Wednesday, 16 October 2019 09:51
27th Spa Six Hours - Francorchamps 27-29 September 2019Written by Guus Docen
Located at the heart of the Belgian Ardennes forest lies one of the most beautiful circuits in the world, the circuit of Spa Francorchamps. Similar to the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the Spa circuit was built into a hilly landscape in the 1920s. Although it has been adapted to modern requirements over the past decades, it has lost nothing of its appeal. For motorsport with classic vehicles, Spa-Francorchamps is also an ideal venue. The most interesting European event for nostalgic petrol heads is the Spa Six Hours weekend. This year the 27th Spa Six Hours weekend, organised by the Road Book Organisation, took place from the 25th to the 29th of September 2019. More than 650 historic racing cars are competing again in various race classes. The absolute highlight of the weekend is the long distance race - the Spa Six Hours.
- The Six Hours Endurance Race
This six-hour race starts on Saturday afternoon and continues until late in the evening. This year there were 106 cars on the entry list. The list showed 15 Ford GT40s, 12 Lotus Elans, 14 Ford Mustangs (including the Shelby Mustangs), 11 Jaguar E-Types, 8 Porsches 911, 8 MGBs, 5 Ford Falcons, 4 Austin Healeys, 4 Triumphs TR4s, 3 Marcos 1800 GTs and last but not least the very well prepared Nick Swift Austin Mini Countryman although this car wasn’t eligible for the race, it was entered in an ‘invitation’ class and not classified as a finisher in the result list. If it had been, it would have been 23rd overall !
Last year's winner Marcus Graf Von Oeynhausen and Nico Verdonck drove again the Ford GT40, of course with start number 1. For the experienced German and the young professional Belgian a second victory could be possible but there was strong opposition from the other GT40s with strong teams like Tony Wood/Martin Stretton, Jim Farley/Eric van de Poele, David Hart/Olivier Hart/Nicky Pastorelli.Qualification for this race was held Friday late in the afternoon and the top ten cars were all GT40s, Jim Farley/Eric van de Poele took pole position with a qulification time of 2.42.634. In second place was the GT 40 of Count Von Oeynhausen/Nico Verdonck (2.42.846). The race started punctually at 15:55 h. under very wet conditions and without any incidents. As the field drove up the long Kemmel uphill it dragged a long spray fountain behind. Because of the heavy rainfall the tyregrip changed constantly and slips and spins happened everywhere. During the whole race the top three positions changed almost every lap. After one hour the Dutch orange GT40 driven by David Hart lost control of the car in Blanchimont and hit the tire wall. The Dutchman started from third place with his team - son Oliver Hart and Nicky Pastorelli. Luckily he was unhurt. The car was completely damaged. Last year winners Count Von Oeynhausen/Nico Verdonck were also unlucky as they fell back with battery problems. The team which started from pole position Jim Farley/Eric van de Poele, also got into trouble, in lap 69 they had to withdraw with gearbox problems. Finally the team - Philip Walker / Miles Griffith / Gordon Shedden - was the winner in their GT 40, with 107 driven laps and a time of 5:59:03. Not a GT40 in second place but the team Wolfgang Friedrichs/Simon Hadfield/Michael Mallock in the Aston Martin DB4 GT DP214 with 104 driven laps and a time of 5:59:45. Just 2.6 seconds back and also 104 driven laps Nikolaus Ditting/Sam Hancock in a GT40 took the third podium place. In fourth place ended a Lotus Elan 26R driven by the team Anthony Hancock/Ollie Hancock/Joe Twyman. Will we see a Lotus Elan team on the podium next year ?
- Motor Racing Legends - Pre-War Sports Cars
In this race series all the famous pre-war marques are represented: Alfa Romeo, Alvis, Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Frazer Nash, Lagonda, MG, Riley, Talbot. Pre-War ‘Specials’ are allowed to join the Pre-War Sports cars series if there is available space on the grid. Such a special is the hand-crafted Menasco Pirate – a Riley chassis with a six-litre American Menasco air-racing engine. Bentley Engineering Director Dr Robin Tuluie drove the car to a pole position followed by Tim Llewellyn in a Bentley 3/8 Special. From the start of the race Llewellyn took the lead but spun the Bentley on lap 2, thus Tuluie took the lead. In second position was the GN Parker Special driven by father and son Maeers but they had to retire in lap 7 with a broken exhaust. Gareth Burnett (Alta Sports) took over second position. Third overall ended the 1260cc Morgan Super Aero three-wheeler of Ewan Cameron/Sue Darbyshire. Ewan Cameron even clocked the highest top speed of all cars with a staggering 159,1 kph !
- The Historic Touring Car Challenge (HTCC) with Tony Dron Trophy
The HTCC is for Group 5 cars up to 1969, Group 2 cars up to 1981 and Group A cars post ’81. Recently, the criteria was extended and now includes larger-engined turbo-charged cars such as Sierra RS500s. The Tony Dron Trophy is a stand-alone series for Group 1 Touring Cars. This Trophy is named in honour of the ‘70s Touring Car ace and Le Mans sports car driver Tony Dron. More than 40 cars were transported from the UK to the Spa-Francorchamps race track for two 30-minute races. In both races the front runners were the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworths, BMW M3 E30s and two Ford Capris RS3100. Race 1 was won by Steve Dance (Ford Capris RS3100) and Nick and Harry Whale won race 2 in a BMW M3 E30.
- The Royal Automobile Club Woodcote Trophy & The Stirling Moss Trophy
The Woodcote Trophy is open to original sports cars and selected sports racers from post-War up-to and including December 1955 and all cars must conform strictly to period specification. The Stirling Moss Trophy is for sports-racing cars built before 1961. Combining these two Trophies gave a very attractive field of cars of 51 cars on the grid in Belgium. In practice the light and nimble Lotus-Climax 15s of Oliver Bryant and Roger Wills were the quickest cars on the track. The Lotus 15 of Michael Gans even managed to reach the highest maximum speed of 218,8 km/h. During the 61-minutes race the Dutch team of father and son Hart proved again that they were unbeatable in the Lister-Costin Jaguar. With a gap of 47 seconds Tony Wood and Will Nuthall fnished second in a Lister Knobbly Jaguar. Roger Wills finished thrid in the Lotus 15.
- Weather conditions could have been better during the 27th edition of the Spa Six Hours event. No doubt that all teams will return to the beloved Ardennes roller coaster in 2020 as the Spa Six Hours is annually the most prestigious historic racing event.
- Pictures by Guus Docen
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