Princen takes out thrilling Rally van Haspengouw


The first round of the Job Fixers Belgian Rally Championship, the Rally van Haspengouw was a thrilling affair with the result not settled until the final stage with Skoda’s Kris Princen and Bram Eeibode just edging out defending champions, Vincent Verschueren and Veronique Hostens.

Princen and Eelbode celebrate their win with the team

It was a rally that had its fair share of controversy – and that controversy handed us the nail biting finish.

The topic of ‘shortcuts’ hit Verschueren/Hostens as they were penalised 30 seconds on stage 3 for not correctly taking a hairpin turn. The turn that was characterised by safety tape, Verschueren claimed, was difficult to see in the strong winds and he thought he took the correct line.  The Stewards thought differently and docked him 30 seconds.

It would be worse for Historic’s Paul Liataer and Bruno Vienne who were disqualified for taking two shortcuts at a different corner throughout the rally.  The duo had been leading their class by more than 90 seconds but were advised of their disqualification just before the ceremonial finish.

This boosted Glenn Janssens and Tom de Greetere to the top spot in their Porsche 991 SC.

In the Junior category it was a dominant win for Neils Reynvoet and Willem Verbeke. Mats van dem Brand and Eddy Smeets took the M Cup while Phillip Lommers and Peter Michiels took out the Criterum class in their BMW. Henri Schmicher and Nicky Vanderpoel took out the RGT class

But at the front it was a rally between Verschueren and Princen.

It was clear that Vershueren had the outright pace and was looking to claw back the 30 second gap on Princen.

For Princen, he admitted he was a little out to sea with his setup.  But changes made at the final service gave him a chance to fight.

Princen and Eelbode rallying through SS6

Going into the final loop of four stages, Verschueren had managed to claw back 26.5 seconds of his penalty back from Princen – with the duo going into the last leg just 3.5 seconds apart.

Winning SS9, 10 and 11 put Verschueren back in front. But it was evident that Princen had picked up his pace, with just 3.8 seconds being lost over the three stages.

Going into the final 12.4kms, Verschueren led by just 0.2seconds and Princen needed to put in the perfect stage – and he did.

He beat Verschueren by 1.4 seconds to take the win by just 1.2 seconds.

In third was Guillaume de Mevius and Louis Luika in their Peugeot 208 R5. It was a solid effort from the duo as they step up to the main category after winning the Junior title.

There were two heavy crashes – one for the Citroen DS3 R5 of Steven Dolfen and Laurent Decroupette who rolled on SS4. Title contenders Cedric Cherain and Filip Cuvilier crashed their Skoda in the same spot.For the latter duo, it will now be an uphill battle to get back on Championship terms, where even a third place could hurt your prospects.


Following these two incidents, SS4 was cancelled and competitors who had not finished took nominal times.

There was also a mechanical issue for Patrick Sneijers and Luc Bouchat. They were aiming for third outright in their Porsche RGT and were looking on for a good result until a driveshaft failure put them out on SS3.

This fight has set up the next rally – the Spa Rally in two weeks time to be a great battle and an important one for the Championship.

The RacerViews info

By Sam Tickell, February 2018

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