Verstappen masters the Rallye des Ardennes!


Jos Verstappen wins the 70th Rallye des Ardennes

The 70th edition of the Rallye des Ardennes opened the Belgian Championship Division 2. The classic in Dinant was won by Jos Verstappen, who at the age of 51 captured his second victory in the BRC, after being the best in the East Belgian Rally last year. Last year he beat vice champion Cédric Cherain. This time the former F1 driver beat defending champion Maxime Potty, with whom he shares the leading position in the Kroon-Oil BRC.
40 teams started this morning in this Rallye des Ardennes. It was raining lightly, which made the roads extra treacherous. Jos Verstappen set the first fastest time, but then Bastien Rouard took over the lead. In a region where he grew up and where he often trained as a cyclist, Rouard finished half a minute ahead. Last year he was also second in the Rallye des Ardennes and this time he seemed to have the prospect of victory. Until he suffered flat tires halfway through the rally.
“I first punctured two front tires in Falmagne, after which we noticed that another tire was losing pressure on the connection towards the start of the Fonds de Leffe test. Because we only had two spare wheels, I had to give up…,” said an excited Bastien Rouard.
Jos Verstappen took over the lead and with 7 fastest times on 12 tests, the Dutchman in his Skoda Fabia RS completely controlled the race. Together with navigator Renaud Jamoul, he achieved his second victory in the BRC and his second victory in two weeks, after also winning the Rally Hannuit last weekend.
“It was my first participation in the Rallye des Ardennes, so I had to look for grip on these stages in the first round. I had an idler on the first stage and we moved straight ahead on the third stage. From the second round “When it was dry, things went much better. We took control of the race and took a nice victory,” said Jos Vertappen.
Maxime Potty finished in second place with his Citroën C3 Rally2 at 37.5. “We lost too much time on the first lap, when I was not satisfied with the settings in the rain. When it was slippery, the car sometimes reacted bizarrely. I had too little confidence and lost the connection. I just have to admit that Jos Verstappen was very strong today. I was able to approach his times, but making up for my deficit was never an option,” Potty said.
Roger Hodenius had to work hard in the last lap to hold on to the third podium place. He was 8″5 ahead of Sébastien Bedoret, who made a great catch-up race after a puncture on the opening lap.
“I had trouble getting into the rhythm this morning,” said Roger Hodenius. “We went off the track twice on the first lap, once quite hard against a wall. Also on the second lap I made a slide. So, today we needed some luck to finish. When it got drier, the speed is good on these fast and difficult tests.”
Sébastien Bedoret steered the eldest of the Skoda Fabias to an impressive fourth place, ahead of Thibaud Mazuin, who reached his goal of the top 5. Nicola Stampaert opened his season in the BRC with a nice 6th place, after he was able to beat Jourdan Serderidis, previously a two-time winner of the competition, in the final round.
On the penultimate special stage, Maxim Decock, who dominated the race all day in the RC4 class with his Opel Corsa Rally4, let victory in Division 2 and in the Junior BRC slip through his fingers. The pilot from Komen slid off the runway. As a result, victory in Division 2 and in the Junior BRC went to reigning Junior champion Jonas Dewilde in a similar Opel Corsa Rally4.
“Today Maxim Decock was the fastest and he deserved the victory, but he allowed himself to be surprised. Our goal was to gain as much experience as possible with the Opel Corsa Rally4 to be ready for the start of the Stellantis Cup in the Rally of Wallonia. That has already worked out well,” said Jonas Dewilde.
In Historic, victory went to Christophe Leclercq in his BMW 323i, after Frank Jorissen’s early retirement with engine problems. In the 2WD Trophy, David Delvigne was the fastest in front of his own audience with his modest Nissan Micra.