Lefebvre untouchable as Bux impresses in Rally van Haspengouw


The Kroon-Oil Belgian Rally Championship 2022 opened on Saturday with the Rally van Haspengouw in Sint-Truiden and the surrounding area. The 24th edition of the classic in the fruit region was dominated from start to finish by the Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre. Citroën’s former works driver in the World Rally Championship led home Gino Bux, who the revelation of the rally, with Ghislain de Mevius coming home third.

This is the first time a non-Belgian driver has taken the Rally van Haspengouw with local drivers succeeding in the 23 previous editions ( the Rally van Haspengouw is the successor to the Haspengouw Rally, the classic from the 1980s). With Stéphane Lefebvre, the race immediately has a big name on the record, because the Nordist is a former Junior World and European champion. This year Lefebvre is taking a shot at the Belgian title for Citroën and he immediately opened his account with a resounding victory.

“I discovered the course of the Rally van Haspengouw and the conditions made it difficult, because on this course the grip changes constantly. In the end we made no mistakes, while the competition did make mistakes. In the final phase I was still very careful not to This first victory is a great start to the championship,” laughed Lefebvre, who is already looking forward to the next appointment, the South Belgian Rally in three weeks’ time in Vresse-sur-Semois.

Gino Bux, last year’s winner of the Stellantis Rally Cup, made his debut in the top class. Together with Nicolas Gilsoul, Thierry Neuville’s former navigator in the WRC, he unexpectedly finished second overall. “This is far beyond expectations. No, I didn’t dare dream of this. Three fastest times and then a second place, that’s amazingly beautiful, especially because I was at the start here for the first time,” mate Gino Bux, former rider of the RACB National Team.

Ghislain de Mevius was moderately satisfied with third place, at 42″80 from Lefebvre. “I’m actually not dissatisfied at all. I was faster than Adrian Fernémont, so the speed was there, but today Lefebvre and Bux were a bit faster. Oh, it’s details. I’m already looking forward to the South Belgian Rally, where it also went well last year.”

Adrian Fernémont stranded just off the podium, after losing 25″ due to an impressive spin on the first stage. “We were surprised by a huge amount of water on the road. I knew there was water, but it is still difficult to estimate how deep the puddle is. I went a bit too fast and we went around four times. You lose your drive and your confidence. In the end I can live with fourth place, because this is not my favorite event,” said the defending champion.

William Wagner, the Belgian Frenchman who started with a VW Polo from Team Sarrazin, was quite satisfied with fifth place in preparation for the Rallye du Touquet. Just as Kris Princen was pleased with the pleasure he had at the wheel of the Citroën DS3 WRC, a car he rented purely for fun and in which he immediately lost a minute this morning due to a problem with the handbrake.

Maxime Potty, still only 22 years old, finished in 8th place. Very promising for the next rounds of the Kroon-Oil BRC. The other surprise of the day was Jos Verstappen, the former F1 driver and father of Max Verstappen. After a strong start and a 4th place after the first loop, Verstappen sent his Citroën to 9th place. A good outing for his rally debut and immediately good for a victory in the Master Cup. “I really enjoyed this first rally, but I realize I still have a lot to learn. But, I had a lot of fun,” said Verstappen, who finished just ahead of Jonas Langenakens, the local specialist from Landen.

The unlucky ones of the Rally of Haspengouw included Xavier Bouche (off the track), Niels Reynvoet (off the track) and Patrick Snijers (engine broken).

In the Junior BRC, the victory went convincingly to Tom Rensonnet with the Renault Clio Rally4. In Historic, the victory went to Bjorn Syx, after Dirk Deveux gave up. Patrick Diels was fastest in the M Cup and Bart Vandevelde was the best in the new 2WD Trophy with his Renault Clio.