Historic Motor Racing in Europe is very popular nowadays. In earlier articles published on IPA we featured the Spa Classic in Belgium as well as the Oldtimer Grand Prix on the Nürburgring. In Belgium, France, Germany and the UK, big classic motor racing events are held yearly. In this article we feature the Spa 6 Hours race, unique in it’s kind and very popular amongst historic racing drivers and fans.
650 historic cars, ranging from 1960’s GTs to brute CanAm prototypes and historic Formula 1 cars. These are the Spa 6 Hours held on the legendary Spa-Francorchamps race track situated in the beautiful Ardennes region.
The Roadbook organisation, led by Vincent Collard and Alain Defalle, organised the 21st edition of the famous six hour race, held on Saturday September 21st. Over the weekend from Friday to Sunday, an action packed race programme was presented, culminating on Saturday as 109 GTs and touring cars started for their 6 hour race from 16.00 on the legendary Ardennes roller coaster.
Spa-Francorchamps is a mythic race track situated in the beautiful Ardennes region. The track was originally designed by Jules de Their and Henri Langlois Van Ophem in 1920. Between the towns of Spa, Malmedy and Stavelot public roads were used and in 1922 the first car race was held. From 1925 the track was used for Grand Prix Racing.
The original Pre-War track measured no less than 14.9 km and was a very fast circuit. In the early days the track had a slow uphill U-turn at the bottom of the legendary Eau Rouge corner. To improve the average speeds the U-turn was cut short resulting in the famous Raidillon, a faster sweep straight up the hill towards Kemmel straight.
Nowadays, parts like Burnenville, the Masta straight and Masta kink, La Carriere are no longer used and from Kemmel they head straight into Les Combes. Other famous curves are Pouhon, Stavelot and Blanchimont. The track has been modified several times from the nearly 15 kms before the 2nd World War to the 7 km layout that is used today. Without doubt, Eau Rouge is perhaps one of the most challenging corners in the world.
Perfect weather conditions above the Ardennes mountains as a huge field of 109 cars started for their formation lap. The nr. 3 Ford GT40 of Christian Gläsel, Indy 500 racer Kenny Bräck from Sweden and Olivier Ellerbrock started from pole position, followed by another four Ford GT40s. The nr.3 Ford GT40 managed to keep his leading position for the first 43 laps, followed by the nr.1 Ford GT40 of the 2012 winners Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield.
From lap nr. 50 it was the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport of former F1 driver Jan Lammers, Michiel Campagne and Allard Kalff leading the field. Slowly the nr. 3 GT40 worked its way into the top ten. From lap 70 it was the nr. 37 GT40 of Philip Walker and Mike Jordan in front of the pack.
Very impressive was the drive of the nr. 3 GT40 as it worked its way back to a second place. Shaun Lynn and Andrew Haddon took the lead in their GT40 from lap 70 but just 4 laps later the nr. 3 car of the combination Gläsel, Bräck and Ellerbrock claimed the lead again.
Slowly but steady the nr. 1 Ford of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield worked their way up into the top three and just 16 laps before the flag the Greek-British combination scored their consecutive victory! Second place was claimed by the Dutch threesome Jan Lammers, Michiel Campagne and Allard Kalff. Shaun Lynn and Andrew Haddon finished their Ford GT40 in third.
Besides the 6 hour race on Saturday afternoon the event saw participation of the FIA Masters Historic F1 Championship, featuring no less than 27epic historic Formula 1 cars.
Fans of historic prototypes that wrote history in the 24 hours of Le Mans or the World Endurance Championship could see a huge grid of cars built before 1974 featuring a true armada of great looking and sounding Lola T70s, Chevron B8s and B16s, McLaren M1s just to name just a few great cars from a total of 52.
These cars participated in the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship. Furthermore CanAm prototypes, GTs and touring cars from the 60s as well as large field of historic grand prix cars filled the different grids on the legendary Ardennes roller coaster.