Spa track days: expert advice, circuit, history and how to book the evo 2022 event
The spa has it all. The magnificent Belgian circuit offers one of the most thrilling driving experiences on the planet, enhanced by the echoes of 100 years of motorsport history whispering through its pine trees. It’s no wonder British drivers make the pilgrimage to Spa-Francorchamps in large numbers every year, whether for the big race weekends of the Belgian Grand Prix or the 24 Hours of Spa, or to spend their -even one of motorsport’s greatest tests on a Thermal Track Day.
It’s the latter option that we’re looking at here, not least because the 2022 evo Trackdays season now includes a very special trip to Spa. We’re joining one of RSR’s Premium Trackdays on October 18, so before you book your placeit probably makes sense to get some expert advice on how to get the most out of a track day at Spa.
Spa Track Day Tips: Ron Simons, Owner, RSR Trackdays
RSR has been running events at Spa and the Nürburgring for over 20 years, ever since owner Ron Simons started traveling from his native South Holland to the Ring in one of his Alfa Romeo 75s and began offering rentals and track lessons. These days, his company has become one of the main promoters of the track day scene, with bases in Spa, the Ring and elsewhere, an impressive fleet of rental vehicles and a clientele from all over the world. Ron and RSR’s Director of Operations, Jonathan Chan, are therefore ideally placed to give anyone new to track days some advice on how to look after your car, your own well-being and your wallet.
Let’s start with you, the driver. “If you’re coming to Spa for the first time,” says Jonathan, “one of the best things you can do is have an instructor by your side. You can be sure of what you are doing on the track and the traffic around you. RSR provides instructors for half or full days.
“The biggest problem we see is guys driving outside the limits of the car, the track and themselves – so if you’re hiring we can help you choose a level of car in which you are confident.” The main kit you need is a hard hat. You don’t need a racing suit unless you really want to wear one.
“And don’t drink too much the night before,” Ron quips. “Track days are generally pretty civilized,” says Jonathan. “It’s not a race, there’s nothing to win. If you’re slower [than the car behind]just raise the gas a bit [to let them past]. But don’t press the brakes, it’s even worse!
Obviously, car preparation is vital, but sometimes it gets overlooked. “Some guys, especially those from the UK, come in with worn brakes and tyres,” notes Jonathan. “They will be here for two to three days, but on the first day at lunchtime they will need brake pads and then there will be a panic to get them up – usually at a high price on Sundays. So have your car checked before you come, not six months in advance. Make sure everything is tight underneath, no oil or fluid oozing out, nothing like a split driveshaft boot. Make sure the oil is filled. Everything that needs to be sorted here is a waste of time on the trail, so even throwing away a 50% worn tire will save you money in the long run. If you are spending two days here, bring a second set of tires or arrange to have them here while waiting to be fitted. After all, if it starts to rain, you’ll also want to get home safely!
Ron agrees, adding: “Fresh your brake fluid and make sure the pads are a certain thickness. There is a lot of brake wear on a circuit, but Spa is not a high brake wear track like Zolder or Monza. On the Nordschleife you don’t need a lot of brakes at all and you don’t have much tire wear either as it is a natural flowing track with low grip tarmac.
As for car choice, Jonathan has this advice: “When someone asks me what the perfect car is for a track day, I tend to mention something like a Porsche Cayman. You want something fairly light so it’s easier on the tires and brakes.
“The best car is so personal,” adds Ron, “and is very different from the Ring to Spa. At the Ring you don’t need a fast car, the track is so fast down the hill everything will roll easily at 120 mph, so you can get yourself into a lot of trouble So the best value is a Clio or a Megane RS, or an M2 or a Cayman, but even those [latter two] are already very fast for a beginner. In Spa you can learn the track in two hours, what equipment to use, then you can push a bit, and the track is very forgiving so you can make a mistake and go slower, unlike the Ring where you need to replace the guardrail afterwards. So at Spa anyone can drive a GT3 – you can’t use it to its full potential, but if that’s what you want to do, you can [hire one from us and] do it. We have everything from a Twingo RS to an LMP car.
Most of the RSR fleet is fitted with road tires to make them more forgiving for beginners. Their BMW M2s, for example, use Michelin Super Sports and standard discs, but with an endurance brake pad that extends life but doesn’t generate the kind of heat that can easily warp a disc. However, adds Jonathan, “You can’t drive an M2 like a Porsche Cup. You must drive level with the car, not above it. This is good advice for anyone who takes their own road car.
RSR gets around 250 miles per set of tires on one of their rental Megane RSs, with brake pads lasting 500-600 miles. A disc change is performed after the third pad change. With the 911 GT3s, the tires last about the same, with pads only doing 400-500 miles. Typically, the company estimates their costs to be £2-3 per track day mile for one of the Renaults, from there. They will inspect the car before every ride, which means some cars are checked almost daily. And while they follow the manufacturers oil change schedule, they check and change brake fluid regularly.
Join evo at the Spa
The evo trackday calendar has exploded in recent years, with brilliant British circuits such as Goodwood, Brands Hatch and Oulton Park joining our ‘home’ Bedford Autodrome site. But now we’re taking it to another level for what promises to be our most exciting track event yet: the evo Spa‑Francorchamps track day!
Organized in association with RSR, we will be joining one of their Premium Trackdays on October 18 on arguably the most beautiful circuit in the world. This gives you full access to everything RSR has to offer, plus a Eurotunnel crossing, one night’s accommodation and dinner with evo the day before the event.
The Spa-Francorchamps circuit needs no introduction. The current home of F1, it has managed to maintain the challenge, atmosphere and aesthetics worthy of its statesmanship in the world of motorsport, and so is unlike any other track in the world. It offers raw speed, technical cornering and, of course, the test of courage and car control that is Eau Rouge. Need we say more?
RSR Spa’s Premium Trackday Package includes a full safety briefing and single track ride. Attendance numbers are below average and an open pit lane means you can drive when, and as little or often, as you like. The noise limit is 103 dB. RSR also offers an extensive rental fleet including Renault Sport, BMW and Porsche cars, some modified more for track work, and even options with manual controls for disabled drivers. Instructors are also available when pre-booked, and additional driver and passenger seating can be purchased.
Add to that a good road trip with the Spa-Francorchamps circuit as your destination and it promises to be an unforgettable experience. Register your interest now at evotrackdays.com.
History of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit
Spa’s motorsport history began after the First World War when a project to revive motor racing La Meuse Cup needed a course and the triangle formed by public roads linking Spa-Francorchamps, Malmedy and Stavelot seemed the ideal place. In the early 1920s the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium began organizing the first organized Belgian Grand Prix, an endurance race, on the circuit and in 1924 the first edition of the 24-hour race was held. The track got a timing booth, a scoreboard, and in 1928 the dirt roads got their first tarmac to keep pebbles from flying.
The world-famous corner we now know as Eau Rouge was created in 1939 and the Spa circuit has continued to evolve over the years with layout changes and safety improvements, transforming it into the shorter track than we know today. It was not until 2003 that the circuit’s roads were closed to traffic from March to October and they were completely closed soon after, making Spa a permanent motorsport venue.
Learn more about evo Trackdays and book your place here…