16 & 17 July 1994, Gruitrode, European Championship
Report by Anne Sayell

There's racing and there's RACING! The European Championship weekend in Belgium came in the RACING! category encompassing all that a good weekend away, should involve. But let's get the nitty gritty out of the way first...

The lap times look place on the Saturday, by means of a hand held stop watch and the results were as follows:

Pole position went to Toni Scheepens with a time of 14.95 seconds indicating the speed of the Gruitrode circuit and its' suitability for the Continental cars. Klaus Kilianski completed the front row with a time of 15.25. Nic Grindrod was the top Brit with 15.62 followed by Dick Loseby on 15.63 and Harry Sayell on 15.64. Close, eh? Dick and Nic were handling and running superbly, Harry's 1600 however was giving trouble with a persistent hesitation or misfire.

The race was run over 45 laps and the weather was hot with a capital 'H'. Toni got lie first corner but was harassed by Klaus constantly and places swapped back and forth whilst the Brits did their bit two car lengths back. Dick and Nic touched resulting in the latter spinning out early on but the yellow peril was making good ground up on the field when the car hit the armco violently on lap 13 and caught fire causing a few hearts to flutter and the race to be red flagged. Definitely unlucky for the Grindrod camp. Toni was leading at this stage with Klaus second and Harry third. After what seemed like an age to get Nic out and extinguish the fire, the race was restarted with the rather unusual line up which put all the back markers in position between the top placed cars. The possible intention to hold Harry up failed, but Johannes Houpens seemed to find it harder to cope with the back markers and he lost valuable ground after this point. Klaus' car then mysteriously developed an oil leak into the cock-pit and retired leaving the race to the storming Dutchman, Scheepens. Harry battled on, developing a horrendous misfire by two thirds distance and back-firin. for the last five laps. Houpens however unable to make up the three quarter lap gap between them, gave Harry a clear second place behind Toni who took his first major title in well over a decade's racing.

The heats, the first of which was a memorial to Peter Scheepens, were run over just 15 laps from a weird graded order which allowed Klaus so far in front on the grid that Harry and Toni on the back row needed binoculars to see him. The two front cars gave not an ounce of resistance and Klaus had the race won by the end of the first lap. Klaus, it seems has only raced twice this year and whereas our grading system would hare put him as a non-qualifier and at the back, the Continentals grade on points scored only with no Qualifying and no use of averages, and so he was almost starting in the white grade. We must have had them worried though because they also graded the 1300cc cars amongst their 1600's and a good 75% of their cars started in front of the Brits. The highest Brit in heat two was Harry "you know who" in 5th with the car now almost running sensibly after the trying of a third fuel pump. Neil Clarke finished in eighth.

The final saw Neil a very worthy third and a whole load of waffle from him about what a superb track and day's racing it had been... Don't anyone hand him a mic. at the Dinner Dance. Sonic Sayell took fifth, but probably the best performance of all was from Simon Hiles, the 'Wednesbury Warrior' who finished sixth. Who won the final? Oh, Klaus someone or other!

So, that's the boring bit, here's the gossip.... The boat trips were interesting - P&O were brilliant and the sea was like a duck pond. On Friday's crossing they even had Mel Gibson on the video and when the Belgian farmers blockaded the port on Monday P&O held the sailing up for an hour to allow for those delayed who included yours truly and Gary Granger. Well done P&O. Those travelling with Sally Line were not so lucky. The boat was late leaving England and on time leaving Belgium which meant Eddy Ricketts and Stacker had to wait nearly an hour going out and three hours for the next one coming back.

You wouldn't have got better weather on the Costa Del Wherever. Not a cloud in the sky and the evenings spent round the barbecues were relaxing in the extreme. Ignore the ugly rumours about Mrs Loseby's karaoke with the Germans at 4am and about Mrs Ricketts and yours truly, downing a bottle of Cinzano between us - it's just the men being pernickity.

Seriously though, the venue was lovely, the racing was very fast but clean and the company was great - it's what real racing is all about, something for the whole family. Finally, it is true that Dick Loseby was seen wearing a Nic Grindrod T-shirt all weekend - some excuse about it being free.... Neil definitely did have flowers on the table and Gary Granger did have a cold shower where all the world could see.

 
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
7th
8th
9th
10th
Euro
100c
1
125c
14c
77c
12c
41
7
55
Heat 1
93c
12c
125c
100c
1
14c
77c
7
41
25c
Heat 2
93c
12c
7
100c
1
26
41
77c
25
33

Continental drivers are denoted by a 'c' after their numbers. Neil Clarke raced as number 7 to avoid duplication of car numbers.