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FIA WEC News & Notes, Bellof Remembered, Off Track Show & a (VERY) Old Friend

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Timo Remembers Stefan Bellof

1 September this year will be the 30th anniversary of the death of Stefan Bellof, the hugely talented German lost his life during the 1985 Spa 1000kms (here he is in happier times aboard a Kremer Racing Porsche 936 at Hockenheim in 1982).

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Porsche factory driver Timo Bernhard has chosen to mark that anniversary this weekend as the FIA WEC visits the same track with this tribute helmet.

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Never forgotten.

Silverstone

There has been plenty of positive comment passed about the opening rounds of the ELMS and FIA WEC and not just because of the stunning racing.

The fan zone attracted much praise “Plenty to do for the kids and all free, a major surprise for racegoers!” said one DSC reader.

With cold winds making a race long grandstand sitting stint every bit as much of a feat of endurance as many racers endure the provision of double deck buses as public shuttle proved a major hit. The DSC Ed’s viewpoint from the TV commentary booth provided ample evidence of the buses being used throughout the race as mobile grandstands.

Nissan’s high profile presence with a pair of GT-R LM show cars was clearly much appreciated, the garage was as popular as many other teams during the pitlane walkabout.

There seems to have been a sea change in attitude at Silverstone with much common sense being employed by the circuit, the grid clearance pre-race assisted no end by the pubic being allowed to access the grandstands from the grid, a sensible move that meant no long walk or bus ride to the stands for the start.

Another common sense move was to allow public access to some catering, bathroom and viewing facilities in the Wing, though signage was not readily apparent advertising the fact!

Official attendance was 45,000 over the three day meeting and whilst DSC reserves the right to healthy cynicism on crowd figures there was certainly a goodly crowd over the full meeting.

Some improvements are needed though over access between the ELMS and WEC paddock, too many long faces and long waits there, a rethink on transport is required (and don’t get Dave Lord started over the photo shuttles!).

The huge amount of comment over the WEC’s move to dispense with grid girls continues to divide opinion though there was no evidence at all of any public backlash. Funny that!

The WEC’s pre-Spa photo call and press conference was held at the Autoworld Museum in Brussels earlier this week

Four of the drivers who will compete at Spa also took part in the press conference, including reigning World Endurance Driver Champion Sébastien Buemi who won in Belgium 12 months ago on his way to the world title with Anthony Davidson and Toyota.  Also in attendance were Porsche’s Romain Dumas, Audi’s René Rast and KCMG’s Matt Howson.

Spa will see a continuation of the WEC’s expanded off-track ‘show’

The Avener: No1 selling French DJ ‘The Avener’ is the WEC Music Ambassador for the 2015 season and will be playing a special set, including his no1 selling single ‘Fade Out Lines’, in the Fan Area at each of the WEC rounds this season.   The Avener will meet the fans, be seen around the paddock and on the grid to help promote the World Endurance Championship through his music, which will be one of the highpoints of the entertainment at Spa with two sets on Saturday, including 30 minutes at the after race party at 20h45.

Meet the Drivers: For the first 4500 people who pre ordered their tickets, there is the opportunity to get an autograph, grab a ‘selfie’ or just shake hands with their favourite drivers during the autograph session – it’s all part of the show!

VTT Trial Show: A trial bike display by Belgium’s World Champion Thierry Klinkenberg.

Grid Walk Show Drummers and Dancers, representing the different nationalities of the paddock, will perform on the grid and juggle with flags

Panoramic Basket: Visitors will have the opportunity to see the track 60 meters up in the air with a ride on the Panoramic Basket.

Giant Zip Wire: For even greater thrills visitors can take a ride on a giant zip wire. At 10 m high and 60 meters long, be prepared for a fantastic thrill ride suitable for the whole family.

Inflatable Village: Great fun with lots of air! Fun for kids of all ages with a giant inflatable football pitch, an elastirun and lots more.

WEC Fan Area: Distribution of goodies, have a race on the simulator or have your picture taken in the WEC photo booth.

Display Area:  Audi, Michelin and Tequila Patron will be showcasing their products with displays in the paddock.

Giant Screens: Watch the racing action on giant screens on the WEC Tower in the fan area. Visitors need not miss any of the action while enjoying other aspects of the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

Friends

Long-Time Audi Sport PR Martyn Pass recently celebrated a significant birthday (as a clue he’s not 21 and not 61 either!) and was treated to a surprise presentation on race morning at Silverstone by the team.

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After a highly complimentary and emotional tribute from Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Martyn had thought this was to be a pre-race team briefing) Allan McNish appeared with Martyn’s birthday present from his missus Teresa, a large scale model of Allan’s World Championship and Le Mans winning 2013 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. A belated very happy 70th Martyn!*

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*not really!!