For the past five years, Kobus’s attention has been on the rallying abroad. But in 2017 season, driving for Kobus Tuning team in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 prepared by his father and alongside long-term co-driver Erik de Wild, he made a triumphant return to regular rallying on home soil, making a habit of coming back from slow starts to achieve great results.
His first event of the year was the Zuiderzee Rally, which was the opening round of the ONRK as well as the Benelux Rally Trophy. And it couldn’t have gone better for Kobus, as he claimed the overall victory as well as finishing top of the ONRK standings. Two wins in the final four special stages helping to catapult him to the top of the standings after a time penalty saw rival Jasper van den Heuvel demoted to third place. In the end, Hermen’s margin of victory was 13.1 seconds.
After that perfect start, the next round of the ONRK took Kobus across the border to Germany for the Rallye – Rund um die Sulinger Bärenklaue, where he again benefitted from a fast finish. After sitting ninth at the end of the first leg, a run of four wins and three second places in the final seven stages thrust him up to second in the overall standings. It was also enough to ensure he would top the ONRK standings for the second successive event.
Hermen Kobus at the Open Dutch Rally Championship 2017
The third round of the ONRK was the ELE Rally in Veldhoven and yet again Kobus made a big impression. He took two stage wins and only finished outside the top 3 on three of the event’s seventeen stages to eventually end up third in the final results, just 18.1 seconds behind the overall winner. But again, he topped the ONRK standings to make it three wins out of three in that competition. It also ensured he would win the opening round of the Dutch R5 challenge.
Next up was the GTC Rally, where Kobus made a fast start winning three of the first four stages and leading overall until SS5 when turbo problems saw him fall back to third. Despite winning five of the eight stages on the second leg, he was unable to close the gap on the leaders and ended up third in the ONRK standings and second in the R5 challenge standings.
The final round of the ONRK season was the Hellendoorn Rally, which is also the most prestigious event on the Dutch rallying calendar. At this event, Kobus’ focus was entirely on winning the points he needed to secure the ONRK title. But nonetheless, a consistent drive saw him end up third in the overall standings and second in the ONRK championship. With those points, it was confirmed that Hermen Kobus was the 2017 Dutch Open Rally Champion, as well as the winner of the Dutch R5 Challenge.
The other event Kobus drove this season was the Ypres Rally in Belgium and his performance there warrants a brief mention. In a strong field, he again recovered from a slow start to move through the field and eventually finish fifth overall after a gripping battle with Giandomenico Basso.
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Hermen Kobus (born 1987) began his rallying career in 2009. After a few years driving his home series, Kobus was crowned winner of the Dutch championship in the F2 category in 2010. The following year he headed across the border to Belgium where he won the Belgian championship in class 5. After finishing second in the Dutch championship in 2012, he spent the following five years building experience abroad, mostly in Belgium and Germany, but also at selected events in the European Rally Championship. In 2017, he returned to the Netherlands where he clinched the Open Dutch Rally Championship as well as the Dutch R5 Challenge titles.
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