WEC: Endurance “Made in Belgium”
They’re on the way! Another three weeks and Francorchamps will be sparkling with WEC flavours. The 2012 season of race car meetings will be offering an out-of- the ordinary show: the prototypes involved in the FIA World Endurance Championship; in fact, those involved in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. The WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps: a new name for this competition that will be branded into the history of the most beautiful Circuit in the world. At the time called the World Sports Car Championship, the prototypes with the thoroughbred silhouette first set off in 1963. For this first time taking part on our land, we were entitled to hear our national anthem, thanks to the victory of Willy Mairesse in a Ferrari 250 GTO, an exploit which he repeated two years later.
In fact, the proto adapts itself well to Black Yellow Red. Jacky Ickx invited himself to it five times, in 1967, 1968, 1974, 1982 and in 1983. Brilliant in our Ardennes, Jacky rapidly jostled his way up the hierarchy of the Sports Protos to become known simply as “Monsieur Le Mans”. He found himself on the Le Mans starting grid 17 times, and got himself on the highest step of the podium in 1969, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1981 and 1982. Even better is that Jacky showed his spirit when he walked instead of ran at one of the famous Le Mans starts and took the time to strap himself in, thus being last off, but 24 Hours later was savouring the victory champagne. Class! A Gentleman !
Olivier Gendebien and Paul Frère were also amongst our exceptional champions.
Return to Francorchamps where Belgium was still going to be able to count on Thierry Boutsen to write a chapter of the Anthology with a tiny one second victory on Derek Warwick. Have a look at the video on http://francorchamps5.skynetblogs.be/archive/2009/10/03/1000km-spa-1986-une-bataille-royale.html
History being capricious, it’s ages since we’ve seen anything like it apart from a “proto” competition.
For this 2012 edition of the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday May 5, let’s be very daring and dream of a victory (let’s be completely chauvinistic here) or at least to have the Belgian colours on the podium.
With two Audi R18 e-tron Quattros and two Audi R18 Ultras, the Ingolstadt maker doesn’t seem to have had any worries. Apart from the fact that in a six hour competition , it lived through a lot of ups and downs. A little return look at the video of the 2011 edition will show you the proof.
So, Belgium can count on a certain Bertrand Baguette and his Oak Pescarolo – Judd. Bertrand, at home in Francorchamps, and beyond, has the sort of winning feeling that can move mountains. His victories in a Renault 3.5, were achieved with absolute panache and class. A year ago, in the American holy-of-holies, he led the cavalry on the occasion of the Indianapolis 500 Miles four laps from the end. He knows how to flirt with performance. So good people of Belgium, you can dream!
So, there you have a good reason not to miss on any account the May 5 show and the WEC 2012 edition of the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. On top of that , if you look at the list of those taking part you’ll discover a royal feast!