For the LG Super Racing Weekend, summer is synonymous with Spa; once again, the last week of July will see the teams and drivers head to the Ardennes in Belgium for one of the highlights of the racing season. Not only is the track one of those...
For the LG Super Racing Weekend, summer is synonymous with Spa; once again, the last week of July will see the teams and drivers head to the Ardennes in Belgium for one of the highlights of the racing season. Not only is the track one of those most frequently cited as a favourite by drivers, but the event, which normally attracts around 100,000 spectators, is the longest of the year, starting on Wednesday with parades and festivities, and lasting until Sunday at 4 pm, the end of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, the seventh round of the FIA GT Championship. This will be the fourth running of the 24-hour classic as part of the FIA GT Championship, and the third time that the LG Super Racing Weekend series has visited the spectacular circuit.
The Formula Renault V6 Eurocup raced twice at Spa last year. During the summer meeting, Neel Jani finished a fine second behind Jaime Melo, while Belicchi and Lopez were victorious in October. This year, Belicchi is currently leading the Eurocup, following his double win in Donington's difficult weather conditions - which could possibly be a good indicator if the climate remains uncertain in Belgium. He has a lead of 19 points over Giorgio Mondini. Jani, on form in Brno, will also be keen to take advantage of the weekend to make up for a poor weekend in Great Britain. He is currently fifth.
Other races this weekend include a single round of the Formula Renault 2000 Eurocup and the European Alfa Challenge.
A LAP OF DONINGTON WITH KURT MOLLEKENS
ETCC Kurt Mollekens, aged 31, from Belgium is facing a busy weekend at Spa ! As well as competing in his home round of the FIA ETCC with BMW Team Belgium-Luxembourg, he will be part of the BMW Motorsport line-up for the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa. Kurt's varied career as driver and team-manager includes a win in the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort in 1996, a win in the 24 Hours of Spa in 2000 with Peugeot and two class wins in 1997 and 2003. He competed in the FIA GT Championship in 2001 and 2002, and made his FIA ETCC debut this year, his best result to date fifth at Donington.
"Most people know Spa with two highlights : Eau Rouge / the Raidillon, and Blanchimont, one of the few very quick corners left on the Formula One circuit. Even for us, in the FIA GT or ETCC, it is still great to be able to drive on such a circuit. There have been some changes this year, at the Bus Stop chicane, and passing will therefore be more difficult. But for a driver, the challenge is still good, and it will still be great fun to drive. The tarmac has also been changed on half the circuit, which makes it more grippy and more physical to drive. You might lose one or two seconds in the Bus Stop, but you gain almost the same from the new tarmac, so I would estimate that the lap times will be similar. Spa is a circuit where you have to be both clean and courageous. It's a very complete circuit, which is why it is loved by so many drivers. It's definitely among the best out there."
BELICCHI : EXPERIENCE COUNTS
A race-winner at Spa last year, Belicchi is returning to the scene of his first FR V6 triumph with a new status : that of the Eurocup leader. During the sixth meeting, in Donington, the Italian put in an excellent performance, winning two races despite tricky track conditions : heavy drizzle and a drying track. Both times, Andrea showed his experience and good timing, with intelligent races, taking advantage of the race incidents, to take the lead.
During the Grand Race, Belicchi took advantage of the Sharp/Jani duel to follow the early leader, Danielsson, taking his place when the Swede retired. A similar situation in the second race, when Sharp and Bell went into the grass on the first corner. Belicchi took the lead, and after a near-perfect race, took his second win of the weekend, his third of the season. It is the first time he has led the Eurocup.
Last year, the FR V6 visited Spa on two occasions. The second Belgian visit was a late addition to the schedule to replace the Enna Pergusa round. Belicchi and his team, AFC, had come with the knowledge that Andrea Belicchi would only compete in the Grand Race. As soon as the race was over, he returned to Italy-- to get married. He nearly missed his place, as although the wedding had been carefully prepared, he had not counted on winning the Grand Race at Spa. That was his first FR V6 win -- and now he is returning as the leader.
A STRONG START FOR MONTANARI
The Italian team Victory Engineering SpA, which won the two Valencia rounds with Pasini and Kerr, made a driver change at Donington. With Kerr leaving, Montanari jumped into the nr 11 FR V6 car. It proved to be an impressive baptism for the San Marino driver. Fourth in the first race, Montanari heard later that he had claimed his first podium after Sharp was penalised by the Stewards. During the Super Sprint, Montanari put in a stunning demonstration of his talent by finishing second behind Belicchi. 44 points for a first appearance -- impressive ! Forza Christian !