SOLID PERFORMANCES IN BELGIUM FOR FPA NEWCOMER BARNES

4th June 2006

Free Practice

Jon Barnes kicked off the Euro Race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium in just the way that he would have wanted – once again surprising the Formula Palmer Audi field by heading the timesheets following the 30 minute free practice session on Friday morning.

The 22-year-old once again revelled in the damp conditions, setting a best lap that was three tenths of a second quicker than his nearest rival, current championship leader, Victor Jensen.

Qualifying 1

The first qualifying session was held in cloudy but dry conditions on Friday afternoon. At the end of the session it was Championship leader Viktor Jensen on pole, with Jon Barnes second, and Chris Hyman in third, with just over a second splitting the top three.

Top Six Results:

Pos

No

Driver

Time

Gap

Laps

MPH

1

8

Viktor Jensen

2:21.530

10

110.26

2

32

Jon Barnes

2:22.362

0.832

11

109.39

3

21

Chris Hyman

2:22.590

1.060

10

109.44

4

19

Aaron Steele

2:22.685

1.155

12

109.37

5

4

Joshua Southall

2:23.584

2.054

11

108.68

6

13

James Wingfield

2:24.243

2.713

10

108.18

Qualifying 2

With Viktor Jensen pitting at the end of his installation lap, it was Friday's second-placed Jon Barnes who initially topped the time sheets, setting 2:21.843 on his second flying lap.

However, it was the on-form Chris Hyman who set the fastest lap nearing the end of the session, deposing Barnes from the top spot, who was sat in the pits having completed just three flying laps. Jensen made a last dash with just a minute left and managed to grab second position, his best lap yet still being just over a quarter of a second shy of Hyman's pole.

Barnes suffered a disappointing end to the qualifying session, damaging the right rear of his car with an off on the exit of Stavelot whilst trying to snatch back pole position in the dying moments of the session. Barnes said, “We made some changes to the car overnight to try to cure some understeer which was slowing me down significantly yesterday. The changes to the car worked well at the beginning of Quali 2 and I was able to go over half a second quicker than in Quali 1. The engineers suggested making further changes to the front damper settings to give me even more turn in, but having made the changes and whilst on a very fast lap at the end of Quali 2, I lifted off the throttle on the way into Stavelot and the car snapped sideways on me, sending me spinning into the gravel. It's a disappointing end to the session and the first time I have damaged a race car in almost three years, but this won't affect my confidence and I am looking forward to the races tomorrow.”

So the final order was Hyman, Jensen, Barnes, Wingfield and Paul Warren rounding out the top five.

Chris Hyman was very pleased to be on pole: "I love this track, and I've had some disappointment here in the past, so I had a lot to prove. I'm surprised to be on pole, third or fourth was my expectation, but I concentrated on the tyres, and identifying where I could take some time out at specific points, kept it flowing, and the time just came to me."

Top Six Results:

Pos

No

Driver

Time

Gap

Laps

MPH

1

21

Chris Hyman

2:21.213

10

110.51

2

8

Viktor Jensen

2:21.491

0.278

9

110.29

3

32

Jon Barnes

2:21.843

0.630

7

110.02

4

13

James Wingfield

2:21.959

0.746

13

109.92

5

10

Paul Warren

2:22.498

1.285

12

109.51

6

19

Aaron Steele

2:22.600

1.387

11

109.43

Race 1

Viktor Jensen took victory in the first of three Formula Palmer Audi races at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, leading from pole. With a strong getaway the championship favourite led through Eau Rouge as a pack came together behind. Jon Barnes got second with Hyman third, but Aaron Steele spun at Les Combes and, with several other drivers forced to take evasive action, Wesley Fongenie and Tony Brewer came to grief and were out on the spot, with Paul Warren severely delayed and Steele's race effectively ruined.

Barnes initially challenged Jensen but it was a fired-up Chris Hyman in second as they crossed the line for the first time, nearly two seconds down on the leader. Hyman would not give up though and the gap between the pair fluctuated within a few tenths until the final lap.

James Wingfield was the man on the move in the first half of the race, setting the fastest lap and deposing Jon Barnes, who was suffering from gearbox problems, from third position on lap five. Paul Warren was moving up from stone last after the first lap contretemps and midway through the race was in 11th position, at least a second faster than seven cars in front of him.

Giacomo Petrobelli finished in seventh place, commenting: "It was exciting at the start. I saw cars coming off in front of me and went up the escape road to avoid Aaron Steele. After that, we all seemed to keep at the same speed, though I had to keep my eye on Bruce Hodges behind me."

As Jensen took the flag, Hyman held second to the end with James Wingfield third. "I took it steady at the start," Wingfield said. "I knew the car had the pace and, once I was past Jon Barnes, I decided to take it steady again after I had a moment at Stavelot."

Despite being delayed with gearbox woes, Barnes attemped a move on Wingfield but he was forced to settle for fourth place when he lost fourth gear on the way into Pouhon corner on the final lap.

Top Six Results:

Pos

No

Driver

Time

Gap

Laps

MPH

1

8

Viktor Jensen

21:33.360

9

108.59

2

21

Chris Hyman

21:35.798

2:438

9

108.38

3

13

James Wingfield

21:38.422

5:062

9

108.17

4

32

Jon Barnes

21:42.457

9:097

9

107.83

5

4

Joshua Southall

21:52.284

18:924

9

107.02

6

55

Chris Bell

21:52.761

19:401

9

106.98

Race 2

Viktor Jensen kept up his perfect score in the 2006 Formula Palmer Audi Championship when he took victory in the fourth round of the season at Spa-Francorchamps, in Belgium.

Chris Hyman had scored pole for the race, but squandered the position as he misjudged the lights whilst those around him seized the initiative. Jon Barnes - who was now free of gearbox problems, had a great initial jump from third on the grid but was forced to lift in avoidance of Hyman, ruining any chances of challenging Jensen on the run up Eau Rouge. Further back, Giorgio Rosa and Alan Kempson clashed, with their stranded vehicles causing the immediate deployment of the Safety Car midway round the first lap.

After capitalising on Hyman's misfortune, Jensen led the train and was followed by Barnes and James Wingfield. Hyman was 13th, facing an uphill struggle.

With a damaged car at the bottom of Eau Rouge, the safety car was brought on circuit halfway through lap 1, and the cars crawled round until racing restarted on lap three. With Jensen leading, Wingfield latched on to Barnes's tail while Hyman made up two places but was stuck in 11th place, behind Bill Knowles. Wingfield and Steele made their moves on lap five, snatching second and fourth respectively from Barnes and Paul Warren. " Warren ran wide at Eau Rouge," explained Steele. "I used my boost to pass him on the straight, I got a good lap after that and was closing up on Barnes, but ran out of laps."

Wingfield pulled out an immediate gap on Barnes, whose plan was to keep his boost for the closing stages.

Bruce Hodges caused a local caution when he went off at Les Combes, and once the car was cleared, Wingfield and Barnes began to close in on Jensen, with Wingfield setting the fastest lap of the race and taking pole for race three as a result. Behind the leading cars Josh Southall, Chris Bell, Giacomo Petrobelli and Tom Haines fought closely as they squabbled over sixth position.

At the front, Jensen's lead was becoming ever-more tenuous as Wingfield gradually reeled him in. Chris Hyman, struggling with his tyres and suffering understeer, made it up to 10th, but, despite his problems, latched onto the back of the squabbling quartet.

Haines, in ninth, was under pressure. "I saw Chris coming up behind me," he commented. "I knew that I had to push to the front of the group and not let him pass me." That push came on the final lap, when a bout of passing and re-passing culminated in a clash at the Bus Stop. Haines emerged ahead in the melee but Josh Southall, hitherto in charge, coming to grief and could only finish 14th. Bell retained his seventh place, and Chris Hyman capitalised on the misfortunes, to grab eighth in front of Petrobelli.

"Ive discovered that you need to build an early lead in these races, and look after your tyres," Jensen commented.

Outside of the leading pack, Bill Knowles and Derrick Collin enjoyed their race. "It was a good scrap," said Bill, with Derrick adding: "You've got to have courage here, you've got to push."

Top Six Results:

Pos

No

Driver

Time

Gap

Laps

MPH

1

8

Viktor Jensen

24:21.565

9

96.31

2

13

James Wingfield

24:23.335

1.770

9

95.69

3

32

Jon Barnes

24:25.162

3.597

9

95.69

4

19

Aaron Steele

24:30.524

8.959

9

95.69

5

10

Paul Warren

24.36.884

15.319

9

95.07

6

77

Tom Haines

24.44.956

23.391

9

94.45

Race 3

After a year and a half away from the top step of the podium, a delighted Chris Hyman did a Michael Schumacher-style victory leap at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium after winning the third race of the weekend.

With the grid being set by fastest lap times from Race 2, it was James Wingfield who started on pole, with championship leader Viktor Jensen alongside. Jon Barnes was next up, with Chris Hyman fourth, his lap time a result of his charge back into contention. After a shunt in Race 2, Bruce Hodges made the back of the grid, thanks to the sterling efforts of the FPA race engineers.

Jensen hesitated slightly at the start, and it was Jon Barnes who got a fantastic start from row two and challenged Wingfield as they swept up Eau Rouge, with Hyman taking third and Jensen dropping to fourth. By the end of the first lap Hyman had passed Barnes and was beginning to chip at Wingfield's lead. Two laps later Jensen was past Barnes too and, as the leader responded to Hyman's advances, Jensen latched on to the back of the LCA Racing car. Chris Bell, who had been running eighth, fell by the wayside and Barry Walsh, who had been living up to his earlier prediction of running in the top 10, began to slip back.

By half-distance, Jensen had dropped back slightly from the back of Hyman's car, leaving the South African to concentrate on the business in front. With a brave move around the Bus Stop, he was just able to keep in front around La Source, and crossed the line to end lap six just two-tenths ahead of Wingfield.

Wingfield wasn't going to give up, however, as he mounted a challenge again in the closing laps. Eventually he had to admit defeat, however, with the on-form Hyman taking a well deserved victory. A last lap thrust from Jensen saw him breathing Wingfield's exhaust fumes as the pair rounded La Source for the final time, but Wingfield stood his ground as they blasted down the hill to the line.

In the end, Hyman managed to stretch out a small gap and finish 1.343 seconds in front of the battling Wingfield and Jensen. Barnes maintained fourth throughout, and was followed by Aaron Steele and the ever-improving Tom Haines. Giacomo Petrobelli was seventh, and Josh Southall fought with Wesley Fongenie for eighth, the scrap being resolved in Southall's favour. Bruce Hodges and Giorgio Rosa, both in repaired cars after Race 2 crashes, rounded-out the top 10.

Top Six Results:

Pos

No

Driver

Time

Gap

Laps

MPH

1

21

Chris Hyman

21:41.166

9

107.94

2

13

James Wingfield

21:42.509

1.343

9

107.83

3

8

Viktor Jensen

21:42.837

1.671

9

107.80

4

32

Jon Barnes

21:45.351

4.185

9

107.59

5

19

Aaron Steele

21:46.353

5.187

9

107.51

6

77

Tom Haines

21:48.358

7.192

9

107.34


The next round of the 2006 Formula Palmer Audi Championship will be at Brands Hatch on 1/2 July, when the series will race alongside the spectacular DTM series, which features former F1 drivers such as Mika Hakkinen, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jean Alesi. Tickets are available online from www.brandshatch.co.uk or by calling 0870 950 9000.

Ends

Jon Barnes Racing 2017