Two weeks after snow hit the Spa-Francorchamps circuit the competitors at the ninth Spa-Classic only had to cope with a few showers, just enough to add some spice to the spectacle, which didn’t really need it, with a record 339 cars in action! The public flocked to the track as the attendance at the Peter Auto meeting also increased with more than 20,000 spectators over the three days.
At first glance Spa-Classic could seem like a kind of Belgian Le Mans Classic with a plethora of races, accessible paddocks, cars on show, clubs’ parades, activities, boutiques and a large public. But it’s not exactly the case. While Le Mans Classic retraces the complete history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Spa-Classic celebrates the 24 Hours of Francorchamps with particular emphasis on touring cars from the 1966 to 1984 period.
On this occasion two Heritage Touring Cup races were organised (compared to one only at the other meetings) including an event on Saturday evening. The HTC was created specially for Spa-Classic in 2013 before it became a regular grid at Peter Auto meetings the following year. In five years the number of cars entered has risen from 27 to 51! And above all, the mechanical preparation has improved in leaps and bounds.
Lap time have fallen by five seconds for pole position and reliability has made a big step forward with 72 % of the cars at the finish in 2019 compared to 39 % in 2014. It’s proof of the benefits of racing for historic cars! The diversity of machines present has also expanded with six different makes (10 models) on the track this weekend. They will be joined by a seventh in the near future with the arrival of a Jaguar XJS, an exceptional coupe powered by a big 5.3-litre V12 engine that came out of the workshops of the redoubtable Tom Walkinshaw Racing team in 1981.
Another newcomer, Endurance Racing Legends, had its first race on this circuit giving spectators the opportunity to see (again for some) three rivals of the early noughties that all won the GT category in the 24 Hours of Le Mans: the Chryster Viper GTS/R (1998-1999-2000), Ferrari 550 GTS (2003) and the Aston Martin DBR9 (2007-08). Among the new arrivals on the Peter Auto grids was the Alfa Romeo TZ2 (chassis AR10511 750019) of which only 12 were built during the 1964-65 winter.
In addition to the on-circuit action provided by the eight racing grids spectators could leave the trackside for a few minutes – or a few hours – to admire collector cars. Exotic vehicles like the Datsun Z, 100 of which 100 were reunited to celebrate its 50th anniversary, or more popular cars like the famous Peugeot 205 celebrating its 35th birthday. In the village spectators had their fill of excitement at the Slot Car circuit and the Rétronette dancing girls.
1 Mike Wrigley (Spice SE89C) 15 Laps in 45m14.440s
2 Tony Sinclair (Spice SE90C) +7.435s
3 Richard Meins (Jaguar XJR8)
4 Erik Maris (Peuget 905 EV1B)
Fastest Lap: Ralf Kelleners (Porsche 962C) 2m16.094s (185.3kph)
1 Wrigley 18 Laps in 45m05.380s
2 Meins +28.835s
3 Ivan Vercoute/Ralf Kelleners (Porsche 962C)
FL: Kelleners 2m17.418s (183.5kph)
Endurance Racing Legends
1 James Cottingham (Dallara SP1) 13 Laps in 30m13.654s
2 Nikolaus Ditting (Aston Martin DBR9) +1m55.521s
3 Franck Morel (Chrysler Viper GTS/R)
4 Xavier Grant (Panoz Esperante GTR1)
FL: Cottingham 2m16.892 s (184.2kph)
1 Cottingham 13 Laps in 30.08.476s
2 Ditting +1m47.172s
3 Florent Moulin (Saleen S7-R)
4 Doninik Roschmann (Aston Martin DBR9)
FL: Cottingham 2m16.500 (184.7kph)
Heritage Touring Cars
1 Michael Erlich (BMW 3.0 CSL) 17 Laps in 1h01m18.066s
2 Eric Mestdagh/Nicolas D'Ieteren (BMW 3.0 CSL) +1m46.575s
3 Christian Traber (BMW 3.0 CSL)
4 Alexander Rittweger/Sam Hancock (BMW 3.0 CSL)
FL: Traber 2m48.497s (149.6kph)
1 Traber 21 Laps in 1h00m44.489s
2 Maxime Geaunat (Ford Capri 3100 RS) +19.00s
3 Philip Walker/Miles Griffith (Ford Capri 2600 RS)
4 Caroline Grifnee (Ford Escort 1600 RS)
FL: Erlich 2m42.736s (154.9kph)