Monday, 11 July 2022 11:50
Spa-Francorchamps Summer Classic 23-26 June 2022Written by Guus Docen
This fourteenth edition of the Spa Summer Classic, organized by Roadbook events, promised a multitude of races for Touring Cars and GT Cars from the 60s, 70s and 80s as well as a category of Youngtimers, until the beginning of the 2000s. The meeting also welcomed Single Seaters (Formula cars) from the 60s and 70s. and a Caterham race. The whole weekend at Spa had an European flavour, as there were racing teams from Great Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark and Luxembourg. Most important race of this weekend is a 3-hour endurance race, on Saturday-evening, for Touring Cars and GTs from before '76.
- This weekend all drivers could experience the alterations of the track which is the first phase of an impressive renovation of the entire Spa Francorchamps complex. Reconstruction began on November 15 2022 as part of an €80m government-backed refurbishment. Until now €25m has been spent on alterations of the track. The changes are intended to improve the safety standards for car and bike races. One of the objectives was to meet double FIA/FIM official approval to allow for the return of the MotoGP next year. More run-off space has been added to the world famous Eau Rouge/Raidillon section after several serious incidents in the past few years. Sadly, the recognisable chalet at the top of the corner has been demolished to allow a large grandstand. Large gravel traps have returned to most corners to make the track safer for motorcyclists. This weekend I could experience that all these gravel traps can disturb a race for motorcars for quite some time. When a car went off track, most of the time it ended up in a gravel trap and got stuck up to its axles into the gravel and impossibly could free itself. At that moment the safety car procedure started and a recovery vehicle had to tow the car out of the grid.
- The weather conditions are always an important factor at Spa-Francorchamps, also this year the weather conditions were quite extreme as there were temperatures ranging to 30 degrees Celsius on the Thursday, to heavy rainshowers and thunder storms on Sunday afternoon. The heavy downpour on Friday evening brought out two red flags and ultimately cut the Spa 3 Hours qualifying session short.
- The Spa 3 Hours was one of the highlights of the Spa Summer Classic this year. This three hour endurance race was scheduled for Saturday evening, starting just before seven o'clock. The weather was fine on Saturday evening, there was the sunshine over the entire the circuit of Spa-Francorchamps almost until the end of the race. Sixty nine cars entered the three-hour race. On pole was the Shelby Cobra of Fred Bouvy and Cristophe Van Riet. The second fastest time during qualifying was for the Lotus Elan of the British equippe Graham Wilson and David Pittard. On the second row stood the Porsche 911 3.0 RS of Lars Rolner and Pierre-Alain Thibaut and the Jaguar E Type of Rhea Sautter and Andrew Newall. Bouvy/Van Riet's Shelby Cobra took the lead from the start and it soon became apparent that the opposition had to come from the other Cobras from Breittmayer and Adriaans/Verkuijlen, or the Jaguar E-Type of Sautter/ Newall as the Wilson/Pittard Elan fell back within a few laps and they had to retire in lap 32 due to technical problems. For a short while the Porsche of Rolner/Thibaut got into the lead, but it soon became apparent that no one was up to the strong Gipimotor Shelby Cobra. The Jaguar E-type of Sauter/Newall finished second ahead of the Porsche of Rolner/Thibaut.
- With more than 500 participants the Spa Summer Classic is a great event which deserves to attract more visitors especially when one considers that admission is free for all three days and gives access to all the stands, grandstands and paddocks inside the circuit. Pictures Guus Docen
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