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2018 Spa Classic
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Classic venue
The Circuit de Spa Francorchamps ranks among the best tracks in the world, universally praised by drivers and spectators alike. Even though the original layout has long since been abandoned, enough of the classic features have been retained to make the track so well loved. It is throughout the season the stage for a variety of events including the annual Spa Classic, staged by Peter Auto. Now in its eighth year, the event goes from strength to strength and featured all of the familiar Peter Auto Grids. A new addition this time was the 2.0L Cup for early, short wheelbase, Porsche 911s. Like last year, the Global Endurance Legends was part of the show with three high-speed demonstration runs for recent sport prototypes and GT racers. These demos were spearheaded by a 2003 Speed 8, acquired from Bentley just two weeks earlier.
As always, we were on hand from the start to the finish of the 2018 Spa Classic with this 280-shot gallery as the result.

Racing into the night
What sets the Spa Classic apart from the other annual Peter Auto events is that two of the races truly run into the night, on Saturday evening. The first of these was for the Sixties' Endurance, which finished just after the sun set. What certainly did not change was the dominance of AC Shelby Cobras in the popular series. Fastest of all the 72 cars entered for the race was local hero Christophe van Riet, who was over two seconds faster than his closest rival with his Shelby Cobra. In the race, Van Riet grabbed the lead immediately, and despite several lengthy safety car periods, he was never really challenged. It was a much closer fight behind him with Gary Pearson and Philipp Oettli finishing nose to tail after two hours of racing.
Later that same evening, the first of two one-hour Heritage Touring Cup races was held. Christian Traber dominated the race in his newly built 3.5-litre BMW CSL. He had a tougher time in the second race held the following morning. Traber was challenged early on by Richard Dean, in the ex-works Ford Capri RS 3100 he shared with owner Zak Brown. New to the series, this is one of two surviving cars from the 1974 factory effort and the only one in private hands. Similar cars do race in the series but they have all been built up more recently around new shells. Despite the strong challenge Traber managed to hold on for his second win of the weekend.

Porsches galore
A new addition to the roster this weekend was the 90-minute, 2.0L Cup for the early short-wheelbase Porsche 911s. The race featured a mandatory pit-stop during which a driver change could be performed. Organised by Peter Auto with the help of specialists Lee Maxted-Page and James Turner, the series managed to get a stunning 36-car strong entry of which 33 examples turned up for timed practice. Maxted-Page himself lined up in the freshly restored 911 used by Baron Karl von Wendt to win the 1967 European Touring Car Championship.
In qualifying, it was very tight at the sharp end of the field but ultimately the Historika prepared Porsche shared by Andrew Smith and Oliver Bryant that beat the Dutch entry of Pascal Pandelaar and Michiel van Duijvendijk. In the race, it was Nigel Greensall who grabbed the led in the ex-Brumos machine he shared with owner David Huxley. Running third early in the race, the Bryant/Smith 911 ultimately proved the fastest car/driver combination and they were back in the lead when the race was stopped due to a heavy hail storm.

Group C
One of the most highly anticipated grids of the weekend was the Group C racing for which two 45-minute races were run. With the cars often expensive and difficult to run, the field is not always very strong but this time no fewer than 33 examples were entered. Among them were a pair of Jaguar XJR-14s and a Peugeot 905. Also entered was one of the very last Porsche 962Cs built, which had been sold new back in 1991 but never turned a wheel in anger. At the 2018 Spa Classic, it finally made its very belated competition debut. A superb lap from Ralf Kelleners grabbed the pole with the 962C he shared with Ivan Vercoutere just ahead of Christophe d'Ansembourg in his glorious XJR-14. In the first race, d'Ansembourg did manage to grab an early lead but his challenge faded due to brake issues. It turned out to be a race of attrition and ultimately Steve Tandy in his Chevrolet-powered Spice came out on top. The second race saw a smaller grid with neither XJR-14 making the grid and this time the Porsche 962C of Raymond Narac and Michel Lecourt that won the race. Just like in the first race, the Porsche of Vercoutere and Kelleners finished second.

Classic Endurance Racing
Spread over two grids, the one-hour Classic Endurance Racing (CER) races celebrate the true heyday of sports car racing. Featuring a Porsche 917, a Ferrari 512, two Ford GT40s and a plethora of Porsches, Lolas and Chevrons, the CER1 field was 53 strong. Making the most of the hugely powerful five-litre V12 engine, the Ferrari 512 of Carlos Monteverde and Gary Pearson set by far the fastest time in qualifying. Unfortunately, it could not make the grid for the race that was hit halfway through by the first rain shower of the weekend. A strong run saw last year's champion Philipp Bruehwiler ultimately grab the victory with his Chevron B19. Lecourt and Narac were victories again, in the GT1 class, with the former's Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.0.
Earlier that same day, the CER2 race was held, which saw a very strong start by former Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro in the Lola T290 he shared with owner Gianluca Rattazzi. Despite running a two-litre engine against most three-litre powered prototypes, the quicksilver Italian showed he has lost little of his speed. At the end of the race, it was the Martin O'Connell and Roger Wills Chevron B26 that came across the line first, only to be disqualified for being underweight. This promoted Marc Devis to first place with his three-litre TOJ. The victory in GT2 was also hotly disputed with Van Riet scoring the second victory of the weekend in the last Ferrari 512 BB LM built.

Final thoughts
For most of the Spa Classic we thought we were at the wrong place as the weekend featured beautiful blue skies throughout the weekend but a late hail storm on Sunday reminded us why the Circuit de Spa Francorchamps has a reputation for tempestuous weather. Another reminder was the presence of 325 racing cars and the 1,200 collector cars brought by the clubs. As can be seen in our 280-shot gallery the eighth annual Spa Classic was the best yet.

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Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com