Attendants at the FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps this weekend will be among the first few to experience the new Raidillon / Eau Rogue grandstand that officially opened yesterday.
Work on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps began at the end of 2021 as the circuit sought Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme accreditation so bike racing could return. Due to run off areas being too small and certain corners (Speaker’s Corner to name one), the Belgian circuit has not been deemed safe enough for bike racing, with the last world championship race taking part in 1990. There was one final bike race in 2001 – the 24 Heures de Liège as part of the Endurance World Championship – but bikes, which were the first vehicle to race on the renowned 4.352 miles circuit, have not touched the tarmac since.
As part of the renovations to get FIM certification, a new grandstand with the capacity to hold 4,600 spectators has been permanently installed at the top of the Raidillon / Eau Rouge. The new seating area allows views of cars coming out of La Source and the ability to follow them all the way through Raidillon and Eau Rouge before disappearing down the Kemmel Straight. This will be a highly-sought after seat for the Formula One race in August, but this weekend spectators of the WEC event can get a first look of views from the grandstand.
The instalment of the grandstand has, however, seen the iconic white chalet that sat a-top of the corner complex demolished to make way for the new seating area. This will come as a disappointment to some fans.
To the tune of €25 million, the renovations have added 13,000 extra seats as well as increased the safety of the circuit in response to some horror crashes the track has seen in the past (specifically in the Eau Rogue area). The completion of the project comes just in time for the circuit to celebrate its centurion active racing season.
“These works represent, in figures, apart from our own teams, 250 people working over 5 months, over a hundred machines, more than thirty businesses.” CEO of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps Amaury Bertholomé said. “We’re speaking about a lot of work in a very short timeframe: renovation of all the run-offs, new gravel traps, re-surfacing of some parts of the track (after La Source, to the Raidillon and to Speaker’s Corner) and construction of a brand-new grandstand at the top of the Raidillon : 4,600 places, reception areas and a breathtaking view.
“It’s a huge worksite that is opening up at the environmental level. What energies will we have for motorsports in the future? We must respond to our customers’ needs. Our operating permit predates all these developments and must be adjusted to fit. Of course the Circuit will still accept the combustion engine but hydrogen, biofuels and electric must also have their place.
“This may be the case in winter for those not impacted by noise levels such as electric and or bicycles. We must also reduce our carbon footprint. A more global reflection has already begun on the production of our own green energy on our site.”
If you are in attendance at the 6 Hours of Spa this weekend and take a visit to the new grandstand, please share pictures of your view with us on social media (Twitter – @TheCheckerFlag, Instagram @thecheckeredflag).