Spa Track Works
Being as Spa Francorchamps is only a short drive from the Nürburgring, I decided that it would be worth a pre season trip over there to see if it was possible to have a look around.
So an early rendezvous with fellow instructor Patrick from Lotus Specialist www.britishcars-parts.com, we headed to Spa Francorchamps.
For many resident Nürburgring drivers along with the many visitors from other countries that make a pilgrimage to Nürburgring they often find themselves also partaking in trackdays or racing there also. Many of the local race teams also run there as well. I myself instruct there many times each year and also enjoy one of the greatest Grand Prix tracks in the world but with two wheels rather than four. So a look at the track developments there seemed a good idea.
So what have they been doing? Yes there have been releases in the media about altering many aspects of the track and the infrastructure. There are several elements at play going on. The first is to provide the track with the necessary improvements in safety to reintroduce world championship motorcycle racing. This involves much work to increase some areas of land to facilitate the inclusion of gravel traps and or run off area. Areas where new or extended gravel traps have been installed are La Source, Le Combes, Bruxelles, Pouhon, Stavelot, Paul Frère, Blanchimont, and Bus-stop. Now for the attention of the car drivers where most of the gravel traps have been installed there is still an area beyond the curb/track edge that has retained a strip of run off before you reach the gravel. As an example, running away from Stavelot Paul Frère towards Blanchimont1 the gravel starts prior to The corner and extends to after where the run off used to be after Blanchimont (the fast but slower of the two lefts) however for most of this area there is a strip of tarmac separating the track and the gravel of about 4/5metres.
Another example is Pouhon. The old run off area has now been divided up in a similar way. After leaving the track approximately one third of the run off remains but the outside two thirds are now gravel. Many of the other areas follow a similar pattern.
Now the second area that has had major modifications is the Speakers corner (the left after the downhill hairpin). Here the track has added an additional earlier left turn. This is to allow motorcycles to take an earlier turn that negates using the old left turn as there is insufficient room for run off or gravel there without removing the mountain side. In my photos you can clearly see the two layout options. Word is that only bikes will use the new option be it in racing or trackdays.
Eau Rouge/Raidillon has obviously had much work to provide much more run off area to the left side running up and over the top of Raidillon. This obviously has provided added safety for cars and bikes. After Raidillon towards the right side the end of the run off where the true wall used to be has also been extended to abound out of control cars slamming into the tyre wall as experienced in several high profile incidents in recent years.
In addition to the on-track work the build of the new grandstand is progressing very well. The area on the left running away from La Source towards Eau Rouge has also been massively increased. Later developments will be new grandstands that will replace the old stands that have now been demolished. Much resurfacing is going on within the paddocks and other areas.
So in many ways the track has taken on a big evolution but in my opinion it is still going to be one of the greatest tracks in the world but made even better. Seeing new spectator facilities is always a welcome development as is safety improvements but please always keep in the back of your mind that Spa can still bit hard, as it also has when drivers/riders make mistakes.
Many thanks for reading