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    Spa-Francorchamps, secrets revealed by Pier Guidi

    Maranello 28 aprile 2021

    Spa-Francorchamps is a track with few equals either in Europe or the world, a compendium of technical turns, slow and fast, ups and downs that follow one another non-stop for over seven kilometres. The Belgian circuit is one of Europe’s iconic tracks and a drivers’ favourite. It is certainly Alessandro Pier Guidi’s favourite track along with Road America. On the eve of the opening round of the FIA WEC held on the circuit nestled in the Ardennes forests, together with the 2017 world champion, we look at three points where the drivers can make a difference, Eau Rouge, Pouhon and the Bus Stop.

    “L’Eau Rouge is an iconic turn of the Spa-Francorchamps track and is very challenging for us drivers who tackle it”, began the driver of AF Corse 488 GTE no. 51. “It has to be driven at full pelt, but it’s not as easy as it looks because we need a perfect line, to cut in and hug close to the kerbs, using as little steering angle as possible to not lose speed, also because it’s followed by a long straight. At the same time, it’s also easy to exceed track limits at the top, which invalidates the lap time. It’s never easy to find the right compromise to take this turn perfectly”.

    In the race, exit speed is essential to creating a passing opportunity at the end of the long Kemmel straight. From that point on, the track begins its descent towards Blanchimont. However, before that, there are many snares to contend with, like the fearsome “Double Gauche”, also known as Pouhon.

    “It’s a high-speed turn that we take in fifth gear”, explains Pier Guidi. “Also, in this case, we have to find the right compromise between braking and immediately hitting the throttle. This balance is key to being fast on this section because if we delay braking or accelerate too early, we risk ending up wide of the ideal line and losing precious tenths in lap time. It’s one of those curves that, when taken correctly, is very satisfying as a driver”.

    At Spa-Francorchamps, we can’t relax for a moment, not even when the lap is almost over. The Bus Stop conceals serious hidden dangers. “The Bus Stop is an ostensibly simple corner, a chicane to be taken in first gear”, continues the Italian. “The tricky aspect is the braking point because we enter that section after driving the previous segment at full throttle, and we need to slow the car down despite the bumpiness of the tarmac that makes it easy to lock the front tyres. It’s very difficult to hit the limit to gain tenths of a second and not make a mistake when braking. We have to be very precise. Another key to tackling this section well is to stay close to the kerbs to find a good exit line which allows us to accelerate faster to gain speed on the finish straight and create a new passing opportunity at the La Source hairpin”.