Chevron takes Spa spoils

Michael Schimer and Simon Hadfield scored a narrow victory in Motor Classic’s Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps last month, in the former’s Lotus twin-cam Chevron B6, which first raced at the Ardennes circuit 30 years ago. The Britons completed the job started last year, when clutch failure put them out while leading, but a frantic chase to make up time lost after Schryver went off the road twice in treacherous conditions put them ahead of the brilliantly driven Austin-Healey 3000 of Denis and Jeremy Welch only in the final half hour. Pursued by Tony Thompson in Frenchman Sylvain Stepak’s 23, Hadfield set the early pace in the B6, but Bob Tabor’s decision to find a steady rhythm in his front-row starting Lotus 23 was thwarted when he was barged off at Les Combes on the opening lap. He pitted and resumed, a lap down, at the tail of the extraordinary 85-car field.

All eyes, however, were on the Welchs, whose Healey was retrieved from impossible angles at every corner. Although neither driver put a wheel wrong, an errant Porsche cost them victory when an outbraking manoeuvre forced a livid Denis to miss the Bus Stop chicane and earn a stop and go penalty. The Welch team was classified as runner-up, a minute behind the Chevron, with Frenchmen Blanchemain and Rucheton also on 99 laps in their Lotus Seven. The Porsche of Felix Brasseur, the Jaguar E of the Italian brothers Tonetti and the Healey of Hugo Judice and Philippe Duchateau completed the top six. The Lotus 23 teams had mixed fortunes. Thompson was run off the road in the early stages, and Stepak subsequently survived a multiple spin downhill past the pits into Eau Rouge before retiring. Tabor and Motor Sport’s Marcus Pye made up ground consistently, and a detemiined final stint by Hadfield swept the car past a local-driven Merlyn Mk6 on the last lap to 19th place.

Pye was also involved in a long battle to bring Gerard MacQuillan’s Monmouth Trust Elan up the order, a task completed when the inspired Gerry Wainwright reeled in and overhauled the bestplaced Elan of Van Der Stappen and Magalhaes with a lap to run.