A Sspa weekend k d
The Belgian Classic scene has enjoyed a noticeable spike in both popularity and attendance over the past decade. We sent Mark Mccloskey to investigate, and to find out if we should get this booked into the diary.
Now is the time to make your plans for Spa this year. Go. You’ll find it engaging and welcoming. And the track action is ace, too.
Classic racing in Belgium keeps going from strength to strength and, with an interesting selection of racing events to choose from, continues to attract ever larger numbers of visitors travelling from the UK and Ireland.
This of course is in addition to the generous and enthusiastic attendance from the many groups of French, German, Italian, Dutch, Swiss and Czech, and not forgetting the local Belgians.
The first weekend in July is always the date for The Bikers Classic which is held at the utterly fabulous circuit Spa Francorchamps, the Belgian national race circuit which, among many thrilling events, is probably best known for hosting the Belgian F1 Grand Prix.
The Bikers Classics started out as a weekend event to give regular bike enthusiasts track time on the superb race circuit. Now, 17 years later, it has morphed into a full-on, three-day extravaganza that includes two rounds of Belgian Classic GP
(BCGP) and IHRO, two rounds of Classic Superbike (CSBK) and two of Pro-classic as well as a 4-hour Endurance race on Saturday evening, starting at 6pm.
There is also the Bikers Classics, which according to the programme is loosely termed as ‘parading’ and gives bikes of any and every type, and their riders, the chance to rip it up around the Spa circuit. This part
of the weekend attracts 500 entrants where machines are put into groups according to size and capability. Each group is given seven 15-minute sessions, which is more than enough to gain a reasonable grasp of what to expect when out on circuit and is a very good idea to do in addition to racing, especially for any competitors coming to Spa for the firsttime. The race results went as follows:
Gedinne, The Belgian Classic TT
Gedinne takes place in mid-august, usually the same weekend as the Belgian F1 GP (so make sure you get someone to record it for you because, whether you’ve already donethe Bikers Classics or are considering doing it next year, you glean all sorts of tips, pointers and track knowledge from watching it when you get home). A road circuit located close to the small town of Gedinne in southern Belgium, this is another three-day event but, with 11 separate categories, each getting two separate races – it’s very much a full-on weekend of racing.
Add to this the Gedinne circuit which is superb in every detail, 3.13 miles (5.05km) of perfectly surfaced, grippy asphalt that is a pleasure to race.
The IHRO class gets its own race and is subdivided into three classes. In IHRO Race 1 Ian Seltner took his Aermacchi to a fine win in the IHRO 1 class.toby Werner topped the podium on Denis Gaskins’ Konig in IHRO 2 and Jack Scrivener took IHRO 3 glory. In IHRO Race 2 on Sunday it was Jan Frank Bakker who won IHRO 1,Toby Werner was back on the top step in IHRO 2 and Davidtetley on the Ducati Mk.111 took the IHRO 3.
The 250cc races saw Pieter Evers take both wins in the Group 1 class and Joseph Wilcock and Eric Delarez took a Group 2 win apiece. Geoffrey Vreugdenhill took both 500cc Post Classic Group 1 wins while Jarno Jonker had his throttle-hand full to keep Richard Ford behind him in second place during both of the Post Classic 750cc races.
In the 350cc races, a fine pair of wins went to Davidtetley in the Group 1 class and Loris Hunt also bagged a pair of wins in the Group 2.
In the IPC/EVO Class races it was a pair of wins apiece to Jeffrey Vermeulen and Ludovic Landolfi in Group 1 and 2 respectively, with wins
“TOBY WERNER MADE IT FOUR WINS FROM FOUR STARTS ON BOARD THE GASKINS KONIG”
in IPC going to Franco Fosatti and Jim Genin.
The Post Classic class is divided into three separate groups and, in each group, the same winner emerged victorious in both races. In Group 1 Julien Legendre was tops, in Group 2 two-stroke it was Georgethomas and Group 2 four-stroke it was Dominique Jamin who lapped at a blistering 78.57mph/126.459kph, fastest lap of the weekend, on his way to the Race 2 win.
In the Post Classic Group 3, UK riderthomas Jennings piloted his Kerby Honda to both wins as didtoby Werner in the 500cc Group 2 to make it an impressive four wins from four starts on the Gaskins’ Konig.
So, apart from the superb racing, what is it that attracts such enthusiastic crowds year after year? I asked around and the responses were as varied as the people and included: the superb surface (of the track), the relaxed atmosphere, the warm glow you get from a weekend away racing, the friendly people, the beer and the food.
I can’t be sure – I reckon I’ll just have to go back again next year. And so should you.
In Group 1, the race 1 win went to Pierre Loison and David Dufrene who then led throughout race 2 and looked assured of a second win but didn’t reappear for the chequered flag, thus handing the race 2 win to UK duo Adam Pope and John Christopher.
In the GP600 class, both wins went to Luc de Smet and Zoe Brun with both sidecar PostClassic wins going to UK team Greg Noble and Jake Louther. In sidecar Gr.3 class Jurgen Couvreur and Peter Deniere took the flag in race 1 with Marvin Vermuelen and Jouk Hahn, who had finished a lowly 11th in race 1, finding the necessary spurt to take the race 2 win.
Left: Patrick Banfield and Cormac Conroy of Team Nice working on their RC30 in preparation for the 4hr Race.
Above:team Classic Suzuki make final adjustments to the Katana before the 4hr Race at Spa.
Claudio Bellabarba 26, Nick Edgeley 61, Patrick Chavanne 144, Thomas Hoffman 34 and Don Jansen 29 negotiate their way through La Source.
Riders dash across to their machines at the start of the 4hr Race.
Patrick Banfield and Cormac Conroy of Team Classic Racer Nice on the grid just before the start of the 4Hr Race.
Left: Duelling at dusk. Peter Coppens and Derek Cripps exit La Source Hairpin at Spa during the 4hr Race.
Above: First into the chicane, Kieran Clarke and Edwin Wright went on to take both of the Sidecar Group 3 wins at Gedinne.
Left: Steve Cox and Chris Nickels chase Thomas and Stéphane Petrizot’s sidecar outfit out of the chicane on lap one of the Group 3 race.
It’s neck-and-neck between Geoffrey Vreugdenhill No.1 and Ian Seltner No.541 in the 500cc Group 1 Class.
Man on a mission.mission Jean Luc Hate leans it out at the start of another lap in the 4hr Endurance Race at Spa.
Below: Double Take 54, Gerry O’sullivan manages to keep ahead of Paton mounted Raf Blanckaert as they exit Bus Stop Chicane.
Above: Bernard Metzler flicks his 851 Ducati into Bus Stop Chicane at Spa.