JD Classics takes overall victory at the Spa Six Hours

News

JD Classics took two victories at Spa Francorchamps this weekend, including overall victory in the headline Spa Six Hours race
The team’s Ford GT40 won the Six Hours, while the Costin Lister took victory in the Stirling Moss/Woodcote Trophy race
JD Classics was also supporting two customer entries; an Austin Mini Cooper S a Jaguar XK120 ‘Ecurie Ecosse’
Racing success at Spa Francorchamps follows JD Classics victory and two second-place finishes at Goodwood Revival the previous weekend

JD Classics’ Historic Racing Department beat more than 110 of Europe’s best classic racing cars at the legendary Spa Six Hours this weekend to take overall victory. The team’s Ford GT40, driven by Chris Ward and Andrew Smith, won the title event while JD Classics’ Costin Lister also took victory in the combined Stirling Moss/ Woodcote Trophy race.

The weekend of classic motorsport is named for the gruelling endurance race – this year celebrating its 25th anniversary – which kicked off with a 90-minute qualifying session on Friday evening. Competed by a pre-1965 grid of 115 TVRs, Shelbys, Mustangs, E-Types, GT40s and more, it’s one of the most competitive races on the classic motorsport calendar.

JD Classics’ own Chris Ward took the wheel first, quickly setting a time good enough for pole position within the first two flying laps. With traffic making it hard to set a clean lap, Ward came into the pits on lap four to check the car over and hand the drive to Andrew Smith. Despite returning to the track in fifth position, Smith was able to set another flying lap to push the JD Classics car back to second place before a red-flag halted the session.

Ten minutes later, the cars were back on track, now with Chris Ward at the wheel of the JD Classics GT40. Ward continued to chase pole but was hampered by traffic until the session was red-flagged again with 14 minutes remaining. The JD Classics car finished the session in second, between the GT40s of pole-sitters George Nolte, Franck Stippler and Michael Funke, and third-placed Richard Meaden and Martin O’Connell.

Chris Ward took the first stint of the race and emerged from the chaos of Lap 1, having slipped to third at one point, to chase down the leading Ford GT40. By Lap 8 Ward had closed the gap to just 1.8 seconds and he continued to push until he was able to pass the leading car on Lap 12. The racing was still tight, though, with the gap over the next nine laps never more than five seconds, before any gap Ward had created was wiped out by the safety car on Lap 22. Following five laps under the safety car, Ward maintained the lead until the team’s first driver change on Lap 36, with Andrew Smith now stepping behind the wheel.

Smith rejoined the race in ninth place, and was able to slowly make his way up to second, but needed to make up more than a lap to the lead GT40, driven by Georg Nolte. On Lap 73, the lead GT40 came in for its final stop, allowing Smith to reclaim first place but with another stop to make. On the next lap the safety car came out once more, allowing JD Classics the perfect opportunity to make their last stop and driver change, with Chris Ward rejoining the race still in the lead. Ward held on to take JD Classics’ first ever victory at the Spa Six Hours.

JD Classics’ second race win of the weekend came in the combined Stirling Moss/ Woodcote Trophy, where more than 70 cars were competing, including the JD Classics Costin Lister. Chris Ward was once again at the wheel for qualifying, setting a lap time good enough for second-place on his first flying lap. An electrical issue meant an early end to the session for the Costin, but Ward’s time was good enough to secure second, just behind the Lister Knobbly of Jon Minshaw.

The JD Classics Historic Department worked hard to rectify the Costin Lister’s electrical issue before it lined up for the race on Saturday afternoon. As the flag fell, Chris Ward got off the line quickly and managed to take first place by the end of lap one, already a second ahead of the chasing Lister Knobbly. Ward continued to hold the gap until the second-placed car was forced to retire, leaving the Jaguar Tojeiro of James Cottingham and Max Girado to take up the chase, around 38 seconds behind.

With the generous gap, Ward pulled into the pits for the mandatory stop on Lap 12 and rejoined the race in second, behind the Tojeiro, but was in the lead by Lap 14 as the first-placed car pitted. Ward continued to pull away from the Lotus 15 now in second, to take victory by almost a minute.

In the pre-1966 Masters Touring Car race, the JD Classics customer-supported Austin Mini Cooper S was driven by Nick Riley and Ben Short. A distributor problem cut qualifying short and persisted throughout the race, seeing the Cooper S finish 33rd.

JD Classics founder, Derek Hood, said: “Spa Francorchamps is known as one of the most challenging tracks in the world, and with a grid of 115 historic cars racing into the night during the Six Hours, things only gets harder. Winning this, and the Stirling Moss/ Woodcote Trophy race, is such a huge achievement for the team, and the perfect follow-up to JD Classics Historic Racing Department’s victory and two podium finishes at Goodwood Revival last weekend.”

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