The Ardennes toboggan is aptly named. Located in the Belgian Ardennes, the circuit is partly in the forest. Bad weather can sometimes affect one area while another place is dry. Another characteristic is that the place is very hilly. Hence the steep slope of Eau Rouge. A monument in terms of competition. A fault in this area can lead to an accident.
Jacques Villeneuve, for example, went out two years in a row at the top of the raidillon.
L’Eau Rouge and its steep slope
This section consists of a succession of bends that begins after a slight left downhill leading to a bowl followed by a curve to the right with a steep slope, climb followed by a curve to the left at its summit before starting the line. Kemmel’s right.
The drivers gain momentum on the descent following the exit of the Source hairpin bend and, today, most cars go through this sequence thoroughly; at more than 300 km / h in the case of F1.
On open road
Designed in 1921 by Jules de Thier and Henri Langlois Van Ophem, the original 14.981 km route was roughly shaped like a triangle connecting Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot and used public roads open to traffic under normal conditions. If the circuit bears the name of Spa, no part of the route passes through its territory.
The 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps were organized there for the first time in 1924, one year after the 24 hours of Le Mans, and the Belgian Grand Prix the following year.
A circuit that has been modified many times
Over time, the speeds reached make the circuit more and more dangerous. Jackie Stewart became a fierce opponent of the circuit after his accident in 1966. Dan Gurney used to say of this circuit that he « differentiated men from little boys ».
In 1970, new modification of the circuit which becomes shorter. Apart from the 24 hours and the Formula 1 Grand Prix, Spa is the scene of the 1000 km of Spa, a sport-prototype race.
1973, Pescarolo speed record holder
On May 5 and 6, 1973, on the old 14,120 km circuit, the 1,000 km of Spa took place. Henri Pescarolo drives a Matra 670B. During the race, he completed a lap in 3’13 » and 4 tenths, for an average of 262.461 km / h. A world speed record on the road circuit, which still stands 45 years later.
The day before during qualifying, Jacky Ickx on a Ferrari 312P had achieved an anthology lap which placed him in pole position; 3’12 »70 hundredths, or 263.415 km / h. But, during testing, the record was not formalized.
2018, a tribute to Belgian footballers
During the 24 hours of Spa, the other big event on the circuit with the F1 GP, BMW wanted to pay tribute to the third place of the Belgian national team – the Red Devils – by decorating in a special way cars of the Rowe Racing team, BMW M6 GT3.
It will not be an easy race. Very quickly, the race neutralizations multiply; 13 safety car exits in 24 hours… During the night, a crash between two cars resulted in a red flag while it was time to clear the track.
BMW to victory
After new neutralizations, including one for a collision between three cars, the M6 GT3 n ° 34 is leading. She will take the win, followed at 11 seconds by another BMW M6 GT3 # 99 from Rowe Racing. An elegant way to pay homage.
It was BMW’s 24th victory in this race reserved for GTs. A record for the brand with the propeller on the Spa circuit since the second, Porsche, did not do better than 8 victories.