Friday, 20 October 2023 15:59
30th Spa Six Hours - Francorchamps 27 September-1 October 2023Written by Guus Docen
For the 30th edition of the Spa Six Hours Meeting the format and time schedule got a facelift and the event was now spread over 5 days. On Wednesday the 27th, the circuit was available for drivers to experience the track during non-timed free practice sessions, while qualifying took place on Thursday the 28th. Friday and Saturday the races were held. Sunday the BEHVA (BElgian Historic Vehicle Association) and organizer Roadbook joined forces to allow oldtimer owners and drivers to enjoy the track.
- The Spa Six Hours 6-hour race
Eighty-seven cars were registered for the six hours endurance race. The best chance to secure yourself from a result in the top ten is to enter the race in a Ford GT40. There were eighteen of these successful long-distance racing vehicles on the starting grid in the GTP+ class. The other classes were filled with various Lotus Elans, Ford Mustangs and Falcons, Shelby Cobras, Shelby Daytona Coupes, Jaguar E-Types, Porsche 911s, MGBs, Triumphs TR4 and even a Fiat-Abarth 1000 TC with three Italian drivers. With a best training time of 3.07.361 minutes, Marcus Graf von Oeynhausen was the fastest GT40 driver, followed by Oliver Bryant in second place with a time of 3.09.602 minutes. In third place behind the Graf was Nikolaus Ditting with a time of 3.10.519 minutes , next to him David Hart with 3.11.991 minutes. During the first 13 laps the equippe Oeynhausen/Verdonck (Ford GT40) were in the lead. From lap 14 the GT40 equippe Griffiths/Shedden/Priaulx took over the lead. True to tradition of this endurance race there were several race incidents with cars going of track. There were eight safety car periods and several GT40-teams, including Bryant-Cottingham, Hart-Hart-Pastorelli, Ditting-Hancock and Pearson-Brundle weren’t able to finish the race. The order of the teams in second and third position was changing constantly. In the last hour the Oeynhausen/Verdonck GT40 was in second place but a severe brake failure forced them to make a pitstop and it appeared the mechanics weren’t able to solve the problem within a few minutes so they decided to finish the race at a much slower pace. The Lotus Elan of the Jordan-Tordoff-Dorlin had already made much progress, from starting position 31 as they moved their tiny Lotus flawlessly through the field of Ford GT 40s when they finally managed to get in second place in front of the poor braking GT40. In the penultimate lap also the Wood-Nuthall-Lyons GT40 team were able to pass the Oeynhausen/Verdonck GT40. So Griffiths/Shedden/Priaulx won the race followed by the Jordan-Tordoff-Dorlin equippe in the Lotus Elan and a third place on the podium for Wood-Nuthall-Lyons. A notable result was that the Tessaro brothers from Italy finishing in a 57th position in their small Fiat-Abarth 1000 TC! Would be great if more small touring cars enter the Six Hours race next year.
- HGPCA - Pre '66 Grand Prix Cars Friday afternoon the first race of the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association was held and they had to deal with rain midway through the race. This led to countless pirouettes. The Coopers T53 and T79 dominated in the provisional top 6 and it was Tim Child's Brabham BT3/4 that emerged to win ahead of Michael Gans (Cooper T79) and Rudi Friedrichs (Cooper T53). Friedrichs had been leading for a long time but encountered gearbox problems at the very end of the race. It was expected that from the started front-engined cars, the Maserati 250F driven by John Spiers would end up in the top ten but he ran off track at Les Combes, allowing Mark Shaw to win in the American Scarab Offenhauser, ahead of the two Cooper Bristol Mk2s of Ian Nuthall and Paul Grant. After the victory of Tim Child's Brabham BT3/4 the day before, the Coopers took a dazzling revenge on Saturday. It was Michael Gans who took the lead, taking a fine victory in the Cooper T79. Gans held off Justin Maeers' Cooper T53 to the finish, while Briton Andy Middlehurst, in an ex-Jim Clark Lotus 25, got the better of Tim Child, whose car suffered engine problems. John Spiers made a comeback in the front-engined category, winning ahead of the Cooper Bristol Mk2s of Ian Nuthall and Paul Grant.
- Belcar Historic Cup
While the weather forecasts were rather optimistic for Friday, a torrential downpour hit the circuit during Race 1 in the afternoon ! In these very tricky conditions, the impressive Belcar Historic Cup field experienced some very intense moments, with repeated tyre changes and countless incidents. Having opted for slicks, Guy Fastres (BMW M3 E30) retained the lead until the Bavarian car crashed into the guard rail just before the Double Left corner! With other incidents occurring at the same time, the red flag was waved... and Fastres was declared the winner ahead of Eric Nulens (Porsche 964) and Italian Ilaria Stalliviera driving a first-generation Renault Clio equipped with conventional tyres! A few hours later, a salvo of penalties changed the classification once again, and it was Ilaria Stalliviera who was declared the winner! Michel Kowaleski (Ford Escort Mk2) won the Oldtimers category ahead of Eric Damseaux (Mini Cooper S) and Britain's Harry Barton (BMW 2002)! After the severe weather conditions of Friday, the second race on Saturday was held under optimal conditions. The powerful Ford Capri 3100 RS driven by Dutchman Wim Kuijl was back to the front within two laps followed by the Corvette C4 of the Belgian Luc Branckaerts. Dutchman Kuijl won the race ahead of Luc Branckaerts. Erik Qvick's BMW 320i E36 STW finished third.
- Pre-war on Sunday
The field of pre-war vehicles offered some pretty cars of which most of them were Bentleys. Although the 1921 GN Parker of Justin and Charles Maeers had taken pole position, technical problems caused that they feld back in the field of '20s and '30s sportscars. Rudi Friedrichs (Alvis Firefly Special) and Gareth Burnett (Talbot 105) both benefitted from these circumstances as they successively topped the standings... until they got into trouble themselves! Ross Keeling and Callum Lockie then won with their magnificent Delahaye 135 ahead of Christopher Mann's Alfa Romeo 8C Monza and Martin Halusa's Bugatti Type 35!
- Masters Gentlemen Drivers & Pre-66 Touring Cars
Saturday-morning began with a 90-minutes semi-endurance race. A fierce battle occured between some Jaguar E-Types, two TVR Griffiths, a Shelby Cobra Daytona and a Lotus Elan 26R. Starting from pole position, John Spiers' TVR held on to the leading group, before Nigel Greensall (also a TVR Griffith) propelled himself to the top of the standings to take a superb victory ahead of the Jaguar E-Type of Gary and John Pearson and the Lotus Elan 26R of Giles Dawson. In the 60 minutes touring car race, Sam Tordoff won by force majeure in his Ford Falcon Sprint, ahead of the Ford Mustang of Jake Hill and Rob Fenn, and the Ford Falcon of Richard McAlpine.
- Masters Sports Car Legends
The Lolas dominated the race of the Masters Sports Cars Legends, even though American Kyle Tilley tried to interfere with his Chevron B23. Unfortunately, brake problems propelled the car into the Les Combes emergency lane, before it retired to the pitlane. Diogo Ferrao from Portugal drove his Lola T292 together with Briton Martin Stretton to victory ahead of the Lola T70s of Jason Wright and the Stephan Joebstl-Andy Willys duo. Alexander Furiani and Belgian François Fabri took 4th place in a Chevron B19.
- Masters Racing Legends – Formula 1 Cars 66-85
It started raining just before fifteen formula 1 cars (dating from 1971 to 1982) drove their formation lap In the game of tyre roulette, some opted for slicks, others for rain tyres. Although poleman Mike Cantillon (Williams FW07C) got off to the best start, the Irishman made a mistake shortly after passing La Source, allowing Nick Padmore (Lotus 711) to take the lead. After a Safety Car period caused by Yutaka Toriba (Williams FW05) running off the track, Cantillon caught up with the leading pack and went on to impose his ex-Keke Rosberg car ahead of Padmore's ex-Gunnar Nilsson Lotus and Ken Tyrrell (Tyrrell 011). It was Maximilian Werner who totally dominated race 2 on Saturday of the historic F1 cars at the wheel of the ex-Nelson Piquet Brabham BT49, in front of the Tyrrell 011 of American Ken Tyrrell and the Williams FW07-C of Irishman Mike Cantillon. In the non-ground-effect single-seaters category, it was Nick Padmore's Lotus 77 that took another victory, well ahead of Ewen Sergison's Surtees TS9B.
- Masters Endurance Legends
A more impressive starting grid for the Masters Endurance Legends, with 19 cars on the grid. In the absence of Christian Gläsel's Pescarolo-Judd, which crashed during qualifying, the race was led in the opening laps by the two Peugeot 90Xs of Steve Brooks and Stuart Wiltshire. Brooks crashed his Peugeot in lap 5 and the safety car entered the track. When the track was clear, Wiltshire took off to win ahead of Olivier Galant's HPD ARX03 and Antoine d'Ansembourg's Dallara Oreca. In the GT category, the Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Christophe Van Riet and Eric Mestdagh led for a long time, before the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Claude Bovet and David McDonald took the lead to win the GT category. The Belgian national anthem sounded on Saturday morning at the end of Race 2 as Antoine d'Ansembourg won the race in his ex-Didier Theys Dallara-Oreca ahead of the Lola-Judd of Briton Steve Tandy and the Zytek 09S of Canadian Keith Frieser. In the GT category, another win for the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Swiss driver Claude Bovet and Briton David McDonald, who again beat the Chrysler Viper GTS-R of Belgian drivers Christophe Van Riet and Eric Mestdagh.
- Sport Proto 2000
The smallest starting field of the weekend and actually a bit of a shame with only seven cars on the grid for a 60 minutes race ! Four of those seven cars were Chevron B8s. The Roadbook organization decided to turn the raceclock back to 45 minutes ! It seems SportProto2000 is a new series organized by Germans that will fully unfold in 2024….
- The first edition of this event in 1993 was a race on Sunday with training in the morning and the actual race in the afternoon with just 40 cars. The growth of this event went quickly, especially due to the participation of the British racing clubs. During the years more than 70 percent of the drivers and racing teams at the Six Hours event came from Britain. Since Brexit this number has dropped significantely because of the financial and administrative hassle to travel to the European mainland and back with a racing car on a trailer. No Formula Junior Lurani Trophy or RAC Woodcote Trophy & The Stirling Moss Trophy this year. Already 5 years ago the Historic Sport Cars Club had their last touring car race at the Spa Six Hours. Understandable when you can also drive your racing car on various nice circuits in your home country. All European classic racing organizers suffer from Brexit. For every organizer a big challenge to have a fully booked event which will attract many visitors… Pictures Guus Docen
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