Ready for Spa-Francorchamps. The first real stage of what promises to be a long, challenging season got off to an exciting start at Vallelunga. The pre-season tests saw the Trofeo’s new aerodynamic package make its debut and almost all the drivers gave them the thumbs-up. The modifications to the car have tweaked the way it handles in medium-fast stretches and boosted its performance.
One of the drivers who adapted quickest was Mauro Calamia, a title pretender. The Swiss Team driver was fastest on the circuit, even though not all the drivers went flat out. If he maintains this form, Kuppens could have a true rival to contend with at the famous Ardennes circuit. This is where the Trofeos will be battling it out come the next weekend.
Year built: 1920
Circuit Length: 7,395 m
Total capacity: 70,000
Spa is one of the most attractive world championship circuits, one of those "old-time" tracks that have never undergone any radical modifications. Set in the green hills of the Ardennes the track retains more or less all the technical features of the original circuit (which was about 14 kilometres long). That means it is very exciting from start to finish and its highly technical layout is capable of really highlighting the difference between a proficient driver and a champion. Racing enthusiasts cannot but be thrilled as cars take the Eau Rouge or Radillon and feel they are in there with the drivers as they tackle this terrifying dip flat out.
Obviously, it is not only Eau Rouge-Radillon which allows drivers to set fast times. The central part of the Spa circuit is intriguing too and characterised by a sequence of fast, swooping corners and short straights. This second stretch is probably the most technical, since it demands special driving skills to avoid spinning (and running fairly low levels of downforce can complicate matters).
After the mixed stretch coming out of the treacherous Stavelot, we go back in history to the evocative straight in the Ardennes woods - Blanchimont - leading to the Bus Stop, the chicane where drivers always come to within a hair's breadth of the wall as they accelerate out. Spa-Francorchamps is also famous for its unsettled weather conditions, which often present drivers with wet and dry sections over a track almost seven kilometres long!
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