A lap around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit with Lamborghini ace Peter Kox The Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series travels to the world-class Spa-Francorchamps circuit, a favourite for racing drivers and fans alike, for rounds 10, 11 and 12...
A lap around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit with Lamborghini ace Peter Kox
The Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series travels to the world-class Spa-Francorchamps circuit, a favourite for racing drivers and fans alike, for rounds 10, 11 and 12 on 29-31 July 2010. Peter Kox, 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner, will compete at Spa in the #24 Lamborghini Super Trofeo race car, along with his Blancpain Reiter Engineering team-mate Marc A. Hayek. We turn to Kox to provide us with a first-hand insight of what it is like to drive a 570 hp, four-wheel drive Lamborghini Super Trofeo around his beloved track.
Located in the French-speaking Wallonia region of Belgium amid the hills and valleys of the Ardennes, this historic circuit has a rich heritage of motor racing: the original 15 km triangle-shaped layout hosted its first race in 1922. The Grand Prix track has been modified several times since, producing the currently used 7 km configuration.
"Once the lights turn green, the first corner you get to is La Source, a right-hand hairpin," explains Kox as we begin our virtual lap around the longest and possibly most demanding circuit on the Super Trofeo calendar. "Brake very hard and shift down to second gear as you enter the corner: there is a very tight line to catch in order to get a good exit going downhill. After La Source, shift up to fifth for the straight while you approach the most famous turn on the track, Eau Rouge."
The esteemed Eau Rouge is one of the most recognized corners at any Grand Prix circuit today. Until a major reconstruction in 2000, this part of the track was still used as a public road for southbound traffic going towards Luxembourg. Followed by the Raidillon corner, this steep uphill left-right- left combination requires great skills to master.
"As you drive through Eau Rouge, stay close to the wall on the right and take it in fourth gear," continues the Blancpain Reiter Engineering driver. "The next corner is the Raidillon, going into the long Kemmel straight up the hill. It's fantastic going through this straight in the Super Trofeo car: you can really feel how powerful it is. Even though you are going up the hill it doesn't feel like you are; it feels like a flat straight."
The 570 hp Lamborghini Super Trofeo cars, like the one driven by Kox, have been specifically developed for racing: derived from the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 road car, the Super Trofeo is equipped with an increased power output from the V10 'Iniezione Diretta Stratificata' engine and a reworked lightweight chassis to maximise its racing performance. Complete with Lamborghini's four-wheel drive system, the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo is the only all-wheel drive mono-marque series.
"At the end of the straight are the Les Combes and the Malmedy corners: another right-left-right combination. Arrive at Les Combes in third and then take the last right-hander in fourth on the way to the Bruxelles corner. Shift down to second as you complete this right-hand, downhill hairpin. When you exit Bruxelles, you reach a long left-hand corner: start in third, then shift up to fourth or fifth to reach enough speed approaching Pouhon. This left-hander is my favourite part of the circuit; tight in the beginning, then it opens up."
Spa-Francorchamps is particularly dear to the Dutch driver: not only does he consider it to be an outstanding circuit to race on, but also thinks of it as something close to a home race. The Francorchamps village is only 150 km from Eindhoven where the Lamborghini pilot was born.
"When you get to Pouhon, wait with the throttle to get the right line into the 90 degree left-hander. As you exit there is a quick change of direction going downhill. Be careful with the brakes here: arrive in fifth, then shift down one gear. Try to take the rest of the corner flat out but take it more gently towards the end of the race to save your tyres. Exit Pouhon in fifth as you approach the 'Pif-Paf' or Fagnes, which is a right-left combination taken in third. Next up is the Stavelot double right-hander: first you enter the 90-degree turn, also called Campus, where you brake hard and shift down one gear to second. Accelerate early out of the second right-hander of the Stavelot as you reach the very long back straight.
"The back straight has a right and then a left kink," continues Kox. "When you reach the fastest corner on the track, Blanchimont, brake just a little to manage your tyres and be very precise as it is a really difficult turn. Next it's the left-right combination of the Bus Stop Chicane, which is a little bit uphill. Release the brake early to get the maximum traction with the four-wheel drive on the Lamborghini Super Trofeo. Finally, accelerate out of the corner as you get back to the start-finish straight."
The Dutch driver will enjoy a particularly busy weekend at Spa: as well as competing in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo he will also race a Lamborghini Murcielago R-SV 670-4 in the FIA GT1 World Championship with his Reiter Engineering team-mate Christopher Haase. The 24 Hours of Spa race will also feature Kox, a previous winner of the prestigious event, driving a GT3-spec Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 with team-mate Hayek. The Reiter Engineering driver will compete with the same Lamborghini race car that he races in the ADAC GT Masters Championship where he and team-mate Albert von Thurn und Taxis lead the Drivers' Standings.
Kox currently stands third in the Super Trofeo Pro Driver Standings with 42 points, 15 points behind the leader Fabio Babini. Having missed the most recent rounds at Paul Ricard HTTT, France, the multiple Super Trofeo race winner is looking forward to competing at the iconic Belgian track: "Spa is as good as people say it is: I don't believe there is a driver who doesn't like this track, and if there is then maybe he should choose another profession," said Kox jokingly as he prepares to resume his challenge for the top spot of the Super Trofeo Pro Drivers' Standings.