Report and photos by Matt White
The Spa Six Hours 2016 was held 16-18 September at the 4.352-mile, 20-turn Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Nestled in the heart of the Ardennes forest, the Circuit Spa Francorchamps is one of my favourite tracks to shoot at in Europe. The lure of the Spa Six Hours Classic was impossible to resist, with the promise of quality grids, and historic racing into the eerie dark of the Belgian wilds.
The extensive grid for this event was headed by a throng of Ford GT40s, with a horde of hungry Jaguar E-Types, Shelby Cobras, Porsche 911s and Mustangs in hot pursuit for the honours. Hotly tipped for the win was the Ford GT40 driven by ex-Formula 1 star Gerhard Berger, partnered with Richard Meaden and Paolo Barilla.
With qualifying on the Friday, Saturday was eagerly anticipated, and there was a real fizzle of excitement in the paddock on Saturday morning, some fantastic support races being hotly contested, and great racing throughout the fields. With the weather better than had been forecast, the sun broke through periodically, meaning track conditions were near to perfect.
The event publicity had ensured an extremely healthy crowd turnout, the stands around the pit area close to capacity, and people lining the edges of the forest surrounding the track. As the late afternoon highlight of the event drew close, the air was thick with anticipation.
A cluster of Ford GT40s headed the grid, lined up on the old pit straight, the field stretched behind them all the way back to La Source and some more. Engines fired up, as the senses were attacked by a cacophony of noise.
Unfortunately, the initial lead car of Berger/Meaden fell early on in the race, and left the other GT40s to contest the lead for the most part. Unfortunately attrition was a huge factor in the outcome of this race, and as the light faded into dusk, the cars thinned out due to the demands of the racing.
As night drew in, and a few spots of rain began to fall, the blaze of headlights illuminating the dark Ardennes forests, the win was taken by the #6 Ford GT40 of Wright, Gans and Wolfe, with other GT40s sharing the podium places. The #46 TVR Griffith of Whitaker, Reuben and O’Brien put in a fantastic drive to claim 4th place, and split the lead group of GT40s.
Whilst seemingly very much a Ford dominated event, this was hotly contested throughout the classes, and numerous drives impressed the crowd right through the field. The atmosphere of such a legendary circuit, mixed with the depth of field of such an event, and the ambiance of racing into the night, makes this one of the premier events in Europe, if not the world for classic racing.
Similar to 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, Sports Car Digest also documented the 2016 Spa Six Hours, with photographer Matt White offering the following spectacular images from the Ardennes playground at Spa-Francorchamps. To see more from Matt, visit MattyWhiteMedia.com.
Spa Six Hours 2016 – Photo Gallery
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[Source: Matt White]