Report and photos by Marcel Hundscheid
The Spa Six Hours 2011 was held September 23-25 at the 4.352 mile, 21-turn Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Hosted by the Roadbook organisation of Alain Defalle and Vincent Collard, around 600 historic race cars, a vast crowd and beautiful and warm weather conditions were just a few ingredients to make the 2011 edition of this event the best so far.
No less than 109 epic historic icons filled the grid for the main Six Hour race. Qualifying on Friday evening saw five Ford GT40’s battling it out for the pole position. Roger Wills and Joe Twyman claimed the best position on the grid in the nr. 40 Ford GT40 with a time of 2:44.126, followed by Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield in the nr. 8 Ford GT40 and Christian Gläsel and Ralf Kelleners in the nr. 3 Ford GT40. Jon Minshaw, Jason Minshaw and Martin Stretton, winners of the 2010 edition claimed a 13th place on the grid in their Jaguar E-Type.
Just thirty minutes after the race was started several cars crashed in Les Combes, including the ‘Jag’ of Jon Minshaw. During the intervention of the safety car, something went totally wrong resulting in the fact that several cars crashed into each other. Ford dominated this edition of the Spa Six Hours resulting in a victory for the nr. 3 Ford GT40 of Christian Gläsel and Ralf Kelleners. Just a difference of two minutes separated the winning Ford from the car driven by Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield.
F1 Historic Grand Prix – Without any doubt the second highlight of the weekend were the two races of the Grand Prix Masters, a series created for historic Formula 1 cars build between 1968 and the early eighties. No less than 28 cars appeared on the entry list, entering the qualifying practice on Friday. The battle for the pole was fought between the two Arrows A4’s of Steve Hartley and Rowland Kinch. Finally, Hartley claimed the pole position.
During the first race on Saturday it all went wrong for the pole sitter in the La Source hairpin, giving victory to Rowland Kinch. A hard fight for second place was fought between the Williams FW07/C of Christophe D’Ansembourg and a Williams FW08 driven by Michael Fitzgerald. D’Ansembourg from Belgium grasped second place in front of Michael Fitzgerald from the United States.
On Sunday both Arrows A4’s proved to be too quick for the rest of the field. Rowland Kinch was again the man to beat and crossed the finish line first, three seconds ahead of Steve Hartley. Christophe D’Ansembourg scored a second consecutive podium finishing third.
Masters Sports-Cars – Fifty legendary prototypes built before 1974 entertained a vast crowd with their stunning shapes and sounds. No one had an answer to British youngster Oliver Bryant in his Lola T70 Mk 3B creating a gap of thirty-five seconds in front of Dutch veteran sports car and GT racer David Hart in his Lola T70 Mk. 3B. Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield had to settle for a third place in their T70.
Masters Gentlemen Drivers – A two-hour endurance race for GT’s from the sixties combined with roadsters built before 1963 saw victory for the German duo of Graf Marcus von Oeynhausen and Frank Stippler in a Jaguar E-Type. The AC Cobra of Rob and Rick Hall could only follow and scored a second place on the podium. Third finished Jon Shipman and Mark Hales in their TVR Griffith.
Top Hat Masters All Series – Fans of classic touring cars and GT’s built before 1975 could eat their hearts out seeing a full grid of 75 cars. Mark Bates was a class of his own in his Porsche 911 RSR. The difference with the number two Ian McCallum and John Bussell in their 1965 Aston Martin DB5 resulted in a gap of no less than more two minutes! Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield had no answer at all in their Ford Falcon Sprint and completed the podium scoring a third place.
Historic Motor Racing News U2TC – Touring cars entered for the Historic Motor Racing News U2TC championship relived the European Touring Car Championship as it was between 1963 and 1965. Cars like the legendary Ford Lotus Cortina, BMW 1800 Ti, Alfa Romeo GTA to name just a few created a very exciting sixty-one minute race. Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield (Ford Lotus Cortina) battled it out with former Grand Prix diver Jackie Oliver and Richard Shaw (BMW 1800 TiSA). Both Ford drivers claimed victory, as the BMW pair took second place. Jason Wright and Michael Gans completed the winners podest in their Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA.
Pre-63 GT – One of the stars of this year’s Spa Six Hours was the 1962 Ferrari 330 GTO of Swiss driver Carlo Vögele and Briton Willie Green. Their splendid looking car took victory before the AC Cobra of Martin Hunt and P. Blakeny-Edwards. The beautiful Aston Martin DB4 of Nick Naismith and John Young claimed third place in the twenty-seven cars grid.
RAC Woodcote Trophy – The RAC Woodcote Trophy featured post-war racing cars until 1955 such as the Jaguar D-Type, Aston Martin DB2, Frazer Nash Le Mans etc. could be seen in action in a sixty-one minutes race. A pair of Jaguar D-Types were the cars to fight the highest spot on the podium. Brazilian Carlos Monteverde and Briton Gary Pearson crossed the finish line first after twenty laps on the Ardennes roller coaster. John Pearson and Gary Pearson finished second in the same car, some two minutes in front of the Cooper T33 of Derek Hood and Andrew Smith.
Stirling Moss Trophy – Epic sports cars built before 1960 filled the grid for the Stirling Moss Trophy. Cars such as the Cooper Bobtail, Cooper Monaco, Cooper T39 Bobtail, Jaguar D-Type, Lister Chevrolet, Lister Jaguar Costin and Lister Jaguar Knobbly could be seen, entering a single sixty-one minute race. Briton Bobby Verdon-Roe dominated the race with his bright red Ferrari 246S, finishing a mere six seconds in front of the Lotus 15 of Roger Wills and Joe Twyman. Third place was claimed by the Lotus 15 of Philip Walker and Danny Wright.
Historic Grand Prix Cars Association – Former Grand Prix Cars between 1920 and 1960 created an epic sight on the Spa-Francorchamps track. Two thirty minute races were part of the action packed programme giving Alasdair McCaig a victory in his Cooper T53 on Saturday, in front of Peter Horsman (Lotus 18/22) and Andy Middlehurst in his splendid looking Lotus 25. The second race on Sunday saw a nail biting battle between McCaig and Horsman. McCaig claimed victory just 0.165 second in front op Horsman. John Harper drove his Brabham BT4 to the third spot on the podium.
British Sports – GT & Saloon Challenge – The name says it all, a large grid of sports, GT’s and saloon cars built between the forties and the seventies. Seventy cars entered the single sixty-one minute race on Sunday morning, giving victory to the tiny Talbot Sunbeam Lotus of Joss Ronchetti and Craig Davies. Chris Beighton and Jon Finnemore drove their bright orange Sunbeam Tiger to a second place. Eric and Francois Sechaud were very competing in their Ford Escort but had to settle for a third place.
Trans-Atlantic Prototype Challenge – A unique combination of Group C cars, prototypes from the Can-Am era and sports cars were combined into a single grid, creating a true demonstration of true power. One of the stars featuring this excellent grid was a 1997 McLaren F1 GTR, driven by Ralf Kelleners and Christian Gläsel. Very exciting to see was the 3.0 litre Lola T292 of Carlos Monteverde and Gary Pearson dominating the first part of the race. Even the big 8.4 litre Can-Am McLaren 8F’s had no answer on the strong performance of this sports prototype. After nine laps the Lola had to retire giving the lead to the big McLaren 8F of Peter Hoffmann. After the drivers change it was Ralf Kelleners who drove the impressive McLaren F1 GTR to victory. The McLaren 8F of German Peter Hoffmann finished second, third place on the podium went to the McLaren 8F of Dutchman Michiel Campagne.
Alain Defalle and Vincent Collard created an impressive classic event for the 2011 Spa Six Hours, perhaps one of the best historic races seen throughout Europe. The Roadbook organisation will present the 20th edition of the legendary Spa Six Hours in 2012, a historic event not to be missed.
Spa Six Hours 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Marcel Hundscheid]