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Spa-Francorchamps, 2nd - 3rd of June, 2015

For more than 30 years Modena Motorsport based in Langenfeld at the River Rhine is specialist in vintage and contemporary Ferrari and their restoration and race preparation. Back in the days of the Ferrari Challenge the company built up a reputation both for the sports and particularly for the F1 cars making them the first international base outside the factory to run the F1 Clienti program. Especially these Ferrari F1 cars from the different eras need a proper preparation and must be driven regularly to keep them running. Unlike the street cars or the vintage race cars with road registration they are very much limited to track days and special events to run them on the different circuits to enjoy them to the fullest. More than 20 years ago Modena Motorsport introduced the track days on the nearby Nürburgring or at Spa-Francorchamps and since the end of the Historic Challenge they become even more important within the scene.

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Organized every second year the track days returned at the first week of June to the famous track in the Ardennes for the second consecutive time after the last track days help at the Nürburgring in 2011. Open for modern street and race cars, historic Le Mans and sports cars from every marque with focus on Ferrari and certainly a small but selective group of F1 cars although one has to note that they are becoming less and less used these days. Arriving Tuesday morning in the paddocks only two Ferrari F1 of the Schumacher era and the 126 C2 as driven by Villeneuve were prepared for the day and with some rain showers earlier in the morning with a slippery track there was no track session for them in the morning. With a lunch break regulated by the Belgium law the timetable had to be re-written anyway so the F1 got two outings in the afternoon but unfortunately the track remained empty apart from two Formula Renault racers taking their time and a few laps of the 126 C2. Next day was not much better but fortunately the 312 T4 of the Stieger collection showed up to be driven for a few laps on Wednesday.

Much more used was the track time for the modern street and race cars. With several 458 Italia owners taking the opportunity to drive them apart from modern traffic and road restrictions several Ferrari from the 8-cylinder line plus a few F12 and 599 GTB/GTO were playing with the counterparts from Zuffenhausen with several 911 GT street cars could be seen that day as well.

One of the features this week was a selection of no less than 5 Koenigsegg brought by the German distributor including a “One:1” named after the very impressive power to weight ratio.

More important are these meetings for the race cars without road registration and several former Ferrari Challenge racers ranging from the first Challenge winning 348 to the latest 458 GT3 racers could be seen running alongside the GT3 versions of the all new McLaren MP4-12C and the Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS. As the group was named after the race at La Sarthe a genuine Le Mans participating Aston Martin DBR9 was chasing its “grandfather”, the reconstructed Aston DP214 project car.

This also leads to the classic cars that are attracting a lot of interest both in the pit lane and track side for the paying spectators making their way to Spa on a working day. This included a bunch of Alfa GTA as seen on many driving event nowadays, the Ford V8 powered GT40 and AC Cobra Daytona coming from the same well known stable, a brutal De Tomaso Group 4 and several Maserati and Porsche. Brought over by Methusalem´s Restorations especially the Maserati shone this week with a 150S, two 300S, a 250F Piccolo and the Tipo 63 Birdcage. Also impressive was the line-up of Porsche ranging from an early 356 Carrera both in normal configuration but also as Abarth GTL, a Porsche 904 GTS, a 906 Carrera and even a rare 907 LH. The 907 was prepared for another event later that week (presumable for a Le Mans celebration at Porsches return to win at Le Mans this weekend) and therefore was sorted out on a few laps at the hilly course.

Ferrari on the other hand was a little bit under represented this week, with a 166 MM/53 Touring Barchetta and a 225 S Vignale Spider on the Vintage side and a duo of 275 GTB. Regular entrants at the track days are the 512M and the 512 BBLM as well as the 312 PB from Stiegers, star might have been the original Sebring running Ferrari Dino 206 GT (00306) still fresh from restoration to former glory.

Unfortunately more and more classic cars are rarely raced and driven but more on the show circuit so the concours during the lunch break on Wednesday was very well expected by the visitors. First the original Fiat Ferrari Race transporter made its way from the back of the pit lane to the start finish line to make the background for the line-up. Equipped with the Dino 246 Tasman racer from the late Fabrizio Violati collection as sold at last year’s Bonhams Monterey Auction the car was one of the eye catchers of the weekend. In several classes the international Jury including Uwe Meisner himself, Mister Le Mans Jacky Ickx and Ferrari historian Keith Bluemel had to choose their favourite ranging from a green 512 BB up to the Best of Show winning 212 Inter Ghia Berlinetta (0225EL) that was just restored on behalf of his new owner Anthony Hertzenberger, son of the original owner back in the days of the delivery.

So what is the conclusion of the two days at Spa? Certainly the track days are not as exciting to visit as a spectator as they were years ago when people were still more interested in driving their cars rather than protecting their investment. Just as at the current auction circus the newer supercars are taking over and for those interested in them the trip to Spa was a must. One does rarely see a Koenigsegg, not to mention 5 of them. In addition one could both see an Enzo and the new LaFerrari plus a very exotic Isdera Imperator, the poster car of the 1980s.

The track days are certainly less a spectator event but an owners event were the fast supercars and valuable classic cars could be driven without the risk of traffic and the stress of timing on a race weekend. Drivers of different abilities can work on their driving skills and getting some first-hand tips from Jacky Ickx to find the proper race line.

Report & image … Peter Singhof