AUTODELTA EUROPEAN TOUR 2006

16.09.2006 DAY TWO OF THE AUTODELTA EUROPEAN TOUR SEES THE CARS ON TRACK AT ZANDVOORT

Day two of the Autodelta European Tour dawned hot and sunny, with the convoy of performances cars making their way to the Zandvoort race circuit, which nestles attractively amongst the sand dunes running up to the North Sea, for a day of track action at Spettacolo Sportivo, the annual autumn Dutch Alfa Romeo gathering.

After the hectic journey yesterday by road an sea from London to Holland, day two would involve just a short drive of a few kilometres from the overnight Tour hotel to the famous Zandvoort circuit. After an early start the cars quickly gobbled up the run through the affluent leafy suburbs of Haarlem which give way to the town of Zandvoort and the historic race track, the former home of the Dutch Grand Prix. The weather was simply gorgeous, the cars immediately greeted by blue skies and hot sunshine, their colours shimmering as the made their way in formation - mixed in with a dazzling array of Alfa Romeos all heading for Spettacolo Sportivo - to the traditional annual main gathering of Dutch Alfisti. The Dutch are certainly passionate about the Milanese brand and the cars zipping in and out of the convoy were spectacular, from the Alfasud to the SZ, from the Giulia Super to the GTV6, from the Giulietta SS to the Alfa 155 GTA, they come from far and wide for this event. In amongst the rarities - such as an Alfasud Giardinetta  came a host of racing cars which take advantage of the generous track time on offer. A string of race-prepared Alfa 75s were numerically dominant on track during the opening day, these cars joined by a number of the aggressive Alfa 147 GTA Cup racers, a car which was until recently the mainstay of a Dutch one-make race series that also included Zandvoort on its schedule.

Zandvoort is one of the major Dutch seaside resorts' and it isn't hard to see why, especially on a day like this, and it makes a visit to this track always a pleasurable experience during the long hot summer weather. The circuit, built literally on the sand dunes, held its first race in 1949 before three years later joining the F1 World Championship, where it quickly established itself as a firm fixture until the last Grand Prix was held there in 1985. Quite a long circuit and (somewhat narrow by modern standards) at 2.6 miles (4.18 km), the lap record is held by Scuderia Ferrari official test driver Luca Badoer who completed the undulating lap, with its famous "Tarzan" corner, in lap of 1 minute 19.880 seconds.

The circuit is always an excellent test of driver and machine as it rises and falls between the sand dunes, featuring a long and very quick main straight, super-fast curving sections and tight bends that constantly catch out the unaware; and today in fact there were to be many spinners during a "track day" event where the participants always have a competitive edge: no Alfa Romeo driver has ever wished to appear slower than his rival.
 

The circuit, built literally on the sand dunes, held its first race in 1949 before three years later joining the F1 World Championship.

Day two of the Autodelta European Tour dawned hot and sunny, with the convoy of performances cars making their way to the Zandvoort race circuit, which nestles attractively amongst the sand dunes running up to the North Sea, for a day of track action at Spettacolo Sportivo, the annual autumn Dutch Alfa Romeo gathering.


The Autodelta European Tour cars hit the track "en masse" at just after 2:00PM and it was a real mix of drivers, such as Jason Harris in his supercharged Alfa 146 2.0 TS , who is a regular at this event and knows the vagrancies of its layout inside out, and track "rookies" such as Mike Smith in his 2-lite TwinSpark Autodelta Spider J10 Evo, who was visiting Zandvoort for the first time. Mike - who a BBC TV cameraman -  has a 1997 Spider with 29k on the clock in full J10 Evo specification, including turbocharger and intercooler as well as bigger brake conversion, gearbox conversion (limited slip diff and longer 5th gear), lowered and uprated suspension and full bodystyling kit, as well as running a 3.0-litre Spider exhaust system.

"It's my first visit to Zandvoort and my first time on track," says Mike. "My time on the circuit was exhilarating to start off with, I set out with the plan to just run round and not get involved. I felt safe with the large run off areas, but as everyone else sped up it was hard not to get more and more involved. Being a convertible I could hear everything around me and it was really hard not to become close to the action. I could manage the fast straights ok but to learn the driving line on the bends - on what is a long lap and where it is easy for the unfamiliar to forget where they are - I hung back and followed the quicker guys, rapidly improving my times right through the half hour session," he adds.

Jason Harris with his highly potent 'family' use Alfa 146 TwinSpark was also right in the midst of the unfolding track action. "I have always found Zandvoort to be a very challenging track," says Jason. "However today it wasn't so much of a challenge as I was driving quite sensibly for once. With a long Tour ahead of us 'equipment husbandry' was the order of the day and I just went out to have some fun. The supercharged 146 is a real fun car, Autodelta have balanced it beautifully and it responds perfectly in the corners no matter what line I take."

The Tour participants were swelled with the arrival of a delegation from Autodelta's Russian agents AlfaRacing. Anatoly and his team arrived in Zandvoort in an Alfa 159 after a 16 hour drive from Italy. Tomorrow the Tour is back at the Zandvoort circuit for another day before heading for the scheduled overnight stop in Cologne.

official Tour website: www.autodeltatour.com

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15.09.2006

After months of intense planning and hard work the Autodelta European Tour finally got underway this morning, when the cavalcade of high-performance cars snaked out of London on what was a damp and drizzling September morning

Report & Photos: Autodelta / 2006 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed