It was a WRC2 fight at the front at Rally du Condroz


The Condroz Rally ended last Sunday in deep sadness after the accident in which Margaux and Romain lost their lives. The promoter of the BRC wishes to express his deepest condolences to the bereaved families, their loved ones and friends.

Of course, the sporty is completely overshadowed by this drama. The victory of 25-year-old Nikolay Gryazin, who started in Huy for the first time, was nevertheless remarkable. With his Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo from Toksport, the team he drives for in WRC2, and assisted by Wevers Sport, he drove away on Saturday afternoon from Stéphane Lefèbvre, the French WRC2 top player who had not yet been beaten in our country this season. When Lefebvre, brand new Belgian rally champion 2022, broke the transmission of his Citroën C3 Rally2 in Ouffet-Terwagne on Sunday morning, the Skoda driver was immediately sure of victory.

“I came here because I wanted to gain experience on asphalt tests with a lot of mud and dirt on the track. But also to compete against Stéphane Lefèbvre, whom I know well from the World Championship. With him at the start, I know that the level will be high. In the beginning I was a bit surprised by the speed on the stages and the slippery surface. From Saturday afternoon I found my rhythm and after 6 fastest times out of 10 tests I could go to sleep on Saturday evening with a 2-6 lead. Unfortunately Stéphane broke the transmission on Sunday morning. From then on I could control. This is a fast course, for men with guts,” Nikolay Gryazin said.

Stéphane Lefèbvre was battling for victory until Sunday morning, but in a braking zone the central drive shaft broke on his C3 Rally2, probably the result of a heavy impact on a speed bump on stage 14, Verlaine-Jehay. “The rear wheels locked up in the braking zone, after I had already felt some vibrations in the transmission. The power steering went off. I knew immediately what was going on, because in Spa I also broke the central axle. Unfortunately,” Lefebvre grumbled, who had secured his first title of Belgian champion on Saturday morning. This makes the Nordist the first foreigner since the regretted Rocco Theunissen in 2000 and 2002, to win the Belgian rally title.

Two-time Belgian rally champion Adrian Fernémont, who dominated the opening stage on Saturday, looked to be on his way to second place, but a stunningly fast Cédric Cherain gave chase on Sunday. With his Porsche 997 GT3, the resident of Liège already surprised all followers on Saturday by finishing the day in fourth place. On Sunday he continued to go full steam ahead and clocked sublime times on a fast, but traditionally also dirty course. He approached on Adrian Fernémont and in the rain he was able to force the Skoda driver into error on the very last test. Fernémont moved straight ahead at the place where a few minutes later Xavier Bouche would leave the track for good. Enough for Cherain to take second place, as the first Belgian.

“This is undoubtedly my strongest race ever. I have already won races, but coming second here, in the rain, I would not have thought possible. I attacked from the first to the last meter. This Porsche 997 GT3 is a insanely good car. It gives me so much confidence! I went to the limit because I felt that a stunt was possible and it worked. Unbelievable,” said Cédric Cherain, in tears from the release at the finish, still ignorant about the drama that had taken place elsewhere.

See the video recap here

Adrian Fernémont had only words of praise for his comrade. “This was great from Cédric Cherain. Unbelievable. I drove really hard this weekend, but on some fast stages we just fell short of top speed. And, we competed here against two top WRC2 champions, let’s not forget that.”

After Fernémont’s mistake on the final stage, Gino Bux finished in fourth place at 8″7, after a race that was slightly disrupted by braking problems on Saturday. The lack of experience on the Condroz’s tests with a top car affected Bux in particular. Maxime Potty, who suffered engine failure on Saturday and had a puncture on Sunday morning, stranded in fifth place, after Xavier Bouche’s sortie, ahead of Jos Verstappen, who was able to crown his first Condroz Rally with a clear performance and a second victory in the BRC Master Cup. It is no coincidence that he was navigated in Huy by Renaud Jamoul, the local specialist who also guided Stéphane Lefèbvre to victory last year.

Bastien Rouard and Charles Munster, the Junior Champion who made the switch to a Skoda Fabia Rally2 for the first time, rounded out the top 8 ahead of Roger Hodenius and John Wartique.