Driver ColumnsSam Tickell (Editor)

8 things you may have missed from the TAC Rally

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There was a lot going on at the Belgian Rally Championship TAC Rally, here are some things you may have missed…

  1. The theme of the rally was “it is slippery!” The TAC Rally is always a little different but this year, for whatever reason, the tarmac was particularly slippery. Even before the first run, the drivers knew what it would be like but the extent of the lack of grip would emerge in the first loop with a few crashes. The tarmac was shiny with gravel and muck spread across it. Many drivers mentioned that they struggled and some co-drivers mentioned they had to adjust, with Bec van der Marel saying the delivery of her notes was closer to that of a wet rally, not a dry one…
  2. The rally had its fair share of stage winners. It looked like the erstwhile Championship leader, Cedric Cherain would be in with a shout, despite his inexperience at TAC Rally. He won the first stage but crashed, leaving Kris Princen to take five stage wins. Sebastien Bedoret would take two as well. The fight though was between Adrian Fernemont and Vincent Verschueren. Verscheren took SS11 to inch into 3rd by 0.8 sec. With two stages left, the fight would be huge. Fernemont took the win on SS13 to pull just in front. Then on the last stage – SS14, they put in the equal time to take a joint stage win! An incredible fight to put Fernemont on the podium and Verschueren just missed out.
  3. Jump starts also came a minor theme with 7 jump starts in total. For the Subaru of Wostyn, there would be two jump start penalties, his first on SS9, after arriving the time control one minute late – so there was 20 seconds gone. Then SS13, he made the jump start mistake again, for his second offence, a 1 minute penalty.
  4.  There was plenty of cancelled kilometres with SS3 and SS12 being cancelled. SS3 was cancelled because of Cedric Cherain’s heavy crash at a fast part of the stage. His car was partially blocking the stage and due to the danger, the organisers had no other choice. SS12 was cancelled when a farmer misjudged his transition between fields with his tractor. Ghislain de Mevius was the first on stage and encountered the tractor. Kris Princen was next on stage but did not see the tractor but the stage had been paused while the situation was sorted. More than 20 minutes elapsed before a decision was made meaning the cars were cold and too much time had passed so the stage had to be cancelled.
  5. It was a battle between experience and youth at the start of TAC. A rally that favours experience, due to the unique tarmac and the fact that the route stays similar year to year. We have a story with Princen and Fernemont coming, as they are on the opposite side of the coin. Princen has now won the rally four times, Fernemont was there for the first time. In fact, the new players went better than expected. It was Bedoret’s second time in an R5 and he took a comfortable second in his Skoda. Fernemont battled hard to take a podium and de Mevius took a solid fifth. They all mentioned that the TAC was a particularly challenging rally…
  6. Ford dominated the Historic Rally. While they took most of the entries, they also outlasted their competitors to take a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 with a Toyota in 8th. For those keeping count, it was a Sierra 1-2…
  7. After their heartbreaking defeat on Spa Rally, Timo and Bec van der Marel took a commanding win in the RC4 class. They were in a tight battle with Gregoire Munster, with less than a second between the two after SS6. But Munster crashed heavily on SS7, leaving the van der Marels to control the rally and win by 93 seconds over Joachim Wagemans – who incidentally took the Junior win.
  8. Some drivers had breaking problems. Two driver suffered more than others. Kevin Demaerschalk in the Citroen C3 R5 lost time, including a 3 minute penalty for outside assistance. But worse was for van Iersel and Visser-Bos in the Hyundai i20 R5. They knew they had some issue coming to SS1 and made contact with the team. They had a small off in the first corners of the stage but a little further on, breaking for a fast left, the car turned hard right and, well the photos below show what can happen with a braking system failure.
  9.  

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By Sam Tickell

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