Linnamäe shows class in Dinant for Belgian Rally win


On its return to the calendar of the Kroon-Oil Belgian Rally Championship, the Rallye des Ardennes had an eventful race. The changeable weather conditions made it extra difficult for the 86 teams that had registered. In the end, the Estonian Georg Linnamäe won the race after an exciting duel with regional driver Bastien Rouard, also in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2.

After the victory of the French Belgian William Wagner (VW Polo GTi Rally2) in the Rally of Haspengouw and the success of Maxime Potty (Citroën C3 Rally2) in the South Belgian Rally, this victory of the Estonian promise already marks the third victory of a driver of different nationality. The best proof that the high level of the BRC is attracting more and more riders of international level. The fact that Ott Tänak, the 2019 World Champion, was out of competition with the official Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid to prepare for the next round of the WRC in Croatia, further confirmed the international appeal.

The race itself was dominated all day by the Hyundai i20 N Rally2’s. Bastien Rouard took his playmates cold at the start. He took full advantage of his experience on this course to set two fastest times and take the lead in the race. He was then relieved as leader by Georg Linnamäe with a similar Hyundai. They both made a mistake during the day, but they stayed close to each other. The difference at the start of the final round was barely 3 seconds in favor of the Estonian, who decided to go the extra mile in the final. He finally won by 27″2 over Rouard. “The conditions were very difficult for my first experience with this Hyundai on tarmac,” said the winner, who also scored maximum points for the championship. “It was an excellent preparation for the Croatia Rally. I am very happy with this victory, because I started the race with a lack of track knowledge compared to my rival.”

Bastien Rouard, second, has every reason to be proud of this result against a driver active in WRC2. “I attacked hard on the first two tests of the final round, but I soon realized that there was no point in insisting without taking excessive risks. Of course I would have preferred to win in front of my own audience, but I am doing a great job in any case the championship and it’s my best score ever in the BRC. I feel really good in this Hyundai.”

Also for the last step on the podium a fierce duel was fought by two unlucky guys who lost quite a bit of time due to mechanical problems. Maxime Potty immediately saw his race ruined by a broken drive shaft, which cost him almost 2 minutes. Grégoire Munster in turn lost nearly 1’30” due to problems with the pop-off valve. With an ultimate attack on the very last stage, the championship leader narrowly managed to park his Citroën C3 Rally2 on the podium at the expense of from the pilot of the Ford Fiesta Rally2.
“There was certainly more to it, but after our unfortunate start, this is another unexpected podium finish and we are doing a good job,” said Potty. Grégoire Munster was less satisfied: “All day long I compensated for the lack of power of the Ford Fiesta Rally2 by attacking to the max. At and over the limit. The problem with the pop-off valve unfortunately knocked us off course for victory .”

Thibaud Mazuin, fifth, was the best of the outsiders. He beat Junior Planckaert, strong in his introduction to the Rallye des Ardennes, and Jourdan Serderidis (VW Polo). The Greek Belgian, the true benefactor of the race (he ensured the participation of Ott Tänak, Georg Linnamäe and Grégoire Munster), won the classification in the BRC Master Cup, reserved for riders over 50 years old. Behind this trio, Marvin Henrard defied the laws of physics to keep his Porsche 997 GT3 on the track and masterfully win the battle in GT. Hats off also to Johan Van Den Dries, ninth and first with a front tractor at the wheel of his Peugeot 208 Rally4. The top 10 was closed by the Dutchman Ingo Ten Vregel with a Ford Fiesta Rally3. A good result for Ten Vregel who came into action for the first time in Belgium.
The main victim of the treacherous course was Gino Bux who went off the track at high speed just after halfway with the VW Polo GTI Rally2.

The Renault Clios Rally5 of the Clio Trophy Belgium provided the spectacle until the very last meters. Lander Depotter’s victory was never in jeopardy, after he got off to a very strong start. The fight for second place was exciting. Pierre-Manuel Brasseur felt the hot breath of Lyssia Baudet on his neck in the final phase, after a one-minute penalty. The young lady first put pressure on Nikolai Bruyneel, causing him to go off track at KP 11. In the end she stranded just 3 seconds behind Brasseur.

In Historic, Dirk Deveux was relieved early on from his playmate Tom Boonen, who had to retire in the opening round when the gearbox of his Lancia Delta Integrale broke. The pilot of the Ford Sierra Cosworth 4×4 drove in a controlled manner to a deserved victory for Patrick Deblauw’s Escort. The battle in the 2WD Trophy was won by Christiaan Spelmans in his Renault Clio RS.