Ferrari detail. Ferrari Owners' Club
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Ferrari Happenings

Spa Ferrari Days 2003
by Sydney Brown

Held at one of Europe's most challenging circuits ,Spa Francorchamps played host to three days of Ferrari activity from Friday 25 through Sunday 27 April.

The programme of events provided one and a half days of practice and one and a half days racing and gave us double-headers in each of the following categories:

  • Ferrari Challenge Trofeo A + B
  • Shell Historic Challenge A
  • Shell Historic Challenge B
  • Shell Historic Challenge C
  • Class B + Pirelli Maranello Challenge

Interspersed throughout the event were free laps of the circuit available to members of Ferrari clubs. F1 demonstrations were planned for Saturday and Sunday but only happened on Sunday when, in addition to the ex-Lauda and Schumacher cars, a 333SP put in a number of demo laps. Factory test driver Fillipe Massa was present.

As ever at Spa, the weather played a significant part in the programme. Friday was warm and dry, Saturday was cold and wet and Sunday showery. All of which meant that racing grids were decided on Friday's practice times. The circuit itself has undergone several improvements in recent times, the most visible of which is the widening of the Eau Rouge run-off area and the new pit lane exit, which now feeds in above Eau Rouge.

Despite the vagaries of the weather there were not too many major incidents and the safety car was only deployed once throughout the weekend.

Racing got underway on early Saturday afternoon with the Shell Historic Challenge A, a seven lap race with seven of the nine entrants making it to the grid - six Maseratis and a lone P3 Alfa. The winner, Bscher, led from pole to flag ahead of Von Schenk (both 250Fs) ahead by some 40 seconds of third place man Schollwock (6CM), with the aforementioned P3 Alfa a very creditable fifth.

The Shell Historic Challenge B was another seven lapper, with a grid of 23 starters - a splendid selection of Ferrari and Maserati sports-racers, including no less than six 250 SWBs, a 250 GTO (Kroymans) and three Maserati 300s.

An excellent start by Gaye (250 SWB), who overtook pole-sitter Binnie and was followed by Bscher who pressured the leader thereafter. Kroymans (250 GTO) took third place on lap two. Such was the pace that the leader was lapping back-markers after four laps. Bscher maintained the gap at two seconds until lap six when it widened to four seconds. Binnie and Laidlaw managed to pass Kroymans for third and fourth places respectively.

The Shell Historic Challenge C race was eight laps and included three Competition Daytonas plus one of the rare Traco-prepared NART spec. cars owned and driven by Jean Guikas.

Bosch made a fantastic start driving the much-campaigned Comp. Daytona and led for two laps until being overtaken by pole-man Hardman driving the Leventis' 330P3. Monteverde ended up in the gravel on lap two but managed to re-join, albeit well down the field. Hardman won by just over a minute from Bosch, who was 30 seconds ahead of third placed Guikas. Only six cars completed the full tally of laps.

The final race on Saturday was a real thriller. The Pirelli Maranello Challenge entrants were joined by four Class B runners, which included Vanina Ickx and Ward in 360/Chs, Machiels' F40 and Dantinne's 308GTB/4. Vanina Ickx (daughter of Le Mans winner Jackie) was on pole but stalled as a result of a delayed start and moved to the back of the grid for the re-start. She picked up ten places by the first half lap and finished the first lap in sixth place, some fifteen and a half seconds behind the leader Carter. Her pace continued - fifth by the end of lap two (13.8 seconds adrift) and third by the end of lap three (11.5 seconds back). A delay in getting past second placed Niarchos cost her time. She eventually finished second, 4.7 seconds behind the winner, who must have breathed a sigh of relief that the race was shortened by one lap to seven - especially since the last lap was her fastest. So it ended in the order Carter, Ickx, Niarchos. A pole to flag result can be boring but a drive through the field like this is exciting.

Sunday's Ferrari Challenge Trofeo A + B was eight laps of hard driving, resulting in a certain amount of vehicle attrition. Won by John Bosch from Cullen, who missed out by 0.4 seconds after a storming last lap, with the German Norbert Graf in third place. Konig won Class B.

The second Shell Historic Challenge A was of seven lap duration, with seven cars on the grid. As on the previous day the winner was Bscher, with Von Schenk second and Schwolleck third, after Laidlaw spun and re-joined in fourth. Von Schenk was two seconds behind the winner but 34 seconds ahead of third.

The second Pirelli Maranello Challenge race with four Class Bs saw Vanina Ickx on pole again but this time she was overtaken by Machiels (F40) and Carter on lap four, whereafter Machiels came into the pits to serve a ten second penalty. Thereafter it was all about how quickly Machiels could make up lost ground. Morley moved into third place on the last lap and overtook Ickx for second, behind the winning F40. Machiels won by 10.6 seconds, with Ickx third a further 3.3 seconds adrift.

The second Shell Historic Challenge B again saw the Belgian Vincent Gaye win from pole to flag with his 250 SWB. Binnie in the Maser 300S was second, 2.3 seconds back, with the Dutchman Frederico Kroymans in the 250 GTO a further 22.7 seconds behind. There were one or two incidents in this race - the 250 Boano of Gertsh hit a wall on lap five, resulting in frontal damage. The 250 GTO of Kroymans also sustained light rear end damage.

The second Shell Historic Challenge C could only muster a grid of nine cars but what it lacked in quantity it made up for in quality, with 312P and 512M in the hands of Binnie and Stieger respectively and, given that the track was beginning to dry out, they were able to put their power down more effectively.

Hardman (330P3) led from pole, Binnie overtook Guikas for third place on lap two and Bosch for second on lap three and had closed right up on Hardman by the end of the same lap. Whereafter he moved into the lead on lap five to win by 8.3 seconds from Hardman in second, who in turn was followed by Bosch a further 14.6 seconds back.

The final race of the meeting was Race 2 of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo A + B, which was a "flying start" with Bosch on pole. Bisconcin overtook Cullen for second place on lap two. The safety car was deployed on lap three in response to an incident at the "Bus Stop". As a result, the field closed up and when the race resumed Bisconcin kept up the pressure on Bosch until he overtook him on lap six, only to be re-taken shortly thereafter. Bisconcin made his decisive move at the end of lap six at La Source, whereafter the race settled down somewhat. The winner was Bisconcin with Bosch second and Cullen third. Santini was the Class B winner.

So that was it, as the commentator put it "three days on the roller-coaster in the Belgian Ardennes", or, as some other wag promised us - Sunday's temperature would be 26 degrees - 13 in the morning and 13 in the afternoon!!! - either way an event not to be missed.


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