During the 13th edition of the Bikers’ Classics on the legendary circuit at Spa-Francorchamps competitors and spectators suffered from a heatwave with temperatures up to 37ºC. Jan Burgers suffered the heat to bring us the story.
Words and photographs: Jan Burgers
The few race fans that had the courage to attend the event had to put up with a completely different setup for the GP Parades, with no big-bike heroes from the past this time, but 50-80 and 125cc riders and their machines.
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Plus an extra class with machines and riders from the 1950-1960 period. Perhaps this change had an effect on the number of fans attending.
After paying for their entrance fee the fans discovered that only about half of the promised 80 riders from the 1950-60s in the race programme were present. There were only two replica MVAgustas, no works Benelli, and no Moto Guzzi eight-cylinder.
Stars such as Hugh Anderson, Eugenio Lazzarini, and Alex George, to mention just a few, were not present – much to the disappointment of the organisation itself – for various reasons.
For the last parade of the 1950-60s class only 23 riders felt obliged to be on the grid. However, on Sunday spectators enjoyed a well-filled field of 50-80 and 125cc riders and their machines.
World Champions Jan de Vries and Henk van Kessel and Grand Prix winners Julien van Zeebroeck, Theo Timmer and Aalt Toersen were present.
Thankfully the 4 Hours of Spa race was spectacular, as was the IHRO – Belgian Classic Grand Prix. However, it was cold comfort to many a devoted race fan.
The 4 Hours of Spa Classic at Spa-Francorchamps might well have been one of the hottest night endurance races ever.
At 10pm the temperature was still 30ºC. It was blood, sweat and tears for riders, team bosses and mechanics.
Favourite teams for the win such as the Belgian Team Force with reigning European champions Richard Hubin and Gregory Fastré, pole sitters Stéphane Mertens and Ian Simpson of Sweatshop Phase One and Armor Classic Bike team, all failed to finish.
Sweatshop Phase One II (Brasher-Linden), the Dutch Roadrunner Team (Van der Mark-Brand) and Bolliger Classic Endurance team (Kellenberger-Stierly-Schanz) did well by finishing second, fourth and seventh, scoring valuable points for the championship.
The win went to Manfred Kaiser and Achim Steinmacher, who rode their 1170cc Kawasaki to the top step of the podium in 2013 too.
They completed 83 laps during the 4 Hour heat haze.
The Classic 1000 class was won by the Italians Emiliano Bellucci, Orest Zaccarelli and Simone Quieti on the 1976 Kawasaki K900 from the Scuderia Officine Toscane.
They finished eighth overall, quite an achievement.
With only one more race to go the Dutch Roadrunner Team of former 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Van der Mark and Brand led the standings with 26 points ahead of Team Force and the Kaiser Classic Endurance Team.
The Belgian Classic Grand Prix was organised for the second time at the Spa circuit.
The GP is a merge from the International Historic Racing Organisation (IHRO) and Classic Racing Motorcycles Belgium (CRMB).
The two classes fit well together and there were 80 starters.
This time the Patons, raced by Italian Dario Tosolini, Swiss Peter Beugger and Belgian Raf Blanckaert were the bikes to beat.
Only Dutchman Jan-Frank Bakker on a Seeley-BSA and Frenchman Bruno Leroy on the Vincent could stay near the Patons.Enjoy more Classic Racer reading in the bi-monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.