The 61st ConXioN Omloop van Vlaanderen, the third round of the Kroon-Oil Belgian Rally Championship, has more than fulfilled all expectations. Once again, the battle for victory and the podium places was exciting until the last meters. In the end, Ghislain de Mevius showed himself to be the strongest, consolidating his leading position in the championship. The Skoda driver won by 8″8 over Vincent Verschueren and 18″8 over Adrian Fernémont, the winner of the Pirelli Powerstage, for 5 extra points.
de Mevius shows his class again in OVV
The Omloop van Vlaanderen had 19 special stages this year, of which 7 stages, good for 63 km, were completed on Friday. With the tenors the differences remained small, while the speed was still very high. “I even think that people drive faster than in Ypres. My VW feels better, I’m in better shape, but still I can’t make the difference,” said Vincent Verschueren, third after the opening night at 5″1 from leader de Mevius, who was in top form from the start on Friday evening: “We prepared well, although I have little experience on this slippery course. I only drove here in 2019 with the Skoda Fabia R5. But, the rhythm we got in Ypres and the settings we found for Ypres also help us here. Only it goes damn fast up front,” laughed the son of Grégoire de Mevius, winner of the Omloop van Vlaanderen in 1996.
On Saturday there were 12 special stages on the program and on the opening stage in Passchendaele, with 25 km the longest of the race, things went very wrong for Niels Reynvoet. The Skoda driver went off the track in a fast section, where he rolled over several times. The test was neutralized. Sébastien Bedoret, second after the opening day and the winner of the race in 2019, pushed off the track on the next stage, the Zilverberg.
Fortunately, peace returned after that, although at the front, the fight was on. Ghislain de Mevius systematically distanced himself, although even that term is relative, because the Skoda driver started the final test in Beveren with just 9″9 lead over Vincent Verschueren, second with his VW Polo. On that last test there were also 5 bonus points. But the championship leader was no longer tempted to take risks. Ghislain de Mevius and Johan Jalet won the ConXioN Omloop van Vlaanderen with an 8-8 lead over Vincent Verschueren.
“It is my second victory this season, after the victory in the South Belgian Rally, but I think this victory is very important. It is my first victory in Flanders, on a course that does not feel natural to me. I had to work for years to to be competitive on these kinds of tests. The South Belgian Rally, that victory was certainly not easy, but I still rate this one higher,” said winner Ghislain de Mevius.
Vincent Verschueren was very satisfied with his second consecutive second place in the Kroon-Oil BRC. “We have clearly made a lot of progress with the VW Polo. We finish 8-8 behind the winner. This was the first race in which I had real confidence in the behavior of our Volkswagen Polo. That promises for the rest of the season.”
For third place the battle was very close until the last meters. After all, Grégoire Munster came out strong and went into the last test 0″7 behind defending champion Adrian Fernémont. He kept a cool head and clocked the fastest time on the Pirelli Powerstage, which also puts him third in the final standings.
“On the final day we only lose 4″ to winner Ghislain de Mevius, so it is clear that we lost the race on Friday night,” said Adrian Fernémont. “We just chose a wrong set-up on the slippery asphalt. On the last test I gave everything to get the 5 points. I really need those points,” said Fernémont.
Grégoire Munster was fourth and the Hyundai driver was not happy with that. “No, because the third pass of the Passchendaele stage was canceled for safety reasons. If we can drive that test, good for 25 km, I could have pushed Adrian off the podium. Too bad…”
Kris Princen opened the race on Friday with a small slide straight ahead and the Citroën driver was never able to recover the lost time. The three-time winner of the race ended up in fifth place at 49″2. Pieter-Jan Michiel Cracco, winner in the Ypres Rally, finished the race in a nice sixth place. But there was more to it, because the Skoda driver lost time due to technical problems on Friday night and the wrong settings.
Monnens takes a stage win a GT car!
In the GT category, Gunther Monnens was clearly the strongest. The Limburger sent his Porsche 991 GT3 to a handsome 7th place, including three fastest times on the “Zoning”, the round trip on the industrial estate in Roeselare. Glenn Janssens, long in the footsteps of Monnens, had to put his Porsche aside on Saturday with a broken suspension. This is how the 2nd place went in GT to Tuur Vanden Abeele, although he lost more than 6 minutes after a slider on the very last test.
Nicola Stampaert, who is in his very first rally season, finished in a very good 8th place overall with his Ford Fiesta R5. He was 3″6 faster than Paul Lietaer, the fastest in Historic at 64. In his 501st rally, Lietaer dominated the final day, after the early retirements of the first leaders Stefaan Stouf (engine), Bjorn Syx (gearbox) and Pieter-Jan Maeyaert (swing bridge).
In the Junior BRC there was no size for Charles Munster. Gilles Pyck won the Clio Trophy Belgium and Gino Bux was one size too strong for the competition in the Stellantis Rally Cup.