Report and photos by Marcel Hundscheid
The legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit hosted the 2nd annual Spa Classic during the weekend of May 25-27, 2012. This epic historic event was organized by the well-known Peter Auto organization from France.
Beautiful blue skies, warm temperatures and a vast field of iconic classic race cars were just three ingredients to create a perfect historic motorsports weekend. The 2012 edition saw participation by all the Peter Auto grids featuring Classic Endurance Racing, Sixties Endurance and Trofeo Nastro Rosso, as well as single seaters from the FIA Historic Formula One Championship, Historic F2 and last but not least, Group C Racing. Additionally, a racing a tribute was made to the Ecurie Francorchamps with the passage of the FF60 rally, celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of this famous team. The public was able to enjoy the many activities organized during the Spa-Classic such as the ACO circuit for the children, Slot Racing and Soap Boxes.
FIA Historic Formula Championship
After a year of absence, Historic Formula Championship returned to Spa-Francorchamps for round three and four of their championship. Thirteen single seaters powered by the legendary 3.0 litre Cosworth engine appeared on the entry list but only nine cars were entered for qualifying. Spaniard Joaquin Folch claimed pole position in his former 1981 Nelson Piquet Brabham BT49C in 2:14.431.
For the first race on Saturday only eight cars found their way to the starting grid. Joaquin Folch drove a lonely race claiming victory. Local driver Jean-Michel Martin finished second in a former Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi F8. Fellow country man Christophe D’Ansembourg managed to score third place in a Williams FW07.
On Sunday nine drivers appeared for their second race of the weekend and once again it was Joaquin Folch acting as a pacemaker claiming his second consecutive victory of the weekend. Jean-Michel Martin claimed another second place, finishing only 1.5 seconds behind Folch. Christophe D’Ansembourg fought a fierce battle with Richard Eyre (Williams FW08) for third place. In the end it was D’Ansembourg who finished third scoring his second podium of the weekend.
Pre-63 Sports cars and Pre-66 GTs filled the grid for a two-hour endurance race on Saturday afternoon. No less than 62 beauties appeared on the entry list featuring lots of AC Cobras, Jaguar E-Types and Porsche 911s. Two AC Cobras dominated qualifying seeing Dutch pairing David Hart/Hans Hugenholtz taking pole position, nearly three seconds quicker than Frenchman Ludovic Caron.
David Hart could only dominate for just nine laps on the Ardennes rollercoaster. Due to a technical problem he had to park his 1965 AC Cobra. After two long hours it was another 1965 AC Cobra claiming victory, driven by another Dutch pairing of father Alex and daughter Shirley van der Lof. Frenchmen Dominique Guenat and Yvan Mahe finished the race second, also in an AC Cobra. Olivier Cazalieres drove his AC Cobra to a third place on the podium.
Classic Endurance Racing One
One of Europe’s most epic historic sports car series is without doubt Classic Endurance Racing, founded in 2004 by Peter Auto. The series features classic sports cars and GTs divided in two grids. CER1 is open to GTs from 1966-1974 and prototypes from 1966-1972. In incredible field of 72 cars found their way to Spa, seeing 38 cars in and 34 cars in CER2.
The battle for pole was fought between the Lola T70 of Dutchmen David Hart and the Chevron B19 of Sandy Watson and Martin O’Connell. Hart put his splendid looking and sounding 1969 T70 Mk3B on pole, 3.4 seconds quicker than the 1971 Chevron B19 of Watson and O’Connell. On Sunday morning, CER1 started the final race day for a one-hour race. Watson and O’Connell proved to be quicker in their Chevron B19 leading the entire race. David Hart finished second with a gap of 8.4 seconds. Belgian driver Marc Devis finished third in a 1969 Lola T70 Mk.III.
Classic Endurance Racing Two
CER2 is open for GTs built between 1975 and 1979 as well as prototypes built between 1973 and 1979. Thirty-four GTs and prototypes were entered for their one-hour race on Sunday including some very tasty Porsche 935s. Loic Deman from Belgium (Osella PA4 1976) and Didier Guenat from France (Lola T286 DFV 1977) fought a strong battle for the best place on the grid. In the end it was Deman who put his Osella on pole.
The one-hour race proved to be tough for cars, drivers and tyres, as ten cars didn’t finish the race. UK drivers Sandy Watson and Martin O’Connell drove an outstanding race claiming overall victory, finishing no less than forty-five seconds in front of the 1979 Lola T298 of Patrice Lafargue. The Frenchman snatched second place during the final lap of the race as pole sitter Loic Deman suffered from technical problems. Belgian drivers Marc Devis and Herve Regout finished third in a 1976 Lola T296.
Historic Formula Two
Historic Formula Two is the European championship for Formula Two cars that raced before 1979, organized by the British HSCC, featuring marques such as Brabham, Chevron, Crossle, Lola, Lotus, March and Surtees. Frenchman Philip Harper in his 1977 Ralt RT1 claimed pole position with a 2:22.893 lap. Briton Matthew Watts (1977 March 772) scored second time, just over one second slower than his French rival. Both drivers drove an incredible race switching positions regularly but in the end it was Harper scoring victory just 0.2 second ahead of Watts. Swiss driver Hans Peter scored a third place in his 1978 Ralt RT1.
During the second race Harper drove a lonely 10 laps scoring his second victory of the weekend. Briton Peter Meyrick finished second in a 1978 March 782, seventeen seconds behind Harper. Hans Peter managed to score his second podium of the weekend, finishing third.
Trofeo Nastro Rossa
Fans of epic Italian cars such as the Ferrari 250 and 275, Maserati 300, Bizzarrini 5300, Iso A3C and Alfa Romeo could eat their hearts out with the Trofeo Nastro Rossa. Twenty two beauties filled the grid seeing Michael Ehrlich claiming pole position in his 1965 Bizzarrini 5300GT. Belgian Vincent Gaye drove his 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C to a second place.
Ehrlich led the first race for eleven laps but had to park his Chevrolet-powered Bizzarrini due to technical problems. Eric Mestdagh from Belgian claimed the lead in his 1964 Bizzarrini 5300GT but in the end it was the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Drogo of David Hart and Hans Hugenholtz from the Netherlands grabbing victory. Mestdagh finally finished in front of Gregory Noblet in a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB. Vincent Gaye used a Ferrari 250 GT SWB for the second race taking victory in front of the 1960 Maserati Tipo 63 of Adrian Kraft. The winners from the first race, David Hart and Hans Hugenholtz finished third, scoring a second podium of the weekend.
Group C Racing
Group C Racing brought an incredible grid to Spa recreating the great days of sports car racing from the eighties. Unique on the entry list was a 1985 Australian Veskanda, owned and raced by Briton Paul Stubber. This car actually raced in the 1988 World Sports Prototype event in Sandown. The Veskanda was unbeaten in the 1985-87 Australian Sportscar Championship driven by the legendary John Bowe. The battle for the pole was won by Briton Gareth Evans in a 1989 Sauber-Mercedes C9. Belgian drivers Christophe D’Ansembourg and Herve Regout drove their former 1990 Brun Porsche 962 to a second place. Peter and Andy Meyrick had the better start leading the field for fourteen laps as technical problems forced them to withdraw.
D’Ansembourg and Regout took the lead for just one lap as Gareth Evans put his Sauber-Mercedes on top of the field claiming victory. Christophe D’Ansembourg and Herve Regout finished second in front of Mike Donovan’s 1988 Spice SE88.
Thanks to the Peter Auto organization, Spa-Francorchamps has a second great historic event on their annual motorsports calendar. The 2012 Spa Classic again turned out to be an incredible weekend, featuring epic historic cars, outstanding weather conditions and breathtaking races. We’re already looking forward to the third edition of the Spa Classic.
Spa Classic 2012 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
[Source: Marcel Hundscheid]