Spa’s winter overhaul revealed

After several months, and almost £67m, track safety work on one of the world’s best-loved circuits is almost complete

Chris Amon (Ferrari) leads Copper-Maserati team-mates Jochin Rindt

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Spa-Francorchamps is nearing the end of its government-backed £67m winter revamp aimed at both improving the safety of the Belgian Grand Prix venue and also attracting back one of its most famous motorcycle races.

The circuit has agreed a deal to revive the Spa 24 Hours motorcycle race for the first time since 2003, with the event set to take place this June as part of the FIM Endurance World Championship. The event had been a major draw for the circuit back as far as the early 1970s when it began as the 24 Hours of Liège.

Spa Francorchamps redevelopment 2022

There was once a grandstand here… honest! The old ‘Endurance’ stand is gone, to be replaced by a more modern structure

CIRCUIT DE SPA FRANCORCHAMPS

Spa Francorchamps redevelopment 2022

CIRCUIT DE SPA FRANCORCHAMPS

However, in order to obtain the necessary FIM Grade C licence the Ardennes track had to commit to a raft of track alterations. This, along with the fallout from a handful of major incidents at the Eau Rouge/Raidillon section , including the collision that claimed the life of F2 star Anthoine Hubert in 2019 and a huge crash during last year’s 24 Hours of Spa GT race which injured Williams ’ F1 reserve Jack Aitken , has prompted the track’s bosses to commit to a wide range of safety and spectator upgrades. Work began back in November.

Spa Francorchamps redevelopment 2022

Extra runoff areas and relocated barriers are the plan for Malmedy

CIRCUIT DE SPA FRANCORCHAMPS

Easily the most noticeable of the changes comes at Eau Rouge/Raidillon, where the famous chalet overlooking the crest of the corner has been demolished to make way for both improved runoff and a new 4600-seat grandstand complete with VIP boxes. The actual track layout for these two world-famous corners has not been altered, but runoff on both sides is being greatly expanded.

The old ‘Endurance’ grandstand opposite the pits has also been demolished to make way for a more modern spectator structure.

Spa Francorchamps redevelopment 2022

New gravel traps are being added around the track to help make the venue safer for cars and bikes

CIRCUIT DE SPA FRANCORCHAMPS

Spa Francorchamps redevelopment 2022

CIRCUIT DE SPA FRANCORCHAMPS

Several corners are also having gravel traps added to replace Tarmac runoff. The old Astroturf exit of La Source will be replaced by gravel, with new traps being installed at the Les Combes chicane, Malmedy, Bruxelles hairpin and also Blanchimont – the extremely fast left-hand kink near the end of the lap having been the scene of its own number of frightening accidents in recent years.

Spa Francorchamps redevelopment 2022

A new gravel trap is being installed at the Bus Stop Chicane, to aid bike safety

CIRCUIT DE SPA FRANCORCHAMPS

The circuit will also have a series of new service roads installed, which is timely given the huge amount of damage that last year’s devastating flash floods caused, with some of the circuit entrance roads collapsing entirely.

While any change to one of the world’s greatest racing circuits is likely to be met with a mixed response (give up on dreams of a return to the 1960s-style terrifyingly open Eau Rouge , above – those days are long gone… ) , for once the call for more gravel and less Tarmac runoff is actually being answered, which ought to make Spa even more challenging, and safer, than before.

 

Spa Francorchamps redevelopment 2022

The biggest works come at Eau Rouge/ Raidillon, where the old chalet has gone to make way for more runoff, pushed-back guardrails and a new grandstand

CIRCUIT DE SPA FRANCORCHAMPS

Spa Francorchamps redevelopment 2022

CIRCUIT DE SPA FRANCORCHAMPS

Spa Francorchamps redevelopment 2022

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