It was a dominating display from Kris Princen and Bram Eelbode at the TAC Rally – the third round of the Jobfixers Belgian Rally Championship.
Sporting the latest evolution of the Skoda engine, he was untouchable for much of the rally, taking the first 12 stages, leaving Vincent Verschueren/Veronique Hostens to take the final two stages on their way to second place.
This is the 45 edition of the TAC Rally, run on the narrow faming roads of Tielt. The weather was considerably warmer than for the first two rallies of the year – and the spectators also enjoyed a sunny day.
Princen was supreme though throughout, not putting a foot wrong.
“Everything goes very well…we keep up a good rhythm and did not take any risks,” Princen said
“The car is very good. We have the experience of last year with the car. We have a small evolution with the engine – not a big step but everything helps!
Here I am very surprise that until [stage 12] we took all the fastest times.”
There were are few changes for this rally with Sébastien Bedoret/Thomas Walbrecq swapping from a Peugeot 208 T16 R5 to the Skoda Fabia R5.
The change paid dividends for Bedoret who took a comfortable third place.
“It was very good for us. The first time with the Skoda – it was a very good car,” Bedoret said.
“First time out out in the Skoda it was very good for us!”
Veteran Paul Lietaer with Bruno Vienne found the very car he won the National Belgian Title in 1987. He spent a while restoring the Opel Mantra 400 back to its former glory and he brought it out on the TAC Rally to go for the Historic Championship 30 years after his title run.
The first time back out seemed to go well for him too, taking the historic win by almost three minutes from Dirk Vermeirsch/Jurgen Haerinick’s Ford Sierra.
“It is 30 years in the past so we have to learn something new in the car…we have some things to change in the car and we have made a good choice in the car!” Lietaer said
“This is the first rally in the car and we have gone quite well. We have some things, like the ratios are too short, to change in the car that we can’t do here but it went well.”
The RGT section was marred with a few big moments, probably the biggest was from Patrick Snijers whose codriver Luc Bourchat was struck down with an illness during the rally.
This resulted in only intermittent ability for Bourchat to deliver notes to Snijers meaning the Porsche pilot was driving blind for much of the rally.
While Snijers was being careful a ‘do not cut’ warning was never issued and the Porsche hit something submerged on the inside of a corner, ripping off the front left wheel. Fortunately he and Bourchat were ok and will be out at the next rally.
There was also a late crash – on the final stage for Laurent Vanneste and Claudie Tanghe who lost traction on a straight and careered straight into an electrical pole. Again all were fine with just the front of the Porsche looking a little second hand.
This left Gunther Monnens/ Chris Debyser to take the win from Tom van Parijs/ Kurt Heyndrickx and Johan Dekens/Bert Truyens/
“The first stages we had to regulate the suspension a little bit and from then on the times go better and better,” Monnens said.
“We are just driving and trying to stay in the lead. It has worked pretty well.”
In the Junior category, it was an easy win for Gilles Pyck/Emilie Mourisse in the Peugeot 208 R2. They took the win by almost five minutes from Thibaud Mazuin/Kevin Fernandez.
The task was made easier by problems for the other competitors including the Opel of Gregoire Munster/Antoine Podgorny getting stuck in a ditch and a roll for Niels Reynvoet/Willem Verbeke.
After two wins and a second place for Princen, he will not enter that rally (only the bext six count) and Verschueren will have a chance to get his own back on the Rally de Wallonie, next time out at the end of the month.
The RacerViews info
By Sam Tickell, April 2018
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