Spa 4H Classic: Race Report and Review

Posted: 1st July 2017

Close racing – Wet racing – Safety cars and red flags – Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Ducati, Laverda, Moto Guzzi – Harris, P&M, Moto Martin, Segale, Bakker – What a weekend

What a weekend. The Spa Francorchamps 4 Hour round of the European Classic Series saw some of the closest and wettest classic endurance racing in recent years; going into the final hour the top four teams were all on the same lap with fifth and sixth places just behind.

Conditions were appalling, but the same for everyone. The rain had been falling for nearly twenty four hours before the race started, and continued almost to the end before turning to mist and fog in the closing stages. With the amount of spray around, to the riders it made little difference. Several of the leading riders described their bikes as being constantly on the point of sliding or losing grip everywhere, with lap times being dependent on managing the limited grip.

In the end, the race was shortened by a red flag and – arguably – decided by the intervention of the two safety cars; eventual winners Neate Racing ended up behind one car, while the chasing pack of Team Force, Team Taurus and Sweatshop Phase One were behind the other car, appearing to give Team Neate a half lap advantage. They had, however had more than that before the safety car intervention so although we were denied a sprint finish by the red flag, the win was truly deserved.

The final result shows Team Neate (Honda Magnum) 2 minutes 38 seconds clear of second placed Team Taurus (Suzuki XR69 Rep), who were in turn just 4 seconds clear of Sweatshop Phase One No.4 (P&M Suzuki), with Team Force (Suzuki F1) a further two seconds adrift in fourth place. Kasier Endu Team (Bakker Kawasaki) and Team Alf's (P&M Kawasaki) were recorded as finishing on the same lap, with seventh placed Team Classic Suzuki No.54 (Suzuki Katana) and Roadrunner Team (Suzuki GSX1100) a lap down, followed by Team SCERT (Harris Suzuki) another lap behind and ACR1 (Kawasaki Z1100J) a further lap adrift in tenth place.

Other finishers included Suderia ACR II (Ducati 900SS) - top Ducati - in 15th place, Wildthing Racing Team (Yamaha Moto Martin) – top Yamaha – in 16th, Van Dijk Laverda Endurance (Laverda 1000) in 18th, German Guzzi Classic Team (Moto Guzzi Le Mans) in 24th, Roest (BMW R100) in 26th place, and Amici Miei (Ducati 750TT) in 31st place. 37 teams were classified as finishing.

And then there was all the other stuff going on over the weekend; the parages, the other races, the trackday sessions, the 'Lifestyle Village'...

All of this was going on just 200 miles ride from Calais, with open access throughout the paddock for most of the weekend, reasonably priced accommodation nearby, chips and mayo wherever you looked and quality beer on tap. Does anyone know when the 2018 dates will be confirmed?

Words: Martin Gelder, Photos: Martin Gelder