‘We’re planning a drive through Belgium soon. Some nice roads and cool cars. You in?’ That’s the message that greeted me when I looked at my WhatsApp a few weeks ago. I immediately said yes. I mean, what’s not to like about the idea of hitting up some nice backroads with your petrolhead friends? Cue last Saturday. I forced myself to get up way too early, grabbed my camera and jumped in my car to head to where I would meet the others.
A short while later saw me sitting at a rest stop on Germany’s Autobahn A44, not very far from the Belgium border. One by one the rest of our group pulled in and soon we were ready to head out.
First to arrive was Felix in his white 944. Next up, Seb arrived in his silver 924S. Then Alex and Luca rolled in with their red and brown 944s. They were shortly followed by Tristan in his white 924. And then there was me, with my 944S. Six transaxle Porsches and their drivers, hungry for corners. Those corners would have to wait a bit though, as the first leg of our trip would be on the Autobahn and the Belgian motorways to get to Lac de la Gileppe in Belgium where we would meet up with some others.
When we arrived at the Lac de la Gileppe parking area we were greeted by the sight of a red MGB GT and a silver Porsche 365 owned by Robin and his father Bruno. They had spent some time preparing a route for us that would take us all around the High Fens (or the ‘Hautes Fagnes’ as it’s known in Belgium), the highest region of the Ardennes.
Our first stop immediately after we set out from Lac de la Gileppe was the tiny petrol station in Jalhay. Our two Belgian friends were smart enough to have topped up their tanks before, but some of our Porsches were in need of a refill. The scene looked like a pack of hyenas descending on a carcass; a true transaxle takeover of the petrol station.
After we had sated our cars appetites, our first real destination was the gates of Spa-Francorchamps, right next to the tracks final corner, La Source. Spa is one of my favorite racetracks, so any reason to go there is always cool in my book. Sadly the circuit was closed to the public, but we could hear some cars running the track. After a short stop, we headed around to the opposite end of the track and parked our cars just outside the fence. From here we could actually see what was going on – some kind of Porsche track day with a lot of modern day 911s powering around the circuit. After watching the 911s go round for a bit we continued our journey.
The next planned stop was at Le Herou, a impressive rock formation in a forest to the south-west of Spa. This was also one of the most fun stretches of our trip. There are a lot of twisty corners in Belgium, just perfect for our cars. The MGB led our little procession, with all of the transaxles in behind like ducklings following their mother duck. The 356 brought up the rear.
The roads were largely empty and so we could enjoy some spirited driving and hunting for lines in the corners. I for one was surprised by how quick the little MGB GT was – I did not expect that. From a certain point of view you can almost call the MGB GT a spiritual ancestor of the Porsche 924 and 944 – a practical sports car that could be used as a daily driver if one wanted. As we were zipping around corners, I could not wipe the grin off my face; this is what my 944S was made for. With the 2.5L 16-valve engine screaming, the car practically begged me to push it harder and harder around the corners. I’ve owned the car for just over a year now and every time I drive it I’m surprised by how capable a 30-plus-year-old car can be.
As we arrived at Le Herou we parked up alongside the road and had a lunch break. 944 spoilers make for good picnic tables, let me tell you.
After we had recharged our own batteries for a bit, it was time to hit the road once again. Our next destination was another petrol station; after we had lunch ourselves, we figured our cars wouldn’t mind some lunch either. We set out eastwards from Le Herou and crossed the border into Luxembourg. We filled up in Hachiville, a positively tiny town just across the border. After we had topped off our tanks on cheap Luxembourgian fuel, we turned around and continued our route in Belgium. We now took the scenic route back in the direction of Malmedy.
We stopped for another short break after some intense apex hunting at the viewpoint ‘Zum Buren’. Luca’s 944 kind of got lost in the woods here; it clearly wants to be a rally car with it’s auxiliary lights and mud flaps. After taking in the scenic views, it was time for the last leg of the journey.
We hopped back in the cars and went back towards Spa – the old banked Stavelot corner, to be precise. As there was nearly no traffic on the road, we used the chance to stage a starting grid for some photos. It really was something else to take some photos in such a historically relevant place – at least if you’re a motorsports enthusiast. I wish I could’ve seen the cars fly through here back in the day. It’s fascinating to me that nearly all of the old racetrack is still used as a public road today.
In the end, we had driven about 300 kilometers on some very curvy and fun-to-attack roads. None of our cars had any problems, which is something when you consider that the youngest of the lot are 33 years old. The day was filled with lots of smiles per mile, and it was great to get out and explore our neighbouring country a bit. Definitely a welcome change from the current situation due to COVID-19. It felt great to let our cars stretch their legs again, and I can’t wait for the next chance to get out and enjoy some curvy backroads with the whole gang once again.
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