GRR Garage: A road trip to Spa Francorchamps in our Ford Fiesta ST
It was just after 6am when the entire Road & Racing team met at Goodwood for a what promised to be a weekend of superb classic racing. The destination? Spa Francorchamps.
Spa was playing host to the Spa Classic, an event where some truly glorious race cars, ranging from the more modern Saleen S7 R and Aston Martin DBR9 to a low drag Lightweight Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo 1300 GT, compete for glory.
But first, between us and the Ardennes, lay a few hundred miles of motoring in our Fiesta ST. What becomes obvious very quickly is how comfortable for the ST is at speed. Not just comfortable in terms of ride quality, but comfortable in terms of speed. Even though the highway speed limit in France of 130km/h (80.7mph) is only slightly higher than it is here in the UK, some cars can feel a little uncomfortable. Not the ST.
Before long were had crossed the border into Belgium, and soon after we made it to our scheduled stop just outside of Brussels. It what seemed like no time at all we made it to our final destination, a hotel in the quaint, quiet town of Spa. The ST looked as though it had been driven through an insect sanctuary.
The little ST, it’s first job done, then found peace in the hotel’s underground car park, it’s transportation duties now taken by a big, black Ford Galaxy. So why bring the ST? Well because once the weekend’s racing at Spa was over it was time for us to explore the old Spa circuit.
Where the current circuit is a mere 6.9km long, the old Spa, used from 1939-1979 and incorporating local roads, measured 14.1km; Jackie Stewart once described one section, the Masta Kink, as “by far the most difficult corner in the world”.
Of course, our trip round the old circuit was done at very normal road speeds, but you can’t help but stop and marvel at the challenge the track would have presented drivers, surrounded by trees, steep drops and, originally, no barriers.
After a quick stop at the Friterie de Masta, a regular haunt for visitors to Spa, we reconvened at the hotel and began what turned out to be quite a frantic return journey.
The ST isn’t the biggest hot hatch nor is it the fastest, but it’s comfortable, quiet and relaxing when you need it to be and fast, engaging and hugely enjoyable when you want to drive a little quicker. It was our perfect road trip companion.