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Our first visit to Belgium in just under 9 years saw us travel to the Ardennes for the Boucles de Spa. Now in its 5th year as a Historic car rally, 52nd running in total, we were treated to the best part of 320 cars and crews driving through the snowy scenery. The rally was split into two with the Legends set a target of 80kmh average speed and the Classic a more modest 50kmh average speed. This would be a challenge as tyre choice was a lottery and with numerous passage controls per stage, keeping up the average speed would be more difficult than it sounds. We concentrated on the Legends, visiting the Paradis, Ster and Stoumont stages.

With a quality entry it was anyone’s guess who would win. In the end it was Bruno Thiry & Nicolas Gilsoul (Audi Quattro Coupe) who took victory by just 22.6 points from Bjorn Waldegaard & Stéphane Prevot (Ford Escort MkII) after a captivating battle all event. Completing the podium was 2008 & 2009 winner Patrick Snijers (Ford Escort MkII), co-driven this year by Sharon Vermeulen.

We do not normally mention any further positions after the top 3 but we were impressed by several other crews; 4th overall Freddy Loix & Els Brone in their diminutive Fiat Ritmo Abarth 125; 8th overall and 1st in class Francois de Spa & Stephane Grogna who were stunning in their Morris Mini Cooper S; 27th overall and our driver of the event in the entertainment stakes Tim Van Parijs & Kurt Heyndrickx in their Mercedes-Benz 500 SLC; and lastly Mark Solloway & Den Golding (Escort MkII) who did not register a finish but were massively entertaining all event, creating the biggest cheers from the massed crowd on the 4th run of Stoumont, (the closest thing we have experienced to the classic Col de Turini atmosphere of the group B era).

The Classic event was won by Jose Lareppe & Joseph Lambert (Opel Ascona B) by a reasonably comfortable margin, whereas 2nd place was decided by just 2.6 points in the favour of Dominique Holvoet & Bjorn Vanoverschelden (Toyota Celica 1600 GT) from Claude Verhelle & Yves Thirionnet (Ford Cortina GT).

Video to follow in the coming weeks…

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