Thierry Neuville, Bryan Bouffier, Mikko Hirvonen… and now Kris Meeke! It goes without saying the Legend Boucles @ Bastogne’s book of achievements cuts a fine figure.
This Sunday, even though the day started out with an unfortunate incident involving the Ford Escort MK2 of Fred Caprasse and Adrian Fernémont in the longest section of the event, Kris Meeke (Ford Escort MK2) set the pace in the forest RTs, solidly dominating one and all, to win any dispute. “I have discovered a rally concept that I did not know, the Irishman explained. Covering such special stages with an old car shod with standard road-going tyres, without being allowed to make notes beforehand, is one hell of a challenge. Truly not easy, at times tricky! But we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and delighted to appear on the highest tread of the podium in font of all these people. Rally in Belgium definitely remains popular!”
The retirement of Caprasse and Fernémont obviously suited Cédric Cherain (Ford Escort MK2), who find himself promoted up into 2nd place, impatiently awaiting a failure from the leader … “I quickly realised that any hope of victory was in vain, the Liege based driver remarked. This Sunday Meeke was completely simply on another planet, and I reckon that to finish just behind him is a result we can be truly proud of. Congratulate to him, and happy to appear on the overall podium with him …”
Gino Bux (Ford Escort MK1) having been penalised 600 points for having missed a PC and a Slow Zone taken too fast on Saturday, similar to a Christophe Daco (Ford Escort MK2) tquite simply excellent, and Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Escort MK2) continually battling with minor issues of a car on its first event in its new configuration, the battle for the lowest tread of the podium became a confrontation among the outsiders. And in this little game it was Fred Bouvy (Porsche 911) who emerged, treating himself to the bronze medal at the wheel of the ‘new’ Porsche 911 prepared by Lionel Hansen. “We drove intelligently, and my biggest satisfaction in these conditions, is to bring the car home without the slightest scratch, ‘Fred Bull commented’. It was difficult, sporty, but a brilliant result …”
If Stefaan Stouf (Ford Escort MK1) added a solid 4th place to his record of acheivements at the Legend Boucles, one of the performances of the weekend goes to the stages regional team Frédéric François and Jérémy Penoy (Ford Escort MK2), who integrate the top 5 overall, and coming out as the best Luxembourg team in ‘Legend’, in front of Mikko Hirvonen to top it. Without his brake problems the previous day Bernard Munster (Porsche 911), co-driven by his son Charles, built up some choice performances this Sunday to climb up into 7th spot, ahead of Gérard Marcy (Porsche 911), a Jean-Pierre Van de Wauwer (Lancia Beta Monte-Carlo) who once again finished the event, and a Xavier Baugnet who has taken a liking to the Ford Escort MK1. Also worth noting the excellent 12th place of Tom Van Rompuy at the wheel of the best placed of the BMW M3 Gr.A, whereas Nicolas Ciamin made it a point of honour to provide the show following his problems in volving a universal joint at the beginning of the rally.
The 101st Airborne imposes itself at Bastogne!
The regional domination continued in the ‘Challenger’ category, and if one expected a second victory for Charles Blerot and Antoine Dauby, the engine their BMW 325i E30 gave up the ghost in the region of Martelange! As such it was Dimitri Van Hove and Lionel Windeshausen who imposed their superb Alfa Romeo GTV6 in the colours of the 101st Airborne! “The loop is round!, a delighted Dimitri Van Hove exclaimed. To win here, with such a car and livery, and this in the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, is quite magical! Together with Lionel, we are over the moon …”
The Luxembourg dominance on the ‘80 km/h’ category confirmed itself, with a great 2nd place for Luc Caprasse and Tony Kairis, one week after the Bstogne based driver had proved himself in the Rallye de Monte-Carlo! It’s Michaël Magerotte and Arnaud Hennuy (Ford Escort MK2) who completed the podium… a mere 1,30 points down on Caprasse! Pretty hot up front. The Dutchman Heino De Heijde claimed an excellent 4th place, ahead of André Glesner (Porsche 911 SC RS) and Eric Duthoit (Ford Escort MK1). Worth noting the 7th place of Aurélie Van Houdenhove and Daphné Venneman (Opel Kadett GT/E), who proved themselves in the ‘Challenge’ category in the colours of Gulf Martelange and the concept Legend Boucles 4 Women!
The Lambert family keep going, the Bartholemy inaugurate
In the ‘Classic 60’ category, Saturday’s leaders held their own from one end of the forest stage to the other, Patrick and Joseph Lambert (BMW 2002 Ti) claiming a superb victory …notwithstanding the diver’s bucket seat breaking in the final regularity test! “I’m delighted to have won this event with my son, an emotional Joseph Lambert commented. The others obviously did not hold back, but we were able to avoid making any major mistakes …”
Laureates of the two former editions, Marc Van Dalen and Julien Minguet (Ford Escort MK2) did their utmost, failing by less than 20 points from a third place. “Sunday’s course was perhaps somewhat less difficult than last year, Marc Van Dalen explained. We tried everything, but Patrick and Joseph are great winners, and we are happy for them.”
It’s the Renault 11 Turbo of Eric Piraux and Catherine Monard that completed the final podium, the team having had a few frightening moments in the rain and the night on Saturday. The coupl at the wheel of the Renault finished just ahead of the spectacular Porsche 911 SC RS of Johan et Joppe Gitsels, the BMW 1602 of Michaël Weiller and Anne Meunier, as also the Ford Escort MK2 of the Frenchmen Français Eric Guitton and Riccardo Agnesina, best international team. Worth noting 8th place of the regional team Jonathan Georges and Elisabeth Fagnant (Peugeot 205 GTI).
Another family story crowned the ‘Classic 50’ category, Michael Bartholemy and his son Noah imposing their superb Porsche 911 S, inaugurating the record book of those tackling regularity at a lower average. They finished ahead of the Autobianchi A112 Abarth of Céline Evrard et Denis Colin, who pass ahead of the BMW 325i of Georges and Stéphanie Tomsen during this second stage.
Curtain now falls on the 2020 vintage of the Legend Boucles @ Bastogne, an edition wirh extremely tricky climatic conditions, who added to the selectiveness of the event …