Pitlane to podium

Shaun Lynn and Andrew Haddon upheld GT40 honour in the Spa Six Hours with aremarkable drive from 98th to first
By Marcus Pye

The growl of 4.7-litre Ford V8 engines on the breeze as darkness descended over Belgium’s Ardennes region became more prevalent as the 17th annual Spa Six Hours cemented its place as the world’s favourite endurance race for historic cars on September 26.

Jacky Ickx and Brian Redman’s 1968 1000Kms victory apart, Ford’s GT40 did not enjoy the greatest record on the old Francorchamps road circuit. In Pre-66 Grand Touring trim, however, and ranged against less exotic opposition on the current, shorter Formula 1 layout, the fabled model has been more successful.

This year’s edition of the Roadbook organisation’s classic featured a record seven GT40s pitched into battle against GT and Touring Car class opposition of which Shelby (AC) Cobra, Aston Martin DB4GT, Jaguar E-type, Shelby Mustang GT350 and TVR Griffith models had the most chance of springing a third successive surprise.

The GT40s of 2003 winner Christian Glaesel, fellow German Christopher Strahl and three-time champion Simon Hadfield set an unmatchable early pace, leaving the Cobras and E-types breathless. Glaesel and returning partner American Aaron Hsu extended a two-lap advantage before a collapsed rear wheel bearing put them out in the fifth hour.

With Hadfield and Leo Voyazides delayed by alternator failure, victory fell to Glaesel’s Lanzante team-mate Shaun Lynn, whose 2006-winning GT40 had started in the pitlane, 98th and last, having lost two engines in the preliminaries. Lynn, sharing with historic rally ace Andrew Haddon, conserved the ‘bitza’ motor to narrowly defeat the Cobras of ’07 winner David Hart (the Dutchman teamed with compatriot Jeroen Bleekemolen and Rob Hall), and Grahame and Ollie Bryant with Andrew Smith.

Touring Car honours were going the way of Ford ‘289’-powered cars. Roger Wills/Joe Twyman were clear when their thudding Mercury Comet Cyclone broke, leaving the door open for the Fleetwood Motors Mustang of Kiwis Neil Tolich and David Fitzsimons, with Bill Wykeham.

The Lotus 79/2’s historic Formula 1 debut, with American attorney Chris Locke up, made the Grand Prix Masters races, which also boasted two Williams FW07Cs and the unique ex-Tom Pryce Token of Belgian chef Christian Vanhee (pictured above). Only Manfredo Rossi (Brabham BT42/44) worried David Methley, who scored an impressive double in the ex-Patrick Neve March 761, which Patrick Head of Williams modified for the ’77 season.

The Masters Sportscar race, in which Lola T70 Mk3Bs populated a fifth of the 52-car grid, was notable for the presence of Belgian Paul Grant’s Healey SR, but was won by the Lola-Chevrolet of Martin Stretton/Jon Minshaw.

Germans Marcus Graf von Oeynhausen/Frank Stippler in their rapid Jaguar E-type earned GT & Sports Racing Endurance honours after a cracking duel with the Shelby American Cobra Daytona Coupé of Christian Glaesel/Ray Bellm before its engine tightened.