Half a century later, Ferrari is back playing leading roles at Spa

Half a century later, Ferrari is back playing leading roles at Spa

It is not only at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that Ferrari officially returns to the premier class of sports models after an absence of 50 years. This is also the case at Spa-Francorchamps. Seniors inevitably remember the 312PB’s feats of speed on the old 14,100km course during the 1,000km of Francorchamps. The last appearance of directly entered prototypes by Cavallino dates back to 1973 when 312PB trays were commissioned in succession to Jackie Ickx-Brian Redman and Carlos Pace-Arturo Merzario across swords with a Matra fleet commanded by some Henri Pescarolo.

This year was the year of all superlatives in which all speed records were broken. In practice, Jackie completed a lap at an insane speed of 263 km / h! But it is Pescarolo who remains in the records with the best lap of the race signed with an accuracy of 262.461 km / h, at 3 minutes 14 seconds.

Fast but fragile

During the start, Pesca’s Matra and Chris Amon’s Rydlon swallowed the lead, and Ickx was soon getting rid of the New Zealander (who would then break his engine) before capitalizing on the misfortunes of the bearded Frenchman, victim of several broken tyres, to take the lead. But after being betrayed by his gearbox, Jacky will have to abandon the Club House, leaving the victory to Mirage-Gulf and the Derek Bell-Howden Ganley-Mike Hailwood trio. The other Ferrari, a Merzario-Pace, would finish fourth after completing the race in three speeds.

Half a century later, Red Magic is still running at the pinnacle of stamina, as evidenced by the many tifosi already around the ring. In the Ferrari AF Corse, which enters the two 499Ps whose color recalls the famous 312PB, we know that we also have an appointment with a glorious past in the Ardennes. “We have pressure, but what a lot of pressure!” , exclaims Patty Brigliasco, team manager. “Spas-Francorchamps means a lot to us and our drivers. Everyone loves to come here. Spa-Francorchamps is Belgium. Without this place, the country would lose an important part of its charm and heritage”.

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Fifty-one years ago, Brian Redman and Arturo Merzario showed Ferrari’s victory at the 1000 km of Spa-Francorchamps in 1972. If we refuse to believe it among the reds, seeing a crimson crew atop the podium is nothing short of impossible. We are in a spa, after all…

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