Thursday, 21 October 2021 19:44
28th Spa Six Hours - Francorchamps 30 September-3 October 2021Written by Guus Docen
Covid-19 made it quiet at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the Belgian Ardennes for a long time. Finally the organizers of the Spa Six Hours, Roadbook (Alain Defalle and Vincent Collard) got the green light from the government for their traditional long distance race-weekend. Not only the drivers but also the spectators were eager to travel to the 7 kilometre long track. The organizers had chosen a subtitle for the event as well. The motto for the entire weekend was “Spa Six Hours - “The Sound of History”. There were 87 entries for the most important race of this event, the Six Hours race. Some grids of the other races were not as full as in previous years but that’s understandable as the majority of the teams come from the UK and travelling from the UK and back again is still an issue in the light of Covid-19.
- The Six Hours Race
Just as in previous years the entries with the legendary Ford V8 engine are numerous. Of the 87 entries there were twelve Ford GT40s and ten AC Cobras/Daytona Coupes. Other entries with this engine were the Ford Mustangs, Falcons Sprint, a Galaxie 500 and the TVR Griffith 400. The GT40s and Cobras form a class of it’s own. Other entries which could threaten the GT40s were the Jaguar E-types. There were twelve Porsche 911s with their characteristic high-revving loud boxer engines and nine Lotus Elans. Other marques entering this race were MGBs Triumph TR4s, Marcos, Ginetta, Elva, and Aston Martin. All 86 registered starters together ensured an impressive sound experience. With a laptime of 2:39,827, German Markus Graf von Oeynhausen, who shared the car with Frank Stippler, put their GT40 on pole position. Next on pole was the GT40 from Farley/van der Poele with a best time of 2:41,093. On the second row of the grid and third in qualifying was the orange GT40 driver by father and son Hart and Nicky Pastorelli. They shared the second row with the GT40 from Oliver Bryant and James Cottingham. The starting rows 3 to 6 were also occupied by entirely GT40s. The first Cobra could be found on row 7, driven by C. van Riet and F. Bouvy. with a qualifying time of 2:47,916. Next to the Cobra was the first Jaguar E-Type with a best time of 2: 48: 307. The best qualification (15th) for a 4-cylinder car was the Elva GT160 driven by the trio Gareth Burnett, Richard Bradley en French driver Minassian. The race was started exactly at 4:00 p.m. Belgium Eric van der Poele drove away from pole setter Frank Stippler. But already in the second lap Frank Stippler fell back significantly and the GT40 from Hart/Pastorelli was in second place, behind the leading GT40 from van der Poele. At the end of the third lap the lead had changed again and Hart /Pastorelli's GT40 was in front. The two main factors to finish a long distance race are the preparation of the team and the capability of the drivers to control the car at a constant racing pace for 6 hours without major faults. The burgundy coloured GT40 from Oeynhausen/Stippler was unlucky from the start. The snap lock the left fuel filler cap got unlocked, so in right-hand bends there was always a heavy surge of petrol streaming straight over the left side of the body. At La Source the petrol reached the red hot brake disc and the left front side was covered with flames. Fortunately the burning GT40 could still turn into the old pit entrance and be extinguished there immediately. In lap 26, Pastorelli's GT40, which was in second place, had to be refueled and once ready to drive from the petrol station the gear lever got stuck in reverse. That was the end of race for the orange GT40. During the next four hours the leading GT40s changed position in the race quit often due to the necessary refueling stops, which have to be carefully considered at Spa as radio communication with the pit crew is prohibited, only the classic box boards can be used. At half-distance, GT40s filled the top seven places, led by the Tony Wood/Miles Griffith GT40 with Oliver Bryant getting closer and closer (without fourth gear already for two hours!) . Next up, a Lotus Elan, a Shelby Cobra again a Lotus Elan and the Elva GT160 of Gareth Burnett. In the last hour the Bryant/Cottingham GT40 slipped quietly into the lead and it began to rain. The dark blue Ford GT40 of OliverBryant and James Cottingham kept their lead and crossed the line first, followed by Andy Newell and Craig Davis (Ford GT40). Richard Meins/Chris Lillingston Price/Andrew Bentley drove their Ford GT40 to third position. The Burnet/Bradley/Minassian Elva GT160 finished 8th overall, just ahead of Lynn/Haddon/Lynn (Lotus Elan).
- Masters Historic Sport Cars
Under excellent weather conditions on Friday Oliver Bryant dreove his T70 Mk3B to pole position followed closely by Tom Bradshaw’s 2-litre 4-cylinder Chevron B19. The weather conditions Sunday-morning were completely different with heavy showers. Bryant took the lead but in lap 13 he was forced to retire with an electrical issue. Bradshaw took over but the engine began to sputter in the penultimate lap. Manfredo Rossi came closer in the Abarth-Osella PA1, grapped the lead and won the race.
- Historic Grand Prix Cars
Will Nuthall won the Saturday’s race for pre-66 Grand Prix cars in the Cooper T53, Phil Keen finished remarkably second in the Lotus 18 after he had to start from the back of the grid and stormed through the field. Both drivers starting from the front row on a very wet Sunday-afternoon but again Will took the lead but Keen was capable to pass Will in lap 2 to take victory by some 11 seconds.
- Stirling Moss Trophy & Woodcote Trophy
Forty-six cars entered the combined Stirling Moss Trophy and Woodcote Trophy on Saturday afternoon. James Cottingham and Harvey Stanley drove their Tojeiro-Jaguar to victory. Michael Gans finished second in the ultra-light Lotus XV. Dutchmen Hans Hugenholtz and Nicky Pastorelli drove the Lister Costin Jaguar into the top three.
- Motor Racing Legends Pre-War Sports-Cars
Just nineteen entries for this 40-minutes race but what a battle it was between the 1928 Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica driven by Frederick Wakeman and Blakeney-Edwards and the 1921 GN Parker driven by Justin and Ben Maeers. Almost every lap of this race both cars changed position. Finally the Frazer Nash won the race by 0.368 seconds !
- Touring Cars
The absence of the HSCC Closed Wheel races caused a the lack of sixties touring cars like Lotus Cortinas, Alfa Romeo GTAs, BMWs and Mini Coopers. Fortunately there were the Masters Pre-66 Touring Car race and the Motor Racing Legends Historic Touring Car Challenge and Tony Dron Trophy (with U2TC and STCC). In the latter twenty-two interesting cars from the seventies and eighties were entered for two races on Saturday- and Sunday-morning. There were two Nissan Skylines, three Escorts RS1600, four BMW M3 E30s, a beautiful BMW 3.0 CSL and a 635 CSi. From the Netherlands came a very well prepared Ford Capri RS3100 driven by Oliver Hart and Nicky Pastorelli. Another rather special Capri in this field was the South-African Ford Capri Perana, a Mark I Capri with a 5.0 Litre V8 Mustang engine. In the early seventies the Perana Capri was driven in the South African touringcar championship with much success. The actual car seen at Francorchamps was prepared by VA Engineering in the Netherlands. In the race on Saturday the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth of Paul Mensley and Matthew Ellis took the lead but finally spun of the track and the Skyline GT-R of Ric Wood and Jake Hill won the race. In the Sunday race the first four laps the two Nissans dominated the race but in the end the Simon Garred’s Skyline won the race. The Mensley/Ellis Sierra Cosworth finished second and third was the awesome BMW 3.0 CSL driven by father and son Halusa. Ric Wood and Jake Hill finished fourth in their Skyline.
- What a brilliant race-weekend it was, we can count ourselves very lucky that it happened after all. The Roadbook organization did a great job again and I’m looking forward to attend the 29th edition of the Spa Six Hours !
- Pictures Guus Docen
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