dramatically.  The one real shot at some speed is Pouhon, but that speed will need to be curtailed on approach to Campus.  Sector three is then a straight shot to the final Bus Stop chicane.  Once again, the approach will be at high speed and drivers will have to slam on the brakes to stay on course.

Spa is an extremely challenging track that will require drivers to tune their car to their driving style.  Those that elect a more cautious approach may opt for tyres over brakes and gearbox if they don’t plan to approach the end of the straights at high speed.  Those with heavy soles in their shoes will need to account for the massive slowdowns present.

Starting Grid

As it’s the first race of the season, the starting grid will be determined just prior to the start of the race.  Of note is that Spa will be Jaap Snellrijder’s home race, giving him a slight edge over the rest of the field.

Season Outlook

The 2016-17 SBMRL season sees an additional, as yet unnamed, team join the grid to bring the field to a total of 10 cars.  Last year’s champion, Regency Motors, returns both of their drivers and will have their work cut out for them to repeat those efforts.  Jaap kickstarted his driver’s championship with an opening race victory in Austin last year, and never once lost the points lead.

Two additional cars on track may not seem like much, but it’s a 25% increase and the end result will be significantly more congestion.  Teams will likely have a strong desire and/or need to pit both cars, but with the revised pit rules for this season giving fewer opportunities for repairs, split strategies will come into play more often.