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Mega Gallery and Report: The Stunning Anniversary Edition of the Spa Six Hours!

Submitted by on September 26, 2017

Images and story by Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica.com

Buckle up for our extensive report on the anniversary edition of the Spa Six Hours held at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, situated in the Belgian Ardennes region.

Roadbook, managed by Alain Defaille and Vincent Collard, created a stunning 25th anniversary edition of the Spa Six Hours, which is one of Europe’s biggest historic motorsports events. With more than 650 cars present competing in 16 races and qualifying sessions divided over three days, the event is more than just a highlight.

For the anniversary edition the Spa Six Hours attracted drivers from 25 countries, including Austria, Australia, Brasil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Luxemburg, Monaco, Netherlands, New-Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Cars from the late ’40s until the early ’80s filled massive grids of Grand Prix cars from the ’50s and ’60s, Formula 1 cars from the FIA Masters Historic F1 Championship and Le Mans cars from the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship. Furthermore, Touring cars featured in both the Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars and U2TC Historic Motor Racing News were present as well as stunning sports cars from the Woodcote Trophy & Stirling Moss Trophy and a mixed field of cars hosted by the Historic Sports Car Club.

As a tribute to Barry Sidery Smith, the Spa One Hour Race was open to a great variety of cars built between the ’40s and ’70s.

The event also acted as a test event for the brand new Masters Endurance Legends championship, which will launch in 2018. This brand new series organised by the Masters Historic Organisation aims to attract sportsr acing cars from the International Sports Racing Legends, the FIA Sports Car Championship, European Le Mans Series, American Le Mans Series, Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and Le Mans Endurance Series.

Spa Six Hours

Highlight of the weekend was, of course, the six-hour endurance race held on Saturday afternoon and into the evening. The six-hour attracted a massive entry list presenting 120 cars, including 16 Ford GT40s!

Qualifying turned out a true GT40 battle, seeing 8 GT40s claiming the first 8 spots on the grid. Georg Nolte, Frank Stippler and Michael Funke drove their #9 GT40 to the pole. Just 0.9 of a second slower was the #55 GT40 of Chris Ward and Andrew Smith.

Instead of the wet conditions during the 2016 edition, this year the six hours were raced in dry conditions. Due to serious fog during the early morning, the programme suffered some delays and the six hour endurance race was reduced to 5 hours and 11 minutes.

From the very start on Saturday afternoon, GT40s dictated the race pace and a fierce battle emerged between the #9 and #55 GT40s. The German GT40 dominated during the first four hours of the race and the drivers even managed to win a lap on Chris Ward and Andrew Smith. However, in the end all went wrong during the fuel stop, during which they lost 2 laps. As a result Ward and Smith secured their first victory in the Spa Six Hours.

  1. Chris Ward/Andrew Smith Ford GT40
  2. Georg Nolte/Frank Stippler/Michael Funke Ford GT40 +2:34.924
  3. Jason Wright/Michael Gans/Andy Wolfe Ford GT40 + 2 laps

FIA Masters Historic F1 Championship

The F1 cars of the FIA Masters Historic F1 Championship took us back to the ’70s and ’80s when the Cosworth DFV engine dominated the pinnacle of motorsports. For their qualifying session 25 iconic F1 cars entered the Ardennes rollercoaster, including a welcome Lotus 81 and two remarkable ATS cars.

Briton Michael Lyons drove his Williams FW07B to a demanding pole position, followed by the Belgian count Christophe D’Ansembourg in his Williams FW07C and Briton Mike Cantillon in a Williams FW07.

During the first race on Saturday it all went wrong for Lyons in the formation lap. The pole sitter and championship leader saw his Cosworth DFV-engine expire, forcing him to retire. Belgian Loïc Demand drove in front of his home crowd from fifth position to victory.

Initially he had to fight D’Ansembourg for the lead in the race, but the Belgian got it wrong, spinning into Fagnes. This opened the way for Cantillon to finish second as D’Ansembourg finished third.

  1. Loïc Deman Tyrrell 010
  2. Mike Cantillon WilliamsFW07 +6.449
  3. Christophe D’Ansembourg Williams FW07C  +9.177

Sunday’s second race told a very different story as a heavy shower at the back of the track forced the drivers to start from behind the safety car.

Deman chose the wrong tyres, forcing him to retire after just 5 laps. Michael Lyons profited and drove a lonely race in front of the field, claiming overall victory and the pre-78 title.

The battle for second place was fought again between D’Ansembourg and Cantillon. This time the Belgian didn’t make any mistakes, giving him the second podium finish of the weekend in front of Cantillon.

  1. Michael Lyons Williams FW07B
  2. Christophe D’Ansembourg Williams FW07C  +16.158
  3. Mike Cantillon Williams FW07  +16.435

FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship

This throwback to the Le Mans 24 Hours during the 60s and 70s was created by a huge field of 50 sports cars entered for the FIA Masters Historic Sports Car Championship. Among the favourites were the mighty Lola T70s, but the smaller Lola prototypes turned out to be a force to be reckoned with.

Although the T70s were the most powerful cars, not every driver pairing succeeded in using it. Several drivers were struck by bad luck or made mistakes. Not so for the T70 Mk.IIIB of Leo Voyazides and Smon Hadfield. The Greek-British driver pairing drove a faultless race claiming the overall victory in their single 61-minute race. Second place went to the beautiful McLaren M6B of Andrew and Max Banks. Belgian Loïc Deman scored his second podium of the weekend by finishing third.

  1. Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Lola T70 Mk.IIIB
  2. Andrew Banks/Max Banks McLaren M6B +14.030
  3. Loïc Deman Chevron B19 +17.967

Stena Line Masters Pre-66 Gentlemen Drivers

Nearly 50 beautiful GTs from the sixties found their way to Spa including AC Cobras, Bizzarrinis, Jaguar E-Types, Lotus Elans, Ginettas, Porsche 911s, Austin Healeys, Triumphs and others.

Usually the qualifying pace is dominated by the Cobra, however this time it was the Bizzarrini 5300GT of Georg Nolte and Michael Funke that set the pace. The Chevy-powered Italian was followed by the Jaguar E-Type of Britons Julian Thomas and Calum Lockie and the Shelby Daytona Cobra from Leo Voyazides from Greece and Simon Hadfield from the UK.

The Cobras returned to the fore for the race. Graham and Oliver Bryant early on, but as Oliver Bryant overtook under yellow flags he was handed a post-race penalty and dropped from first to third place in the final results. American Michael Gans and Briton Andy Wolfe got the victory after starting from the very last spot.

  1. Michael Gans/Andy Wolfe AC Cobra
  2. Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Shelby Cobra Daytona +10.262
  3. Graham Bryant/Oliver Bryant AC Cobra +35.337

Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars

Big Americans dominated the Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars, although the Ford Lotus Cortinas and Mini Coopers were in the majority. Mike Gardiner and Phil Keen, both UK residents won qualifying and drove their Ford Falcon Sprint to the pole, followed by Roger Wills from New Zealand in a Mercury Comet Cyclone.

The single 61-minute race on Saturday morning was won by Mike Gardiner and Phil Keen, who drove their Falcon Sprint to a dominant victory. Roger Wills had no answer and could only follow. In the end he finished second, nearly 22 seconds behind the winning Falcon Sprint. The impressive Studebaker Lark Daytona of Harry Whale from the UK finished third.

  1. Mike Gardiner/Phil Keen Ford Falcon Sprint
  2. Roger Wills  Mercury Comet Cyclone  21.836
  3. Harry Whale Studebaker Lark Daytona  +38.746

Masters Endurance Legends

The 25th edition of the Spa Six Hours acted as a trial run for the new Masters Endurance Legends championship. From 2018 on, this new championship will be a regular competitor on the Masters calendar featuring some very interesting Le Mans-prototypes and GTs.

Amongst the several beauties on track were a Peugeot 908X, a Lola-Aston Martin DBR1-2, an Audi R8 LMP1, a Judd V10-powered Dallara SP1 and two very loud Ferrari 550/575 GTC Maranellos.

Shortly before the race, the heavens above Spa opened and flooded the track. Kriton Lendoudis from Greece started from the pole in the Peugeot 908X on slicks. The same went down for Belgian Christophe D’Ansembourg in the Lola-Aston Martin. As both drivers had to settle for rain tyres both dropped back.

The 40-minute race was finally won by Sean Doyle in a 2011 Oreca 03. Jonathan Kennard finished second and Mathieu Lahaye drove his splendid Pescarolo LMP1 to the final spot on the podium. The GT-division was won by Steve Zacchia in his immaculate Ferrari 550 GT1.

  1. Sean Doyle Oreca 03
  2. Jonathan Kennard Oreca LMP2 +2.395
  3. Mathieu Lahaye Pescarolo LMP1 +28.804

Historic Motor Racing News U2TC

The glory days of the European Touring Car Championship from the 60s relived in the Historic Motor Racing News U2TC featuring BMWs, Ford Lotus Cortinas, Alfa Romeos and Mini Coopers. The series is open to pre-66 touring cars under two litre.

Max and Ian Goff (UK) proved to be quickest in a BMW 1800 Ti, followed by the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint of fellow countrymen Andrew and Max Banks.

It was an impressive sight to see the rear-wheel-drive cars sliding across the demanding Spa-Francorchamps race track. In the end the Alfa Romeo of Max and Ian Goff turned out to be too quick and after 61-minutes they crossed the finish line first. Second place went to former British touring car ace Steve Soper, as Michael Gans from the US and Ivo Salvadori finished third.

  1. Andrew Banks/Max Banks Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA
  2. Steve Soper Ford Lotus Cortina +3.257
  3. Michael Gans/Ivo Salvadori  Alfa Romeo GTA +52.588

Woodcote Trophy – Stirling Moss Trophy

A great variety of cars from the 50s was provided by the combined race of the Woodcote Trophy and Stirling Moss Trophy. It created the atmosphere as seen during the ’50s in endurance racing featuring true iconic cars from those days such as the Lotus 15, Lister Chevrolet, Lister Knobbly, Jaguar D-Type, Cooper Monaco, Lister Costin and more.

The battle for the pole was fought on Saturday morning between three Listers. Jon Minshaw (UK) and fellow countryman Phil Keen drove their Lister Knobbly to the pole. Chris Ward and Andrew Smith scored the second time in a Lister Costin, followed by the Lister Knobbly of Tony Wood and William Nuthall.

Chris Ward and Andrew Smith raced in a league of their own as they finished nearly a minute in front of the Lotus 15 driven by Michael Gans. Dutchman David Hart drove his Lister Costin to the final spot on the podium.

  1. Chris Ward/Andrew Smith  Lister Costin
  2. Michael Gans  Lotus 15 +58.496
  3. David Hart Lister Costin +1:09.514

Historic Grand Prix Car Association

Grand Prix cars from the ’50s and ’60s pleased the crowds with their thrilling races on Saturday and Sunday. Sam Wilson drove two lonely races as his Lotus 18 proved to be too quick for his fellow drivers on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday Spaniard Joaquin Folch-Rusinol finished second, Max Blees from Switzerland crossed the finishline third. Andy Middlehurst finished second on Sunday, Joaquin Folch-Rusinol scored his second consecutive podium of the weekend by finishing third.

Race 1

  1. Sam Wilson Lotus 18
  2. Joaquin Folch-Rusinol Lotus 16 365 +40.286
  3. Max Blees Brabham BT7A +50.003

Race 2

  1. Sam Wilson Lotus 18
  2. Andy Middlehurst Lotus 25 R4 +25.821
  3. Joaquin Folch-Rusinol Lotus 16 365  +42.239

Spa One Hour

As a tribute to Barry Sidery-Smith, a well known MG trader and racer, the Spa One Hour race was held on Sunday morning open to a wide variety of cars. These included, of course, Morgans and a mixture of touring cars, GTs and even a Porsche 917 replica.

Father and son Graham and Oliver Bryant took the honours in their Morgan +8.

  1. Graham Bryant/Oliver Bryant Morgan +8
  2. Neil Fowler MG B GT V8 +6.284
  3. Eric Sechaud/Francois Sechaud Ford Escort +38.929

Historic Sports Car Club (closed wheel race)

The same variety in cars could be seen in the HSCC closed wheel race, dominated by sports prototypes from the 70s.

The first race on Saturday was won by Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield in their glorious Lola T282. Belgian Eric Mestdagh claimed victory during the second race on Sunday.

Race 1

  1. Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield Lola T282
  2. Guy Peeters Chevron B23  +15.209
  3. Eric Mestdagh GRD  + 15.977

Race 2

  1. Eric Mestdagh  GRD
  2. Bob Brooks/Vicky Brooks Lola T212 +18.045
  3. George Douglas Martin BM9 +18.891

Jaguar Classic Challenge

New on the massive Spa Six Hours programme was the Jaguar Classic Challenge intended only for Jaguar cars. Thirty cars filled the grid including 22 E-Types, two XK120s, three XK150s, two Mk.1s and a single Mk.2.

The 61-minute race was won by Graeme and James Dodd in an E-Type.

  1. Graeme Dodd/James Dodd Jaguar E-Type
  2. Andrew Newall/Rhea Sautter Jaguar E-Type +1:13.322
  3. Lukas Halusa/Niklas Halusa Jaguar E-Type  +2:30.678

Despite the changeable weather conditions and cold and foggy weather on Saturday morning, the 25th anniversary edition of the Spa Six Hours was the best that Roadbook has put on so far. We are already counting down the days until the 26th edition in September 2018!

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