After a few months during which our collective motoring fix has largely come from essential trips to the supermarket, the gentle easing of the coronavirus-induced lockdown has us imagining a time when life returns to normal (as opposed to ‘the new normal’ we keep hearing about).
That’s still some way off, but the gradual return of some driving freedom means we can start to dream and plan out some road trips for the future.
So these are our ultimate post-lockdown road trip suggestions – along with a slightly more achievable British equivalent. Want to suggest yours? If so, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spa-Francorchamps for a 24-hour endurance race – Tom Morgan
After missing out on so much motorsport, there’s only one remedy once restrictions get lifted: full immersion with a 24-hour race, and the holy trinity of European endurance events are all within driving distance. Of the three, Spa gets my vote. It’s less intense than the Nürburgring, which is as much a techno rave in the woods as a motor race, and has fielded GT cars exclusively for almost 20 years. It makes for a closer-run and easier-to-follow race than Le Mans and its prototype classes. Spa’s notoriously changeable weather often makes for exciting racing and track access is the best of the three. There’s nothing like watching Ferrari, Aston Martin and Lamborghini flying up Eau Rouge in person.
We should arrive at a GT race in a GT car, so I’ll take a Bentley Continental GT W12 for effortless long-distance cruising in comfort. Getting there from the UK begins uneventfully, with the M20 giving way to the Eurotunnel. On the French side, I’d head north via Dunkirk. Follow the coast across the border and onto the E40, which loops around Brussels, then sidestep Liège on the E42 and through picturesque Verviers before those final few country miles to the circuit. Camp if you can, and if you have to get some sleep, make sure to wake before dawn to watch the darkness give way to a misty morning before the sun rises.
When it’s time to come home, if you fancy a high-speed detour, the derestricted E40 Aachen-to-Cologne autobahn is less than an hour’s drive away.