FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps - The Speed Chills Preview

eau rouge spaf 2011

This weekend sees the running of the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Deep in the Ardennes forest, this fast, twisting track is rated among drivers as one of the best in the world.

Spa has everything: tight chicanes, long sweeping straights and what is possibly the most famous corner in the world. The Bus Stop, Kemmel and Eau Rouge are names synonymous with motor racing, so when you combine it with the premier endurance racing series you know something good will be created.

And when you make that creation the final race before Le Mans, it suddenly becomes that much more important.

Audi’s victory in the first round at Silverstone was emphatic but unrepresentative of what’s to come at Le Mans, with the German experts’ 2013 spec cars being pitted against last year’s Toyotas. In a few days time we’ll see just how competitive this year’s 24 Hours could be, as Toyota will finally be racing their own 2013 car at the hands of Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima.

In the LMP1 privateer class, Strakka Racing will be keen to forget their Silverstone woes and make a fresh attack on Rebellion racing, but the plucky Brits could find it hard to beat the Swiss team who have looked so strong for so long.

LMP2 is almost too close to call; a great race for Delta-ADR three weeks ago has them leading the championship, but competitive entries from Pecom, Oak Racing and Greaves Motorsport mean that the P2 crown at Spa will be hotly contested and hard won.

GTE Pro saw a storming start for Aston Martin with the #97 taking a commanding win at Silverstone, They’ll be hoping to extend their lead in the WEC with a third V8 Vantage at Spa, hoping to crowd out their AF Corse and Porsche competition and giving themselves the best chance at a centenary win at Le Mans.

The Am class showed at Silverstone just how strong Aston are, with their all Danish ‘Young Driver’ #95 taking the chequered flag first, but at Spa they’ll have to deal with what are sure to be strong showings from cars such as Larbre’s Corvette, the Proton Porsche and AF Corse’s Am entry. With Spa being a vastly different kettle of fish to the flat, complex tarmac of the first round, will the Brits be able to repeat their successes or will somebody else come to the fore?

It’s a tight, hectic schedule in Belgium this weekend; two practice sessions and qualifying on Friday and the race on Saturday, so teams will be aware that any mistakes will be dangerous amid the unforgiving greenery. But whatever happens it’s sure to be an exciting race, a great show and an enlightening precursor to next month’s greatest race in the world.

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Jamie Snelling is a freelance motor sports journalist and 6-time Speed Chills veteran