The latest item in our #LockdownChallenge for readers to submit written work for publication actually comes from a man who has already had an item published on DSC, Alex Harrison is the name behind the @WECData Twitter account. Here Alex takes a look at why we should be looking forward to the 6 Hours of Spa – now provisionally rescheduled for 15 August.
With the FIA WEC #1000MSebring cancelled, and the two subsequent rounds postponed, an air of anticipation hangs over the WEC’s 64th outing, and when it will be.
One certainty in all of this, however, is that the series will return to Spa at some point. An ever-present on the calendar, and the sight of many notable victories, Audi’s clean-sweep in the early years, Jota Sport a frequent LMP2 dark-horse, Toyota’s recent victories, Ford’s final WEC victory, and the familiar sight of Aston Martin Racing’s #98 on the top step in Am.
A season just wouldn’t be the same without Spa.
Here are 10 reasons to keep an eye out for the 2020 WEC 6 Hours of Spa.
1. Rebellion Racing return as a two-car outfit. Only Nat Berthon remains from their 2019 #4h Silverstone jaunt, with Loic Duval and Pipo Derani, who earned a 3rd place finish, replaced by 2016 WEC Champion Romain Dumas, and series-newcomer Loius Deletraz. The FIA F2-podium earner will join fellow series converts Luca Ghiotto, who made his debut at #6hFuji 2019 with Team LNT, and reigning F2 Champion Nyck de Vries, a winner at said round with Racing Team Nederland this season. In the team’s final 6 hour race, a repeat of their 2019 P2 finish is no doubt part of the plan!
2. In it’s final European 6 Hour race as a class, Spa has been kind over the years to LMP1. Never has there been more than a single retirement at one Spa meeting in the class, with just six cars from 64 failing to see the chequered flag. That includes the chaotic 2016 event, and the zero retirements last time.
3. GTE Am is super close. Just 2 points split the #83 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE, and #90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR. The #SuperSeason-opening 2018 outing hosted the closest-ever WEC GTE Am finish. Just 0.221 seconds splitting Aston Martin Racing’s #98, and the aforementioned (though the previous generation), #90. The tiny 6.5 points separating #83 from #98 at present is the closest-ever top-3 in the class.
4. A new fastest speed is likely. Team LNT’s Ginetta G60-LT-P1s have claimed the top speed at all four tracks they’ve visited this season. Rebellion Racing representing the non-Hybrids in their absence at COTA, honours going to Gustavo Menezes. At Spa, no WEC driver has ever gone quicker than Egor Orudzhev. The SMP Racing man reached 328.4 kph in the AER-powered BR1 back in 2018, or a cool 204 mph.
5. Speed is also the flavour of LMP2 in 2019/20, all five circuits visited thus far have seen a new top speed reached in the class. In Japan, Cetilar Racing’s Giorgio Sernagiotto reached 308.6 kph, in the Dallara P217, the new classes new fastest speed outside of Le Mans and breaking a record previously set at Spa. The high was shortlived, however, as Jota Sport’s Anthony Davidson took the Oreca 07 to 310.3 kph in China.
6. Despite the snow last year, the race quite incredibly saw all 34 of its starters classified at the finish, for only the 3rd time in WEC history. The race at COTA last month saw the feat repeated, for the first time in North America.
7. In the Porsche camp, the GT Team are hunting a win for just the second time this season, having lost their inherited victory at #6hShanghai back to AF Corse. The Weissach-squadron heads to Spa on its longest winless run since their GTE Pro-resurgence following Le Mans 2018. However, it has taken just a single class win in Belgium, back in 2012 at the hands of Richard Lietz and Marc Lieb. Lietz’s teammate Gianmaria Bruni meanwhile has won twice, in 2013 and 2014.
8. The race hosts the penultimate outing for Toyota’s TS050 HYBRID. Spa has held a three-peat of wins for the Japanese manufacturer, unbeaten there since 2017. A win for the #8 would be the first in Belgium for Brendon Hartley, whilst Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima would join Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy as winners of the #6hSpa four years in a row.
9. With United Autosport winning at COTA last time out, the #22 crew remarkably became the first since 2017 to win consecutive rounds in LMP2. Considering their lap 3 retirement at the Silverstone season-opener, four podiums thereafter now sees Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque sit atop the standings, 4 points ahead of Jackie Chan DC Racing’s #37. They could join Jota Sport, ADR-Delta and Manor as British-flagged podium-earners in the Ardennes.
10. Despite dropping further back in the GTE Pro title race at COTA, fans of Ferrari have reason to be optimistic ahead of Spa, with the undulating 7.004 km some of its favourites. In Belgium, the Prancing Horse has to date scored twice as many wins as the next brand, whilst its 10 total podiums equal their second-most fruitful WEC circuit.