0″6! Barely six tenths of a second after 12 special stages and 137 km against the clock. The 25th Rally of Haspengouw had a very exciting denouement. On the penultimate stage, William Wagner, a Belgian who had fled to France, took the lead in the race over from Maxime Potty The difference at the start of the very last test was barely 0″8. Potty reacted and set the fastest time on the charts, but he was barely 0″2 faster than the leader. William Wagner won with a minimal lead of barely 0″6!
“Of course I am very proud of this victory,” the 29-year-old Belgian who lives in the Vosges enjoyed. “I started the race too cautiously, but I was able to systematically increase the pace. Still, I had to give everything to keep Potty off at the end. Yes, maybe I’ll come back to Belgium this year with my Volkswagen Polo GTI Rally2. ..”
Maxime Potty, leader from the opening stage to the penultimate stage, remained calm in the loss. “I gave everything on the last test, without wanting to take excessive risks, because also with second place I am doing the best thing for the championship. I am just very satisfied. I wanted to compete for a podium finish. I more than succeeded! ”
Third was Cédric Cherain, who crowned his first rally with the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 with a podium place 18″3 from the winner. “For a first experience in the Hyundai, this is an excellent result. I got to know the car. It was still set up too smoothly, but the potential is definitely there.”
Gino Bux finished fourth at 32″. It was also his first introduction to his new battle weapon, the VW Polo GTI Rally2 ex-Vincent Verschueren. “A car that has a lot of potential, but the VW was built and developed for factory pilots who use the potential to 100%. This is a car you have to drive with a knife between your teeth, because at 90% it’s not that efficient. I have to test more to get to that level, but the driving pleasure is great and that is also important. This fourth place is already promising.”
The top 5 was completed by Cédric De Cecco, who lost valuable time on the first two stages because the tire pressure gauge was set to the wrong measurement unit. De Cecco was satisfied, as was Bastien Rouard, sixth in his first race with the Hyundai i20 Rally2. Kris Princen, 7th, was in contention for the win until half way through the race. At that moment he was even ahead of William Wagner, the later winner, but a defective fuel pump cost a total of one minute (21″ on the test and 40″ penalty time for 4′ too long service), which made him 7th. “And yet I can be satisfied, because I didn’t think I would be able to fight for victory between the youngsters,” laughed Kris Princen, five-time winner of his home rally.
Jonas Langenakens crowned a strong performance in his home rally with an 8th place, the first non-Rally2 driver. Charles Munster was 9th at 2’03″7 followed by Kurt Boone at 3’02″7.
Adrian Fernémont was the loser of the weekend. The two-time Belgian champion went off the track in Boekhout, having just set his first fastest time on the tables. Nicola Stampaert (off the track), Gunther Monnens (suspension), Glenn Janssens (suspension) and Roger Hodenius (off the track) also had an off day.
Marc Timmers, just like 33 years ago navigated by Stéphane Prévot, was the winner of the Master Cup on the very last test thanks to Roger Hodenius’ sortie. In RGT the victory went to debutant Marvyn Henrard, while Jonas Dewilde took the win in the Junior BRC ahead of the deserving Scot Fraser Anderson. In the Moood M-Cup there was no measure against local specialist Patrick Diels, who beat top favorite Bjorn Syx. In Historic the victory went to Dirk Deveux ahead of… cycling legend Tom Boonen, who made a great debut. And finally, Faustin Lahy was the best in the 2WD Trophy, ahead of Christiaan Spelmans, who dominated the race until a flat tire threw a spanner in the works.