GT40s assert their authority at Spa Six Hours

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Ford’s legendary GT40 dominated last weekend’s Spa Six Hours as four of the thunderous supercars battled their way into the top six places.

The 20th running of the event attracted more than 600 race cars and 1000 drivers, but it was the endurance race that had the crowd on the edge of their seats as 104 cars lined up on the grid.

The race was won by the GT40 of Leo Voyazides and Simon Hadfield, followed by Shaun Lynn and Emanuele Pirro (also in a GT40), while third place was snapped up by the Chevrolet Corvette of Dutch duo Michiel Campagne and Allard Kalff some two laps behind.

To view the full race results, click here.

Saturday and Sunday’s Grand Prix Masters races brought together F1 cars from the 1960s through to the ’80s and arguably provided the most action-packed racing of the weekend.

They were both won by Simon Fish’s Ensign N180, but not before he’d soaked up tremendous pressure from Jean-Michel Martin’s Fittipaldi F8.

The Historic Grand Prix Cars Association race featured even older GP cars and both races were won by Jason Minshaw in his Brabham BT4.

There were crowd pleasers in the Master Sports Cars class, too, in the form of a Porsche 917 and a Ferrari 512 M (above), but both were forced to retire.

Gregor Fisken and Peter Hardman won the race in a McLaren M1C leaving David Coplowe and Martin Stretton’s Lola T70, and the McLaren M1C of Roger Wills and Brendon Hartley, to take second and third, respectively.

Click these links to download full-size images of the GT40 and 512 M.

You can read the full report from the event's organisers below.

This 20th edition of the Spa Six Hours, so dear to Alain Defalle and Vincent Collard will undoubtedly be awarded with the seal of a complete success. With no less than 600 cars, with several exclusivities at Francorchamps, and 1000 drivers, it was a gigantic feast bringing together classic and historic vehicles, whether on the track, in the paddocks or around the immediate vicinity of the most iconic circuit in the world. The weather having finally decided to remain favourable throughout the entire weekend, the drivers competing in the various series, each one more prestigious than the other, were able to give it their all.

With 104 cars on the grid for the Spa Six Hours, which gave its name to this meeting and usually held on Saturday between 16.00 and 22.00hrs, was dominated by a total confrontation between the best Ford GT40s. Silver medal holder during the two previous editions, the Greek driver Leo Voyazides and the Brit Simon Hadfield beat the jinx, winning the race ahead of the similar power beast of Shaun Lynn and… Emanuele Pirro! The five times winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans enjoyed a thunderous debut in this legendary race, and has promised to return next year with the intention of grabbing the top tread of the podium.

If on the one hand the young New Zealander Brendon Hartley, straight out of the single-seater world, almost clinched victory together with his compatriot Roger Wills at the wheel of another GT40, it was finally the Chevrolet Corvette of the Dutch duo Michiel Campagne and Allard Kalff that made it to the podium, by a mere 39 seconds ahead of the superb Jaguar E Type Lightweight of Clark, Clark and McCaig at the chequered flag. As for Klaus Ludwig and Jurgen Barth, other international personalities at the start, they finally finished in sixth place overall, also in a Ford GT40.

On the Belgian front, Eric De Doncker (Ford GT40) always up amongst the top-10, finished in 9th, whilst Christian Dumolin, Christophe Van Riet and Stephan Meyers claimed victory in the Touring category at the wheel of their Ford Mustang MK1! If on the one hand the Porsche 911 SG Racing manned by the French duo Bussolini-Bussolini, tuned in Verviers, just missed out on 30th place, Gérard de Ville de Goyet, Gérard Marcy and Patrick Van Heurck were not rewarded for their hard fought efforts, with their Porsche 911 finally finishing in the depths of the overall classification. A worthy mention of the 50th place for Joy, Konig and Simon with their exceptional Ferrari 250 GT SWB, a Première at the 6 Hours of Spa.

Jean-Michel Martin in top form!

Bringing together some 25 F1 single-seaters from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s the Grand Prix Masters definitely provided the two most enjoyable races of the entire weekend. Both on Saturday and Sunday, Jean-Michel Martin (Fittipaldi F8) was at the heart of the show putting an incredible pressure on the leader, namely the British driver Simon Fish (Ensign N180), who finally won both heats. But such was the intenseness of the battle that Martin was but a hair’s breadth behind, respectively at 0’’3 and 0’’5. Even more remarkable result seeing that on the Saturday Jean-Michel had spun at the exit of la Source, and then systematically got the better, one by one of all his rivals to finally finish within sight of the winner’s exhaust. “ All I needed was just one more lap”, the Belgian driver commented, who had gone flat out in the last kilometres, as he also did the following day in fact.

Unlucky on Saturday (mechanical damage on his Williams FW07/C), Christophe D’Ansembourg was back on the grid on Sunday with his beautiful McLaren M26, finally finishing the race in 6th place. As for Alain Plasch, in the Fittipaldi Copersucar F5A, he registered an honourable 7th place on the Saturday. Paul Grant was less fortunate, victim of an impressive crash in the Raidillon at the wheel of his Trojan 103, the most Belgian of the Brits suffered a serious knee injury.

Bringing together even older Grand Prix cars, the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association saw the British driver Jason Minshaw dominate with his Brabham BT4 on two occasions, with the unfortunate Paul Grant clinching a class podium on the Saturday with his Cooper Bristol. As for Jan Biekens, he won the admiration of all at the wheel of Olivier Gendebien’s rebuilt Ferrari 156 Shark Nose.

In Formula Junior Brabham and Cooper shared the spoils, with David Methley and John Milicevic getting the better of the numerous Lotus at the start, including that of the Belgian Luc Denève.
D’Ansembourg 2nd in Proto

The field bringing together the Prototypes was impressive, with as icing on the cake the 2nd overall place of Christophe D’Ansembourg on the Saturday in the Masters Prototype Challenge, at the wheel of a 962 C in the Jaegermeister livery. Unfortunately Eric Mestdagh was forced to retire his usually highly efficient GRD.

This Sunday superlatives were ‘de rigueur’ in the Masters Sports Cars, with the presence at the start of a Ferrari 512 M as also a Porsche 917, but both unfortunately forced to retire. It was finally the McLaren M1C manned by the British duo Fisken and Hardman that got the better of Coplowe and Stretton’s Lola T70, and the McLaren M1C of Roger Wills and … Brendon Hartley, finally on the podium in Spa!

Even older were the stars of the Stirling Moss Trophy, which allowed the Walker and Wright Lotus XV to get the better of the exceptional Maserati T61 Birdcage of Minshaw-Minshaw and the Lister Knobbly of Lynn and … Emanuele Pirro, who was back on the podium for a second time! The Italian finished just in front of the Lotus XV of Wills and Hartley. Less luck for Jean-Pierre Van de Wauwer, whose Lotus XI came to a standstill after 5 laps with mechanical problems. Victory went to the Jaguar D Type of Monteverde and Pearson in the Woodcote Trophy. In the HSCC event the Chevron B8s were in full command on both occasions with victories going to Allison and Watson/O’Connell.

Traditional ode to the show, the U2TC, which brings together the classic under 2 litres cars, saw the event dominated by the Alfa Romeo GTA of Furiani and Hahne, who got the better of the BMW 1800 TISA of Shaw and Jackie Oliver (creator of the Arrows in F1…) and the Ford Cortina Lotus of Voyazides and Hadfield. Lynn and Pirro finished in 7th place in another Ford Cortina Lotus, whilst Brendon Hartley crossed the line in 15th spot, at the wheel of a … Mini Cooper S!

Last but not least we should mention the pile up of some dozen cars in the Top Hat Masters, as the result of an oil spillage. The race was red flagged, with victory being given to the Porsche 911 RSR of Mark Bates ahead of Voyazides’ Ford Falcon and the Ford Capri of McLoughlin. Hartley and Wills were also in the race, finishing 7th in a splendid Mercury Comet Cyclone! In the British Sports-, GT & Saloon Challengethe spoils went to the Ford Escort RS1600 of Laki Christoforou, and imitated by the AC Cobra of Karsten Leblanc and Nigel Greensall in the Masters Gentlemen Drivers.

Enough written, it goes without saying that this 20th vintage of the Spa Six Hours was quite simply … magical!

Pictures: Georges Goffinet


 

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