With his teammate Ian Martin and his Honda RC 30 Team Bike, Stéphane Mertens was a favorite at the start of the 4 Hours of Spa Classic, unique round of the European Classic Series 2018.
Taking advantage of the new technical regulations and aboard a machine that has served him rather well in the past, the Brussels rider was hoping to once again live the joys of victory at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Yet it is another Mertens who put his name at the top of the hierarchy, and this from the qualifying practice on. Also on a Honda RC 30 in the EVO class (from the prestigious Dholda team), Gian Mertens, who partnered up with Yves Bollaerts, was in pole position with an impressive time of 2.40: 136 ... For his part, Stéphane achieved an honorable 2. 42:541 (second absolute time), but the combined results relegated him to seventh place on the grid, just behind the Neate Racing team and in front of the Hampe Racing Team / Club 14 of Christian Haquin and Nicolas De Dieuleveult. In the front, Edge RST Racing team (Nick Edgeley - Jonny Towers), Kaiser Classic Endurance (Manfred Kaiser - Oliver Škách), Roadrunner (Henk Van der Mark - Dirk Brand) and Beringer Switzerland (Martin Huber - Roland Kobe) completed the first lines .
For its 12th edition and for the first time in its history, the 4 Hours of Spa were held in two separate rounds, the first one in the evening (Saturday night), the second one the next afternoon. The first was largely dominated by the Neate family on their Honda Magnum (Maxi Classic category). Already winners of the 4 Hours of Spa 2017, John and Sam Neate took command of the operations in the second lap and did not let it go but for a few laps to the advantage of the Dholda Racing team of Gian Mertens and Yves Bollaerts, soon to be victims of engine problems that led them back to an eighth place, behind the Suzuki Phase One by Peter Linden - Hugh Brasher and ahead of another Suzuki, the GSX-R 750 from Guy Martin and Peter Boast, penalized by a minute due to having overtaken under Safety Car. Troubles also (and abandonment) for team Edge, pointed among the favorites after convincing tests.
Behind the Neate family team, the second place went to the Dutch Roadrunner Team (Henk Van Der Mark - Dirk Brand on their Suzuki GSX 1100) in front of the Swiss team Beringer (Martin Huber - Roland Kobe). Fourth overall were Stéphane Mertens and Ian Martin who climbed onto the third step of the podium in the Legend category.
A performance they expected to reiterate the next afternoon. Alas ... "We were well off again for the second round of two hours, fighting again for second place,"says the great Belgian champion. "Unfortunately we had an engine problem and had to give up."They were joined prematurely by several other teams, and not the least : the HAMP Racing Team / Club 14 (fifth in the first round), the Roadrunner Team and Phase One .
Starting from eighth place on the starting grid, Gian Mertens and Yves Bollaerts were soon to settle in the lead where they would stay until the finish, where they finally beat Kaiser Classic Endurance Team (Kawasaki Bakker BK1), Beringer Switzerland (Honda VFR) and Neate Racing, victim of engine problems 20 minutes from the end of the race and forced to return to the pits twice.
In the combined standings of the two races, the victory goes to Team Dholda (1st in Legend) before Beringer Switzerland (1st in Classic). Followed by Kaiser Classic Endurance Team, Neate Racing, DB Endurance (2nd in Classic) and Classic Suzuki.
This first edition of the 4 Hours of Spa Classic version 2.0 has indeed met all expectations, be it from the spectators (two departures, two arrivals ...) or from the riders (with the possibility of repairs if necessary between rounds). As for the new technical regulation, we can say that it has proven itself since in the final top 5, we point three Maxi Classic and two Evo machines, "proof that cohabitation is possible", concludes the organization. All results and rankings at :