Rob Widdows' highlight of the year


It’s a tough one but, after much agonising, my moment of the year has to be the Blancpain Endurance Series at magnificent Spa-Francorchamps. A thrilling encounter gave Audi their first victory in the 24 Hours of Spa, the world’s second oldest 24-hour race.

You might expect sunshine in late July. But not in the Ardennes. No, this was Spa as we have seen it so many times. Torrential rain, a river running down Eau Rouge, mud everywhere and some heroic motor racing.

No less than 62 cars lined up for the start, so it was always going to be a matter of keeping out of trouble, especially at night, in a thunderstorm. But these races are no longer a reliability exercise, they are flat-out sprints, and this one went right down to the wire as the Audis raced each other for the team’s third long-distance victory on the trot.

There are precious few better places to watch a racing driver at work. Spa may not be the challenge it once was but it remains a test of both skill and bravery. It is very fast, you will pay dearly for a mistake. Not a place for the faint-hearted, not at night when the mist hangs in the valleys, the rain comes down like a waterfall and lightning flashes overhead.

I have long since reported on this race, so suffice to say Audi got it all right and were followed home by a BMW Z4 which had come from 49th on the grid. This was a thriller all the way, however, with no time to dwell on soaking wet feet.

A few days later the Formula 1 teams came to Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix. As I left my hotel on the Monday, Madame told me the next occupant of my room would be Bernie Ecclestone. That was a good moment. Hope I didn’t leave anything under the bed.

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