The 4 Hours of Spa Classic has become an essential part of the Bikers’ Classics at Spa- Francorchamps. On Saturday evening, the fourth of July, the second race of the prestigious European Classic Series will get underway with a famous Le Mans start. Over 60 teams with riders from ten countries make for an impressive grid.
Team Force from Belgium started their Euopean title defense in the best possible way early April in France. On the Paul Ricard du Castellet circuit the former Endurance World Champions Richard Hubin and Gregory Fastré managed to win the season opener and with their home race coming up, it is safe to say Hubin and Fastré are the favourites in the 4 Hours of Spa Classic. Also because the fast couple rode their Harris Suzuki to glory at the 2014 edition. And Hubin may have turned 61 recently, being a two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Liège he knows his way around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit better than anyone. Nevertheless, Hubin and Fastré can be sure to face strong opposition. The British Phase One team, with the renowned Russell Benney at the helm, combines experience and professionalism with speed. This year the team enlisted Stéphane Mertens and the Belgian rider is a true Francorchamps specialist. Merten s, who only just missed out on the 1989 World Superbike title, will be partnered with Ian Simpson. But Phase One even has a second team coming to Francorchamps, with Hugh Brasher and the experienced Swede Peter Linden; both of them no strangers to the Francorchamps circuit. The teams will do everything to do better than last year when Phase One finished third in Belgium. At Le Castellet, the 2014 runner-up team in the European series finished a close second to Team Force.
The entry list of the 4 Hours of Spa Classic shows teams that are annual competitors at Francorchamps and who have turned into well-known faces of the European Classic Series. The beautiful Kawasaki GPZ1000 of the Swiss Bolliger Classic Endurance Racing Team has the speed to finish on the podium, as does the Honda of the Italian Team Segale Classic. Both teams did well in France but just missed out on a rostrum position. So did the Dutch pairing of Henk van der Mark and Dirk Brand, finishing fourth. Every year, the 1984 winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans are highly motivated to do well at Spa-Francorchamps. If they stay out of trouble on their Bakker-Suzuki, the Dutch friends might prove to be dangerous outsiders. Whether Eric Mizera and Yannick Le Gaudu will settle for an outsider role, remains to be seen. The fast French duo of Armor Classic Bike finished third in their home event.
The German Kaiser Classic Endurance Team won the 2013 edition of the 4 Hours of Spa Classic and once again will be lining up on the grid, as will the speedy Italian Team Taurus and the ‘Real Dholda Friends’ Gian Mertens and Willy De Neef. With their Moto Guzzi Le Mans the American Team Guzzi Nerd will surely attract a lot of attention. On their big twin, they will certainly have their work cut out for them, battling the strong four-cylinder opposition in the Maxi Classic class. The colourful and diverse grid will not only feature Japanese ‘fours’ but also Ducatis, BMWs and an occassional Norton and BSA. On top of that, the unpredictable weather in the Belgian Ardennes has been known to play an important part in the race!
As usual, during the eighth edition of the 4 Hours of Spa Classic, riders and teams will battle for the win in three different classes. Because of this, riders and their teams cannot afford to lose their concentration in the pitlane nor on the challenging 7 kilometre long track. When finally the chequered flag is waved at midnight, there will of course be elation, joy or disappointment within yards in the pitlane. Knowing that the final race for the title will be held in October in Aragon, every team will realise that there will be no room for error in Belgium.