Since the circuit has announced some major changes to certain sections of the track last year, there has been much speculation about whether this means we can say goodbye to the Circuit Spa Francorchamps we all love so much. Luckily, the changes are much less severe than we thought they would be!
| As it was the first Track Day of the year, the GR Yaris got a quick alignment check!
Last Friday (18/03/2022), Leyla, Dennis and myself took to a trip to Spa to see how it all turned out. We could not have asked for a better day! While it was still pretty cold in the morning, the sun quickly did what it does best and showed us that Spring was right around the corner.
| A cold but sunny morning in the Eifel
After Leyla and I had a meeting at the Circuit Offices to discuss how we can finally manage to bring GP Days to Spa Francorchamps in the future (unfortunately we cannot disclose anything about the talks yet), I took Leyla for a couple of sighting laps as it would be her first time ever to experience the circuit! As we missed the official sighting laps by the organiser in the morning, we took it slow to examine how the changes affected the layout of the track.
While Leyla enjoyed her first laps around Spa, her stomach was not quite up to the job so she was pretty happy when the chequered flag came out to mark the lunch break after we spent around 20 minutes on track. While the lunch buffet at Spa is not the cheapest, it's pretty good in comparison to other race tracks and on warm days, the terrace is the perfect spot to relax before the afternoon session.
As Dennis also joined us for the day, it was his turn on the passenger seat in the afternoon. We had some great and fast laps although the traffic on track did not permit any fast laps to truly compare the current setup of our GR Yaris to the lap we did in 2021 when the car was still stock.
Let's get to the most important part though: How does the track feel?
I would say not really different to how we all know and love it! There are some sections of the new tarmac at Eau Rouge / Raidillon as well as between Bruxelles and Speakers Corner. Despite the tarmac being new, grip levels felt really good - dare I say even better than the old one? At Speakers Corner you will now also find a dedicated motorcycle variant that offers more run-off which is closed off during car Track Days and races.
In light of more and more motorcycle races at the Circuit Spa Francorchamps this year and in the future, the biggest changes came in the form of new and pretty old-school gravel run-off areas. In some spots such as at the exit of the 1st corner ("La Source") and "Speakers Corner", the gravel is very close to the track which leaves no room for error anymore. It can also mean that you will collect some nasty stone chips in case another car runs a bit wide in front of you. So definitely take it slow during the first laps of your next Track Day to assess the new track limits!
While the tack layout seemingly stayed identical and most importantly, the trajectory of Eau Rouge / Raidillon remains untouched, the extended run-off areas make the track feel significantly wider in parts. Personally, I do not feel like this is a major downer, however, it takes away a bit of the vibe.
Especially the downhill straight leading up to Eau Rouge / Raidllon has now a big patch of "grass" on the left whereas in the past, you would barrel down a straight with the Armco being very close on the left and right leading to an exhilarating sense of speed!
As the works are still in progress in some parts of the circuit, we will maybe see some slight changes to the look and feel of Spa. We will keep you updated on this! In the end, it was a great day and definitely not the last Track Day we did this year at Spa Francorchamps!
P.S.: Check out the blog of Circuit Spa Francorchamps for some additional pictures of the changes!
| Saving tyres at the now "kerbless" Speakers Corner (by http://www.ollivision.com)
| (by http://www.ollivision.com)