Sunday, 04 November 2007 08:37

Spa 2007

Written by  Guus Docen
  Text and photos by Guus Docen   Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps 5-7 October 2007   
Above: View from L'Eau Rouge 
  A few days before Autumn one of the best historic race events in the world takes place in Belgium at the Francorchamps circuit near Spa. This year 15th edition was one of the best ever, the weather was outstanding and the race classes were better then ever especially for the touring car enthusiasts.Some 600 cars took part in 11 different races over the weekend, with over 1000 drivers. For the Formula One 2007 Grand Prix the track layout of Spa-Francorchamps was  changed. The renovation started in November 2006 and finished in May 2007, costing around 8,85 million Euros.  The Bus Stop chicane was re-designed again and it has been returned into a right hander and left hander including the pit lane entrance. The new entrance has drawn criticism for being too tight for the entry speed drivers will likely approach it at.The La Source hairpin is much wider now, allowing more space for the new pit/paddock complex and the new layout gives the bonus of higher cornering speed. To many of the drivers the new circuit layout feld marginally slower than before but the track still demonstrates the importance of driving skills more than any other in the world.   
Above: Aston Martin DP 214 
Six Hour Race 
 Above: Ford GT 40 Spyder  Above: Jaguar E Type Low Drive
Centrepiece for this event is indisputably the Six Hours Endurance Race.  This year there were 95 entries, favourite cars for this event are MGB (13 entries), Ford Mustang (12 entries) Jaguar E-Type (10 entries) and Porsche 911 (10 entries). No less then five Ford GT40s were entered this year including a very rare Spider-version. After qualifying on Friday 87 cars entered the race and on the front row were two GT40s. Last year winners Lynn/Mallock kept the lead for three hours with their GT40 but starting from the forth row the Dutch/Swiss equipe Hugenholtz/Hart/Herzog placed their well prepared Mustang Shelby after two hours just 18 seconds behind the GT40. The Clark/Friedrichs/Hadfield equiped Aston Martin DP214 (a replica of DP212) took over second place on lap 75. Finally the Dutch/Swiss Mustang did a fast and tremendous job winning this thrilling race after 3 years of not finishing this exhausting race. 

 Above: Lotus Elan Shape Craft - 6
  Hour race
 Above: Maserati 3000 RAC
Woodcote Trophy
 Above: D Type Jaguar - RAC
Woodcote Trophy
  The final race of the British Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy was another brilliant spectacle.Starting from pole the Maserati 300S of Burkhard Von Schenk and Gregor Fisken took the lead but their comfortable position was in danger as the Jaguar D-Type of Lukas Huni and Gary Pearson became closer in their rear-view mirror.  In the final lap both cars came around the tight corner of the chicane side by side, the Maserati on the outside, and howled towards the finish line.A photo-finish had to decide that the D-type won the race by just 0.013 seconds !  
 Above: 1929 Bentley - Pre-War
Race Series
 Above: 1934 MG K3  Above: Singer Le Mans - Paris

The Motor Racing Legends Pre-War race series is a one-hour, two-driver race, for ‘proper’ historic sports cars of the 1920s and ’30s, running in road trim with wings and lights. Remarkably some of the competing cars were driven to Spa from their homes in the UK and Scotland including a Type 50 Bugatti and  two 4½-litre Bentleys. The one-hour race was won by the equipe Fabri-Stoop with an Alfa Romeo Monza. Second place was taken by the Belgian driver, Nicolas D’Ieteren, in an 8C Monza, after a fierce battle with the HRG of William Mahany and James Baxter. Whilst wandering through the paddock area I spotted a car of the same time period, a 1934 Singer Le Mans which campaigned in Peking to Paris 2007.  
 Above: 1963 Ford Galaxie  Above: 1957 Austin A 35  Above: 1958 Austin A 105
  Not less then three 1-hour touring car races were held this weekend.  The Top Hat series and British Sports, GTs & Saloon Car Challenge produced each a mixed grid of 73 starters. The Historic Motor Racing News sponsored U2TC-race saw 42 entries. The HSCC organised a saloon car race driven in two heats on Saturday and Sunday. All these races offered a range and diversity that sees anything from a diminutive Austin A35 to a Plymouth Barracuda. Like the Barracuda some of interesting cars,  seldom prepared for racing during their production years, turned up in these series like an 1958 Austin A 105, MG 1100 and Rover P6 (a re-creation of the 1970 Nürburgring 86-hour Marathon de la Route car).   
 Above: 1970 Camaro  Above: 1965 Plymouth  Above: 1960 A 40
 Above: 1970 NSU  Above: 1960 Morris Minor  Above: Rover P6 - British Challenge
   The Masters GT & Sports Endurance races, known as the Gentleman Drivers series, has long been Europe’s best subscribed and highly respected historic racing grid of pre-’66 GT cars and pre-’63 sportscars.  In this 2-hour ‘mini-endurance’ race no drivers changes can be made before the first 25 minutes or within the last 25 minutes of the race. The owner / driver must complete a minimum of 51% of the race distance. No driver is permitted to race for more than 50 minutes in one stint.Cars entered comply with their original World Endurance Series specification, matching their FIA papers and racing on period correct Dunlop tyres, and so evoke the famous races of their era, such as the Tour de France, Goodwood, Spa and Monza. The Gentleman Drivers GT & Sports Endurance cars, from Ferraris to MG, from Bizzarini to Morgan and from Cobra to Lotus XI provide great racing and a great spirit everywhere they go. On the grid the first 2 rows were AC Cobra territory followed by the Minshaw-brothers (Jaguar E-Type) and von Schenk/Fisken (Porsche 904/6). During the next two hours a close and thrilling race followed between the two AC Cobras of Bryant/Bryant and Hitchins/Harper and the Minshaw E-Type. Finally the chequered flag was taken by father and son Bryant, second  Hitchins/Harper (AC Cobra) and third the Minshaw brothers (E-Type Jaguar).   
 Above: Elva Mk VII - Sports Racing
 Above: AC Cobra - Sports
Endurance Masters
 Above: 1971 Alfa Romeo 33T3
 Above: MG 1100  Above: Austin Healey Sebring -
British Sports and Saloon Car
 Above: Austin Healey and Morgan
It was indeed a fantastic weekend ! Beautiful weather, nice cars and thrilling races.My compliments to the organizers and all the competitors which created a wonderful racing atmosphere. This event deserves to attract a much larger crowd so please keep in mind for next year that this event takes place just after the Formula One Belgium Grand Prix !    
 Above: RAC Woodcote Trophy
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