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What is Zolder?

In 1959, Auto-Moto-Club Bolderberg in Belgium came up with the idea to build a circuit where its members could practice their hobby. In 1960, this idea materialised in a small 2.7KM circuit. Very soon, it became clear that this circuit was too small for national and international competition. A permanent and larger circuit was required. On 14 July 1963, the 4.3KM circuit was officially inaugurated. After the works in 1994, the length was reduced to 4.1KM.

Although not the largest, Circuit Zolder surely is one of the safest circuits of the world. Moreover, the track has been built in such a way that the drivers can demonstrate their true capacities. Since the circuit constitutes a closed complex, timings, races or other events can be organised without obstructing the circulation on the public road.

Besides many Formula 1 races in the past and other internationally famous races such as the European Historic Grand Prix and the Truck Super Prix, Circuit Zolder hosts many national and regional competitions such as the New Race Festival, the 24 Hours of Zolder, the Belgian Masters and the Race Promotion Night as well.

Zolder also opens it's doors to non-competition license holders on certain days (Nurburgring style) if they have completed the 'circuit experience' course.

On Sept 1st, Eran Motorsport held such a course and in the end four Saabs turned up to complete the course.

I brought my lightly modified 1990 900 Aero T16S (No cat, once silencer 3'' JT Sports Exhaust, Saab redbox APC for non-cat T16, JR Freeflow airfilter, Forge atmospheric dumpvalve, silicon hosed, Abbott-Brembo grey-iron crossdrilled/grooved motorsport discs all round, mintex 1144 pads all round, AP DOT 5.1 brake fluid, Koni Adjustable dampers, Abbott Motorsport Springs and Toyo T1-S Proxies on 16'' Aero wheels.) Onno brought his 900 Turbo 16, Maarten brought his 280hp TD-04 turbo'd Hirsch 2.0T GM900 and Kenny his Maptun stage 1 tuned 9-3.

The purpose of the course is to teach the line and layout of Zolder, so the 'theory' bit of the lessons was just about the flags and courteous driving. Most of the training was hands-on. The next stage was with an instructor as he appraised your driving giving helpful pointers to improve and then the final stage was behind a pace car, where ever round he would increase the pace.

And then the fun part.. free session driving.

As the morning progressed, more and more cars turned up. We were sharing the circuit with BMW cup racing cars, single seaters, coupes, saloon sports cars, hot hatches etc. The good news is that Zolder particularly favours our front wheel drive turbo cars. So the speed differential wasn't actually that big a problem as it can be on other circuits.

Pretty soon we were picking off Honda CRX racing cars, Subaru Impreza turbos, all the hot hatches (he he he) and even giving the BMW racing cars (driven by pro racing drivers) a run for their money.

None of the Saabs suffered from mechanical maladies, even although the circuit is very very hard on brakes. I felt that my brakes were as fresh at the end of the day as they were at the start (same as they were at the Saabscene TD04 trackday in Anglesey, Wales, this year).. so I think it's been money well spent at Abbott for the chassis and braking stuff!

As usual, the food in Belgium was great, it was great to spend time with other Saabistas.. and a thouroughly entertaining time was had by all.

In sum up : Great people + great circuit + great weather + great food + great cars = great time.
 
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