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.

Classic Racer - - WHAT’SINSIDE - Words and pho­to­graphs: Mark Mccloskey

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.

Side­cars

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.

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