1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

® ®
Made with StudioLine Made with StudioLine
Made with StudioLine

Spa-Francorchamps, 21st - 23rd of September

The history of the Six Hours race at the famous circuit in the Ardennes is already 20 years old and within this time the long distance race became a fixed date in autumn. The idea of founders Alain Defalle and Vincent Collard was to show pre-1965 GT and Touring cars to run into the nightfall over a full 6 hours, a concept that has not changed over all the years. Whereas most of the international race series feature sprint races up to one hour this is a rare opportunity for the owners of these cars to run over a longer distance and into the night.

103 cars and their driver teams were lined up in the paddocks to take the 7 km (4.35 miles) “rollercoaster” in the Ardennes, a regular circuit in the Formula 1 calendar and a favourite of many drivers due to the unique character. Although state of the art in safety the journey up and down the hill with famous passages like the hairpin at La Source, the high speed corner Raidillon (better known as Eau Rouge), the Kemmel straight and Les Combes at the back of the track or Blanchimont are a challenge both for cars and drivers. After the practice on Friday evening as expected the fastest cars on track were not less than 9 Ford GT 40, with a very fast Chevrolet Corvette in between. Other front runners were the Cobras and some Jaguar E-Types. The diversity in the race ranged from these pure racers to race prepared MG Bs, Porsche 911, some Austin Healeys and as a first timer (according to the press releases of the organizers) a Ferrari (250 GT SWB s/n 1811GT, that also raced in Goodwood the week before) was entered.

With that many cars in different categories on the track many entrant had their special moment in these 360 minutes due to misunderstanding when lapping slower cars but also due to technical problems. The Ford GT40 of the Team Kjallgren, Littlejohn and Nearburg lost their passenger door and drove without that to a 13th position. Although this was surely not good for the aerodynamics on the long Kemmel straight the taped entry definitely reduced heat in the car. Even worse was an incident for the Cobra with number 31 that lost its rear wheel after 27 laps coming out of Combs at full speed to spin out into the guardrail. Fortunately the car did not come back on the road and all the following cars were able to pass without crashing into the wreck. Very lucky was the Ford GT40 No.66 driven by Stahl, Ludwig and Barth that spun in one of the last laps at La Source, a place where you do not want to stand the wrong way round during the night seeing the lights of the onrushing followers coming towards you but fortunately a crash was avoided and the Ford finished sixth overall. Without problems were the winners Voyazides and Hadfield in their red GT40 after 114 laps defeating 5 times Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro teaming up with Shaun Lynn in another GT40. The podium was completed by the Corvette Grand Sport of Campagne/Kalff.

Although the long distance classic is the name giving main race of the weekend the race meeting featured a lot more races from different race series. The autumn meeting is also part of the race calendar of the Masters Series, the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association, the HSCC and the Motor Racing Legends.
The Masters Series alone had 5 series in its second to last meeting this year. The Grand Prix Masters featured the Formula 1 cars built between 1966 and 1985 in 2 sprint races on Saturday and Sunday with cars like the winning Ensign N180, Williams FW07/D or McLaren M26.

The Master Sports Cars was run over a full hour on Sunday and featured several Lola T70 and Chevron B8 as this series is run for sports cars and prototypes of the era 1962-1974 whit several classes sorted by age and engine capacity. The race was won by historic car dealer Gregor Fisken and historic car racer Peter Hardman in a McLaren M1C.

The Gentlemen Drivers Series had a very similar entry list to the six hours race as it is announced for pre-1966 sports car run in the World Endurance Championship in period. This race was the last race on Sunday evening and with 100 minutes the longest after the six hours. The winning AC Cobra of Le Blanc/Greensall finished 30 laps followed by a Lotus 11 and a Elan.

Also part of the Masters Series is the Touring Car Race named Top Hat All Series with several Ford Lotus Cortina (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year), a lot of Austin Mini and Ford Mustang. Just in the last laps of this race a car lost a lot of oil in the S-turn of Fagnes. Although the Marshalls tried to warn the following cars with the red/yellow oil-flag one after the other car went into the gravel making the corner look like a junkyard within second. So the race was red flagged but fortunately none of the drivers was seriously injured although especially an Aston Martin DB5 looked very bad with deep impacts on both sides.

The last of the five Master races was the CanAm Interserie or Masters Prototype Challenge including two Porsche 962, both in Jägermeister livery, several Lola and a duo of Spice finishing first and third in the 40 minutes race on Saturday morning.

The Historic Grand Prix Car Association had the second to last meeting in Spa this year before their final at Imola later in October. As the name indicates this race is for historic Formula cars built before 1966 in several classes for the front and the rear engined single seaters. The oldest car on track this weekend was the ERA R1B that was also seen the week before in Goodwood. Unfortunately this was the only car in this class so it had to duel with much younger cars like a Lotus 16 or a Ferrari Dino. Fastest cars were the later rear engined Brabham BT4 and Lotus 18/21.

The Historic Sports Car Club contributed two races to the program with a Sports Car and a Formula Junior race on both days. The Sports Car race was dominated by a quintet of Chevron B8 running in their own league followed by Jaguar E-types and Lotus Elans.

Highlight that weekend was the Woodcote & Stirling Moss Trophy run by the Motor Racing Legends. The Woodcote Trophy is announced for Sports Car built before 1955 and the Stirling Moss Trophy for those before 1961. In classes divided by the engine capacity up to 2 litre, between 2 and 3 litre and above for drum and disc brakes models several Jaguar C- and D-Type could be seen racing against Lister Knobbly, Maserati 250S and 300S. Other cars of interest were a couple of Aston Martin DB2 and DB3 but the race was won by a Lotus 15 followed by a Maserati T61 Birdcage.

Over the entire weekend about 650 cars could be seen in the races. As most of the series have their origin in the UK it was not a surprise that most of the trailers and caravans in the paddocks came from the isle. When listening to the national anthems during the winners ceremonies the Queen was saved by God regularly with a few exceptions, being known as sportsmen and keen in everything with tradition historic racing is still a British favourite. Some of the entrants raced in several series and some cars were even driven down to Spa on the road, but most of them came with professional support from the major restoration shops.

Now the caravan will move on to their last meetings in Imola or at the Algarve to finalize the season but next year most of them will be back at Spa when the Six Hours will go in their third decade.
We have now put together some images from all the races that weekend, a more detailed gallery with all the interesting cars will follow during the next days.

Text & images ... Peter Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de