June 23, 2006
After the Valencia meet and the Ferrari Challenge weekend at Mugello, all the Corse Clienti vehicles will be heading for the paddock at Spa-Francorchamps where the Ferrari Days event will be held. This weekend will see over 400 Prancing Horse vehicles taking part. The rich programme will include Ferrari Challenge Europa and Historic Challenge races. There will also be F1 Clienti and FXX Programme (making its European debut) exhibition sessions held. To keep up with all the news and share the emotion felt whenever the cars visit Spa, consult the Corse Clienti section.
You all know that Spa can be considered the last of the ‘real’ circuits. It has been modified over the years to modernise it (though this has, in my opinion, got little to do with the sport) but its character is intact. It is a real circuit with numerous exciting curves in which the drivers have to do their best to set good times.
If Malmedy, Stavelot and Blanchimont evoke a thousand episodes and emotions, the real star can only be the fearsome Eau Rouge-Raidillon sequence. I think this is the most beautiful curve in the world. Coming out of La Source, it is straight onto the main straight (not that used for F1 starts). This is a short downhill straight that transforms into a right hander at the end. After skimming the wall, the driver steers the car towards the left in the Eau Rouge compression and has to fight the G-forces to turn the car right for the violent uphill. For the lucky drivers who come through the section unscathed, the danger is not yet over. Terrible accidents involving Alex Zanardi and Jaques Villeneuve are testimony to this. At the steepest point, the car has to be steered left again before stepping on the gas for the long Kemmel straight.
For some years now, the run off areas around this section have been widened but they are still smaller than standard (maybe this is the fascination of Spa). However, they still offer protection against running into the barriers at high speed. Obviously, the facilities and wall protection are more sophisticated than tyres linked by iron wire as they were until a few years ago. The asphalt that separates the track from the guard rail, though, is not that reassuring. The driver has to hold his breath going through Eau Rouge and then there are six more kilometres before the lap is over.
The Ferrari Challenge Europa entrants will drive their F430s along the curves and dips of the circuits. The fantastic Historic Challenge vehicles will once more dip into the past as they race along the Ardennes track. If you have the chance to drop by the circuit, do so. It will be worth it.