Ferrari and Belgium
Ferrari and Belgium have had a long and successful history together, from the founding of Garage Francorchamps to this day. Founded by Jacques Swaters in 1952 Garage Francorchamps is one of the oldest Ferrari importers in the world. Soon after Swaters started Ecurie Francorchamps, which ran Ferrari racing cars with great success for many years. Some of Ferrari's most successful sportscar drivers are also Belgians; Olivier Gendebien and Jacky Ickx. Every year in May, Ferrari's rich heritage is celebrated on the Belgian Spa-Francorchamps racing track. Thousands of fans travel to the legendary track to view the marque's finest road and racing cars in action.
Ferrari and Maserati
For many years Ferrari and Maserati were the biggest of rivals, but since Ferrari took control of Maserati in 1998, they've been a dominating race partnership. To celebrate the rich racing heritage of both marques, a Ferrari/Maserati Historic Challenge was setup, in which racing cars from both manufacturers fight it out on the track once again. With the addition of the Maserati Cambiocorsa Tropheo this year, what once was called the Spa Ferrari Days, is now more appropriately called the Spa Ferrari/Maserati Days.
Challenge and Tropheo
Modern Ferraris were raced in two Challenge races. The European 360 Challenge series races featured current 360s, and included a noteable guest driver, Vanina Ickx, daughter of LeMans legend Jacky Ickx. In the sprint race she displayed the proven Ickx skills she's inherited from her father by taking the victory, however she lost out to 2003 Champion and Championship leader Ange Barde in the feature race. The British Pirelli Maranello series featured previous 360 Challenge cars, F355 Challenge cars and a modified F40. Victory went to the F40.
New for this year's event was Maserati's own race series, the Cambiocorsa Tropheo race.
First held in 2003, the Tropheo championship is designed specifically for gentleman drivers. Weapon of choice is a modified Maserati Coupe, lightened considerably and fitted with a more powerful engine. Vanina Ickx also made a guest-appearance in this race and was in contention for the victory, until making an unscheduled pit-stop. Alberto Cerrari won the forty minute race, ahead of championship leader Andrea Palma.
The cars competing in the Historic Challenge were divided into three classes, depending on their type and age. Grid A was made up of historic single seaters, with drum brakes. This is traditionally the smallest class, but was uncharacteristically small this year with only six cars entered. These included two pre-War Maserati 6CMs, which were both driven in a spectacular side-ways fashion and two Maserati 250Fs, considered by many as the finest front-engined Grand Prix racer ever constructed. Victory in both races went to Burkhard von Schenk, driving one of the 250Fs.
Grid B consisted of sports and GT cars, equipped with drum brakes. Highlights in this field were the open Ferrari and Maserati sportscars. Ferrari was strongly represented with two 750 Monzas, a 500 Mondial and a 500 TR. Long time contender Carlos Monteverde had switched the Ferrari 250 TR he used the years before, for a glorious 750 Monza. It was again Burkhard von Schenk who took the victory in both races, this time with his Maserati 300S.
Only Ferraris were entered in Grid C, ranging from the 1960 250 GT SWB, to the 512 BB LM of the late 1970s. British car collector Harry Leventis entered two of the highlights of the weekend in this class, the 1965 Ferrari 206 P and the beautifully restored Ferrari 330 P3. Leventis drove the P3 on Saturday and the 206 P on Sunday, with Peter Hardman driving the other available car. On Sunday Hardman took victory in the P3, driving this hugely valuable collector's item to its limits. Equally valuable was the Ferrari 250 GTO entered by Dutch Ferrari importer 'Frederico' Kroymans. On Sunday he fought with Belgian Vincent Gaye in his 250 GT SWB the entire race, until he missed the turn-in on the 'bus stop chicane' and collided into the tire barrier. John Bosch was victorious on Saturday, after starting from the back of the field with his Pioneer-livered 512 BB LM.
F1 Corse Clienti Demonstration
Ferrari's recent and past successes in Formula 1 were celebrated with a demonstration of several Formula 1 racers. The Scuderia's client department beautifully prepared the racers, ranging from the 1975 Championship winning Ferrari 312T to the 2001 Championship winning F2001. The most unique car among the single seaters of its time was the two-seat Ferrari 333SP, which turned sportscar racing upside-down in the 1990s. Fitted with a 4-litre version of the Ferrari F1/F50 engine, the 333 SP produces one of the finest exhaust notes.
An action packed program and perfect spring weather made this year's Ferrari/Maserati Days a huge success. This years event drew a much larger crowd than 2003, and presented the public with exciting on track action and a paddock filled with road going Ferraris. To give you an impression of the weekend's action we created a 100 shot slideshow
, filled with high resolution action from both the Challenge, Tropheo and Historic Challenge races, and the demonstration runs of F1 cars and road cars.