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2022 Spa Classic
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Introduction
One of the first standalone events of the Peter Auto organisation, the Spa Classic, should have been held for the tenth time in 2020. Due to the global pandemic, it had to be cancelled two years in a row but in 2022 it was finally time for the anniversary edition. The opportunity was certainly not lost on the competitors as the event featured bumper fields for almost every grid. Making the best use of the track-time available, the Spa Classic again ran well into the night with an evening race for the Sixties' Endurance on Saturday, followed by night races for the Endurance Racing Legends (ERL) and Heritage Touring Cup. Especially, the ERL race provided quite a spectacle with glowing discs and flame-spitting exhausts, while the HTC race celebrated the period that the Spa 24 Hours was run for touring cars.
Effectively our home track, we were at Spa throughout the weekend and as always both the weather and the event did not disappoint. The result of our efforts can be found in this 210-shot gallery.

Sixties' Endurance
The maximum size of a grid is usually determined by the length of a circuit and at 7,003 metres the Spa-Francorchamps is a particularly long one. That meant that qualifying for the Sixties' Endurance race was open to a startling 85 cars. Run on Friday evening, close to dusk, it was naturally a busy affair with the fastest cars struggling to find a clean lap. Doing the best job by quite a margin (3.7 seconds) were Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen in the former's very fast Jaguar E-Type.
With Minshaw at the wheel, the E-Type had the best start and was part of a heated battle for the lead, which also included the Shelby Cobra of Urs Beck and Ralf Kelleners. It turned out to be a very eventful race with several full course yellow and safety car situations. It was the Beck and Kelleners Cobra that had the fewest issues and crucially they managed to get in the cue of the first safety car while the rest of the leaders were behind the second safety car. After the smokey retirement of the Minshaw and Keen E-Type, the Cobras of Van Riet and Bouvy, and father and son France were second and third. The drive of the race was certainly for Olivier and David Hart who had started from the back in their Iso Grifo and eventually fought their way back up the order, finishing fourth, a mere 14 seconds from the podium.

Endurance Racing Legends
Another particularly strong field was for the Endurance Racing Legends (ERL), for which a night race was scheduled. All 40 slots available were filled with a tantalising mix of 1990s and 2000s sports prototypes and GT racers. To set the grid for the pair of races on Saturday, there were two qualifying sessions; one in daylight and one after sunset. Experienced sports car racer Marino Franchitti showed off his craft and qualified the Riley & Scott Mk III C he shared with Richard Cook on pole position. He beat fellow professional Jake Hill, who was behind the wheel and the engine, for that matter, of the very unusual Panoz LMP 01.
Having had a troublesome qualifying session on Friday evening, Christian Gläsel bounced right back in the opening race with his ex-Dyson Racing MG-Lola EX257. He won the race ahead of Mike Newton in the sister car that Newton had also raced in period. Hill was third in the Panoz, beating another Panoz to the podium. Fastest of the GT cars was Dominik Roschmann in his glorious Prodrive Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello. In the night race later in the day, Gläsel won again, this time beating Xavier Micheron and Antoine Weil in their Riley & Scott.

Heritage Touring Cup
The final race on Saturday evening was the first of two one-hour Heritage Touring Cup (HTC) heats of the weekend. Held in complete darkness, the race proved quite a challenge for the competitors with quite a few big crashes. In rather wet conditions, Maxime Guenat had qualified on pole position in his Capri RS 3100, beating three similar cars to the punch. The race was a three-way battle between Guenat, Yves Scemama and the pairing of Mark Farmer and Adrian Wilmott. After a penalty for the British pairing, it was the Equipe Europe team-mates Scemama and Guenat who the race in that order.
The surviving touring cars were back out the following morning with Guenat once again starting from pole position. This time round, he was the faster of the Capri drivers but it was a close fight with the Farmer and Willmott pairing. Eventually the difference after an hour's worth of racing was a mere 1.7 seconds. Scemama was the only other driver on the lead lap and followed up on his victory from the evening before up with another podium finish.

Further highlights
After the very busy Friday and Saturday, the final day of the Spa Classic almost felt quiet. Nonetheless there were still races for Group C and Classic Endurance Racing 1 and 2, among others, on the schedule. The first Group C race had already been held on Saturday and had seen a victory for Christophe d'Ansembourg in his might Jaguar XJR-14. He won again on Sunday in what may very well be the fastest of all Group C cars.
With 57 cars, headlined by a Martini-liveried Porsche 917 K, the CER1 field was very impressive. Starting on pole were David and Olivier Hart in their Lola T70 MkIIIB. They had a strong race but an issue with the pit stops saw them penalised one lap. This promoted Alex Furiani to first with his Chevron B19. Second in the eventful race was Toni Seiler with his Lola T70 MkIII.
The second CER race was also quite messy due to several safety car issues. This caught out both pole sitter Yves Scemama and second placed Maxime Guenat. Running nose-to-tail, the two had to make up a 30-second penalty to Philippe Scemama and Laurent Fort in the mighty Lola T600, they shared. They were getting close but the race was red-flagged with minutes to go.

Final thoughts
Rain or shine, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit is a favourite among drivers alike. Over the winter changes were made but the track itself did not loose any of its appeal. For the spectators, there is a brand new grandstand towering over the legendary Raidillon, giving them an unprecedented view over one of motorsport's most famous corners. This was one of many attributes that underlined why everyone had looked forward to the tenth edition of the Spa Classic so much. Quite a few of the other reasons can be found in our 210-shot gallery.


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