Report and photos by Marcel Hundscheid
Peter Auto hosted the third edition of the Spa Classic over the weekend from May 24-26, 2013 on Belgium’s legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
During the end of May you would expect some nice spring-like temperatures, but the weather in Europe is far from ideal lately. A cold northeastern wind and some snowflakes greeted participants on Friday morning, with temperatures barely above freezing – even with sunshine. Saturday started better but in the afternoon the qualifying session of Classic Endurance Racing 1 had to be stopped due to a shower as everybody entered the track on slick tyres. On Sunday the bad weather only continued with a lot of heavy rain.
Despite the weather, around 13,000 spectators found their way to the track as the organisation had an excellent programme in store featuring nine different competing grids. The paddocks were crowded as over 1000 club cars were on display. Classic Endurance Racing sports cars and GTs, Group C prototypes, Spa-Jubilee — a unique race featuring classic Porsche 911s, and the Spa-Classic Endurance Tourisme 1 and 2 paid tribute to the legendary Spa 24 Hours with a day race and a night race. Sixties’ Endurance filled the grid with no less than 60 classic GTs and touring cars, as the Trofeo Nastro Rossa paid tribute to a grid especially dedicated to pre-66 Italian Sports and GTs. Last but not least, the British Historic Formula Championship settled down in the Ardennes for two races giving spectators a chance to taste the shapes, sound and spirit from the seventies.
The entry list for Classic Endurance Racing was so big that the entire field had to be divided into two different grids featuring CER1 open to GT (1966/1974) and Prototypes (1966/1971) as well as CER 2 open to GT (1975/1979) and Prototypes (1972/1979). Forty-five cars started the qualifying sessions on Friday including Lola T70s, Ford GT40s, Chevron B8/B16s. Sadly the entered Alfa Romeo T33/3 driven by Erik Maris only appeared on Friday. The entered Porsche 917K couldn’t even make it to the track as the car suffered from gearbox problems. Another fine piece of machinery was a 1964 Lotus 30 driven by Belgian Anthony Schrauwen. Three Lola T70’s battled it out on Sunday taking victory by Swiss driver Fabien Thuner in a 1967 T70 Mk.III.
Thirty-eight CER2 cars entered the 7,000 km track on Friday including different Lolas, four beautiful Ferrari 512 BB/LMs, legendary Porsche 935s, a huge flame producing Porsche 934/5 and a mouth-watering Lancia Beta Montecarlo just to name a few. Kevin Wilkins’ Warsteiner livery TOJ SC302 only appeared on Friday. On Sunday thirty-one iconic sports cars and GTs from the seventies lined up for their sixty minute race. Belgian Jean-Michel Martin and German motorsports legend Jürgen Barth proved to be too much for everybody else as they scored a crushing victory in their Porsche 934/5, finishing 1m,08.190 in front of the March 75S of Briton Doug Hart!
In 1982 the FIA introduced Group C racing, designed to replace Group 5 Special Production Cars and Group 6 Two Seater Racing Cars. Group C was used in the FIA’s World Endurance Championship (1982–1985), World Sports-Prototype Championship (1986–1990), World Sportscar Championship (1991–1992) and in the European Endurance Championship during 1983. One of the highlights of the 2013 Spa Classic was Group C Racing, bringing 17 legendary sports cars to the Ardennes track, including a former Mauro Baldi/Michael Schumacher Sauber-Mercedes C11, four Porsche 962s, two different Jaguars, several Spice models, an Argo JM19C and a rare Australian Veskanda. Fourteen cars entered their sixty-minute wet race on Sunday seeing just seven cars cross the finish line. Gareth Evens and Bob Berridge dominated the race with their Sauber-Mercedes scoring a demanding victory.
One of the highlights of the 3rd edition of the Spa Classic was the Spa Classic Endurance Tourisme 1 and 2. Touring cars from 1966 to 1984 payed tribute to the great Spa 24 Hours. Two sixty minute races, one day race and another held during the night saw legendary cars such as the BMW 3.0 CSL and Ford Capri. Other cars included several Alfa Romeos, BMW 1800s and a pair of Citroën SMs. In both races it was the 1973 Ford Capri 2600RS of Frenchmen David Ferrer and Mr. John of B. taking victory in front of a BMW 3.0 CSL.
Unique was the Spa Classic Jubilee, an anniversary race exclusively for Porsche 911s built between 1964 and 1974. This car with its timeless design and unique flat-6 engine has positioned the 911 as Porsche’s emblematic model. Thirty-three 911s entered qualifying on Friday creating a unique sight. Michel Lecourt and Raymond Narac claimed victory during the first race in a 1974 Porsche 3.0 RSR. Jim Pace and Georg Tuma did the same during the second race in their 1974 Porsche 3.0 RSR.
Sixties Endurance created the biggest field of the weekend as 61 historic GTs and touring cars entered the Ardennes roller coaster. AC Cobras, Jaguar E-Types, Ford Shelby GT350s, different Porsches, MG Bs to name only a few. On Sunday it was the battle of the Cobras as none of the other participants could even match their lap times. Karsten Le Blanc and Jaap Sinke crossed the finish line first after a 1 hour race in their splendid looking 1963 AC Cobra 289.
Fans of Italian pre-66 Italian Sports and GTs could eat their hearts out with the Trofeo Nastro Rossa including different Ferraris, Bizzarrinis, Alfa Romeos and a Maserati 250S. Belgian Vincent Gay had a lonely race as he was in class of his own in the 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C, claiming victory during both races.
The British Historic Formula 2 Trophy settled down at Spa including 24 epic single-seaters from the great days of Formula 2 racing. Andrew Smith had the perfect weekend claiming victory in both races with a 1974 March 742.
Besides three days of historic racing on the most beautiful race track in the world, people could also enjoy an auction hosted by Bonhams, visit an Automobilia village as well as many other activities. Peter Auto organised and hosted the best edition of the Spa Classic so far. We’re looking forward to 2014 as a new appointment is made for one of Europe’s most impressive classic events.
Spa Classic 2013 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Marcel Hundscheid/Speed-O-Graphica.com]