July was a busy month for Belgian classic motorsport. After the Spa Summer Classic, the Zolder Historic Grand Prix was already on the programme two weeks later.
We had reported it last year that a new momentum was blowing time the previous edition with the addition of some German matches. Not read it? You can find all about it here. The cooperation between Circuit Zolder and the German organiser with the “Kampf der Zwerge” and the “Youngtimer Trophy” was definitely an added value.
And this year it went even further: the German organiser of both series had even taken over the entire meeting with, on top of that, an additional top series with the recently started “Tourenwagen Golden Ara”. This offers those an alternative to the defunct DTM Classic. After the takeover by the ADAC of the DTM championship, there appeared to be no more room the classic participants. Fortunately, this new organisation emerged to accommodate all the old-timers.
Besides all the racing, there was also a birthday to celebrate with the 60th anniversary of Circuit Zolder. Indeed, it was in 1963 that laps were turned at the Limburg circuit for the first time.
TOURING CAR GOLDEN ARA
The top event of the weekend was undoubtedly the new “Tourenwagen Golden Ara”. Now we can’t really call them new though as the organisation is done by the team of the former “Tourenwagen Classics” which was taken over by the DTM at the end of 2021.
But preparations did not run smoothly. Our national motorsport federation, the RACB, did not want to give permission for these races a few days before the event. A dispute about “no licence for foreign races from the organisation” was at the root of this. Several teams then decided not to make the trip. Fortunately, the matter was settled before the start of the meeting. The starting field had shrunk considerably, though. This was a bit of an oddity, as the third meeting of the championship had taken place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria.
Fortunately, some participants from the Belcar championship joined their German colleagues so that a somewhat decent grid could still be presented. Of course, these Belcar cars had to comply with the regulations and GT Belcar cars were therefore not allowed to participate.
So did the Qvick team’s BMW 320i Bastos/Fina ex Bigazzi. Eric Qvick came, saw and conquered. His BMW reigned supreme with pole position, fastest lap in the race and victory in the first race of the weekend on Saturday.
Markus Reich finished half a minute later with his Audi A4 STW. This made him the first German competitor. Third was Koopejan with his Mercedes 190e Evo 1 ahead of Jan Van Elderen with his Ford Sierra Cosworth RS 500, putting three Belcar competitors in the first four places.
The second race on Sunday counted only a small starting field due to the timing just after the Belcar race. Most of the Belgians were no longer present.
Reich’s Audi won the race without much opposition. Belcar driver Ko Kopejan was there and now drives to P2 ahead of the Opel Kadett C Coupé of Georgios Katsikis.
Occasionally, things did go wrong but fortunately without too much trouble.
CAMPF DER ZWERGE
We had already met these dwarfs last year. Small cars that provide lots of spectacle with a very diverse brand palette: NSU, Fiat, Simca, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Mini Cooper and even a Lada were at the start.
And many of the participants drove around the Zolder circuit more on three and even two wheels.
Although they were the smallest of the meeting, they were still allowed to contest four races. One on Saturday and three on Sunday.
Hans März, with his Simca 1200 S, was winner of the first and third races.
Both other races were won by a Mini Cooper. Number two by Enzo Thiefaan and number four by Gregor Nick.
These “little men” were certainly one of the highlights of the weekend with their four matches and their spectacle on offer, and the audience was able to fully enjoy them.
This organisation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has a calendar where races are mainly held at the Nürburgring. However, there are also outings to three other circuits with Hockenheim, Assen and Zolder. The highlight of the year is the “Classic Rennen” during the weekend of the 24h at the Nürburgring with more than 120 participants.
There were not that many in Zolder but both division 1 and especially division 2 welcomed a lot of participants. Now, a race with 120 cars is not really possible at Zolder. The circuit is not big enough for that.
In the Division 1, we find mostly cars from the 1970s such as the Ford Escort, BMW 2002, Opel Kadett VW Golf or Scirocco, and Renault 5 at the start.
After one one-hour race, we saw that the first six places were all taken by Opel Kadett’s. Sven Fisch was winner ahead of Michael Nolte and Michael Schmitz.
The fast guys in this trophy can be found in division 2 with surely some Porsche 911 RSR, some BMW M3 E36 models , an Opel Ascona 400, a Porsche 964 Cup and a fat BMW 635 CSi driven by ex DTM driver Olaf Manthey ( this one from Manthey Porsche ).
Salewsky’s Porsche 911 RSR dominated the race, arriving at the chequered flag one-and-a-half minutes ahead of an identical RSR of Müller. Manthey finishes with his BMW in third place.
BELCAR HISTORIC CUP
Two weeks after the “Summer Classic” at Spa, the boys and girls of the Belcar were off to Zolder for the third race of the championship. With more than 40 registrants, it once again plateaued nicely.
Qvick Motors’ BMW 320i STW has recovered from its problems at Spa and the competition already knows what time it is with the realisation of pole for the first race. The St Paul Racing team is stranded on P2 with Tim Kuijl’s BMW and P3 with Wim Kuijl’s Ford.
But nobody can make a fist against the fast BMW from Ostend. Kuijl’s BMW tries to hang on for the first few laps but has to watch as the Bastos/Fina BMW creates a gap anyway.
Luc Moortgat, who started in fourth place, first passes Wim Kuijl, who later has to retire, and then Tim Kuijl and will finish in second place after the untouchable BMW of Eric Qvick. Tim Kuijl is flagged third.
At the head of the race it was not really exciting but in the field there were some very nice duels where there was really close racing.
And not only was this the case with the “big boys”, the little ones participated just as valiantly.
This made for a nice spectacle and certainly an enjoyable match
The second race on Sunday is almost a copy of the first. Qvick’s BMW again outclasses everyone and takes another start/finish win. Porsche driver Luc Moortgat finishes on P2 but it is now Luc Brankaerts’ Corvette C4 that comes third.
Next appointment for the Belcar was in Francorchamps during the last weekend of September in the international meeting of the Spa Six Hours. You can find the report of that here.
60 YEARS OF CIRCUIT ZOLDER
Although the organisation had been passed on by Circuit Zolder to its German colleagues, there was still a Belgian contribution with the “Concours d’ Elegance”. Naturally, 60 years of Circuit Zolder was one of the themes. Efforts had been made to show cars from the various decades.
The Belgian Formula One Grand Prix was held ten times at Zolder between 1973 and 1984. Our compatriot Thierry Boutsen drove in the Arrows F1 team from 1983. In 1984, he was a regular pilot in the team with an Arrows BMW in Barclay colours.
But besides F1, Zolder was a circuit that regularly hosted big races and organisations. Formula 2, as a step-up class to F1, was among them for a number of years. This March 802 of Theo Fabi dates from the year 1980 and would also win the class of 60 years of Zolder.
The European Touring Car Championship was also a fixture at Zolder for many years. With the EEC Trophy, it was often the closing event of the championship. This original, just restored, 1985 BMW 635 Csi ex-Schnitzer once participated in this race.
Another 60th anniversary is the Porsche 911, which was also commemorated with a series. We found this still quite original ex Vasek Polak 935 turbo. Jacky Ickx was one of the drivers of this IMSA car at the time.
The Zolder Historic Grand Prix has certainly received a nice boost with the input of the new organiser. Great starting fields, enjoyable races, lots of atmosphere in the paddock and lots of spectators, which is certainly the most important thing. We hope that this new wind keeps blowing and that the Zolder Historic Grand Prix, after a few difficult years, can retain its former status.