Report and photos by Marcel Hundscheid
The Spa Six Hours 2012 was held September 24-26 at the 4.352 mile, 21-turn Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.
The 20th anniversary edition of the Spa Six Hours was in just one word — magic! Over 600 historic race cars and 1000 drivers participated in a huge tribute to celebrate the event created 20 years ago by the Roadbook Organisation, hosted by Alain Defalle and Vincent Collard. No less than 104 cars participated in the legendary Spa Six Hours, started on Saturday, September 25th at 16.00 p.m. Even the weather was quite fair, except for Saturday morning as heavy rain during the night created foggy conditions.
Spa Six Hours Race
104 epic cars built before 1965 filled the old start-finish straight, stretching back up the hill and round the La Source hairpin onto the modern straight. A true battle between American muscle cars and British straight-sixes was fought during a six-hour battle on one of the world’s most beautiful race tracks. Jaguar E-Types, Cobras and Mustang Shelby 350 GTs, Alfa Romeos just to name a few and a one-off Ferrari 250 GT SWB pleased spectators from the start until the very last lap.
Although not on pole position, the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport of Dutchmen Michiel Campagne and Allard Kalff stormed from seventh into the lead, followed by a posse of epic Ford GT40s. Over the hours the lead switch from the Corvette to several Ford GT40s (Leo Voyazides/Simon Hadfield, Roger Wills/Brendon Hartley). With just 15 minutes remaining on the clock it looked like New Zealand drivers Roger Wills and Brendon Hartley drove to their first victory but as they had to make a final stop Leo Voyazides and Simon Field scored their first Spa Six Hours victory. Shaun Lynn and Audi veteran Emanuele Pirro finished second in their Ford GT40 as Michiel Campagne and Allard Kalff claimed the final spot on the podium.
Grand Prix Masters
Twenty-five epic single seaters from the golden years of Formula 1 were entered for the first race on Saturday afternoon. The ten laps race saw a close battle fought between the Ensign N180 of Briton Simon Fish and Belgian hero Jean-Michel Martin in his former Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi F8. Fish finished just 0.3 seconds ahead of Martin, as Italian Mauro Pane crossed the finish line third in a Lola T370. Quite remarkable was Martin’s achievement as he spun his car in the La Source hairpin but managed to double almost the entire field, in the end finishing second. Paul Grant crashed his Trojan 103 heavily on top of the Raidillion, hurting one of his knees.
On Sunday both Fish and Martin fought the same battle but the Briton managed to finish once again in front of his Belgian opponent. Nico Bindels from Luxemburg drove his former Mario Andretti Lotus 87B3 to a third place.
Masters Sports Cars
A single 61-minute race held on Sunday provided a flash back of the epic era of sports car racing from the sixties and seventies. A massive grid of 52 cars claimed the Ardennes rollercoaster, featuring Lola T70s, McLaren M1s as well as Chevron B8s and B16s producing a raw blunt created by American V8 muscle power and screaming 2.0 litre engines. In the end it was the McLaren M1C driven by Britons Gregor Fisken and Peter Hardman winning the race. Second place was claimed by the Lola T70 Mk.IIIB from Britons David Coplowe and Martin Stretton just two seconds in front of the McLaren M1C of Roger Wills and Brendon Hartley, both coming from New Zealand.
Masters Gentleman Drivers
No less than 54 classic GTs competed in a 100-minute race on Sunday afternoon that saw different Cobras, Jaguar E-Types, Lotus Elans, MGs, among others. The AC Cobra of Nigel Greensall and Karsten Le Blanc scored a crushing victory over the Lotus XI of Danny Wright and Philip Walker. Graham and Andy Wilson finished third in their Lotus Elan.
Top Hat Masters
Sixty historic touring cars and GTs drove a single-61 minute race on Sunday featuring lots of Mini Coopers, Ford Lotus Cortinas, Alfa Romeos, just to name a few. In the end it was of of the three Porsches entered for the race — a 911 to be precise — claiming victory with a two minute gap over the Ford Falcon of Leo Voyazides. J. Mcloughlin finished third in a Ford Capri 3.0S.
Masters Prototype Challenge
Unique in every way was the combined grid of former Group C cars, Can-Am big blocks and sports cars. A single forty-minute race created the unique sight of sports cars from different eras fighting each other on a legendary race track. Just four former Group C cars found their way to Spa. In the end the American big blocks couldn’t answer the speed of the Group C prototypes giving victory to the Spice SE90C driven by Briton David Mercer. Belgian driver Christophe D’Ansembourg finished second in a beautiful former Brun Racing Porsche 962 as Peter Meyrick drove his Spice SE89C to a third spot on the podium. In the end only a single McLaren M8F driven by Andrew Newall finished 8th as he had to start from the pits. Three other M8s had to retire.
Under Two-Litre Touring Cars
The glory days of the European touring car championship from the sixties relived as fifty-one classics such as the Ford Lotus Cortina, BMW 1800Ti, Alfa Romeo Giulia and Austin Mini Cooper claimed the Ardennes track for an epic 61-minute race on Saturday afternoon. In the end no one could answer the speed of the 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA driven by German drivers Alex Furiani and Bernd Hahne. Robbie Shaw and former Grand Prix driver Jackie Oliver could only follow in their BMW 1800TiSA but managed to finish second. Spa Six Hours winners Leo Voyazides and Simond Hadfield scored a third place in their Ford Lotus Cortina.
Woodcote Trophy and Stirling Moss Trophy
A combined grid of 54 classic sports cars drove a single sixty-one minute race. Cars such as the Lotus 15, Lister Knobbly, Cooper Monaco, Jaguar D-Type and Maserati T61 pleased the crowd. Philip Walker and Danny Wright drove their Lotus 15 to victory. Thirteen seconds later the Maserati T61 Birdcage of Alan and Jason Minshaw crossed the finish line at Spa-Francorchamps. Shaun Lynn and Audi star Emanuele Pirro finished third in a Lister Knobbly.
Historic Grand Prix Car Association
A beautiful grid of 36 historic Grand Prix cars filled the Ardennes race track competing in two thirty-minute races on both Saturday and Sunday. Jason Minshaw battled it out on Saturday in his Brabham BT4 with the Cooper T45/51 of Rod Jolley. Peter Horsman scored a third place in a Lotus 18/21. On Sunday, Jason Minshaw scored a second consecutive victory. Rod Jolley couldn’t do much about it as he finished second. Max Blees crossed the finish line third in a Brabham BT7A.
British Sports – GT and Saloon Challenge
No less than 66 British sports cars – GTs and Saloon Cars competed in a single sixty-one minute race on Sunday morning. Pantelis Christoforou was the man to beat in a Ford Escort RS1600, but Jeremy Knight in his Morgan +8 couldn’t keep up with the Briton. Even Roy McCarthy in his 410 bhp MG B V8 could not follow the tiny Escort. Christoforou scored a victory, in front of Knight and McCarthy.
Always popular are the tiny classic single seaters competing in Formula Junior, seeing different Brabham, Cooper and Lotus cars. David Methley claimed victory on Saturday in a Brabham BT6 as Jon Milicevic finished second in a Cooper T59, Jonathan Hughes managed to score a third place, also in a Brabham BT6. On Sunday Milicevic scored a crushing victory over Jon Fyda in a Lotus 22, as Mark Pangborn finished third in a Lotus 20B.
Historic Sports Car Club
Sports cars and GTs from the sixties gathered for two races over the weekend. On both Saturday and Sunday five Chevron B8s dominated the race. Charles Allison had to defend a determined Sandy Watson and Martin O’Connell but in the end he finished just 0.4 seconds quicker than the two Scotsmen. Hugh and Mark Colman managed to score a third place. On Sunday Sandy Watson and Martin O’Connell dominated the second race claiming victory. Charles Allison couldn’t do anything about it but scored a second place as Philip Nelson finished third.
The 20th edition of the Spa Six Hours was without any doubt the best edition so far, a true celebration for this prestigious anniversary on the motorsport pearl of the Ardennes. We’re already looking forwards to the 21st edition in 2013.