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Dutch rally driver Hermen Kobus returned to drive regularly in his home country this year for the first time since 2012 and he was well rewarded after three wins and two more podium finishes saw him claim the title in the 2017 Open Dutch Rally Championship (ONRK) as well as win the Dutch R5 Rally Challenge.

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.

Hermen Kobus / Erik de Wild, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Kobus Tuning. Rallye Sulingen 2017

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.

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.

Hermen Kobus / Erik de Wild, ŠKODA FABIA R5. Hellendoorn Rally 2017

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.

Hermen Kobus / Erik de Wild, ŠKODA FABIA R5, Kobus Tuning. Rallye Sulingen 2017

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.

Basic Facts

Birthdate: 25. 5. 1987
Birthplace: Netherlands
Nationality: Dutch
The biggest successes: 2017 Open Dutch Rally Champion (ONRK)
First rally: Account Software Rallysprint 2008

ŠKODA Champions 2017

Pontus Tidemand
WRC2

Gaurav Gill
APRC

Gustavo Saba
CODASUR & Paraguay

Manvir Baryan
Africa

Marijan Griebel
Europe (U28)

Jan Kopecký
Czech Republic

Kalle Rovanperä
Latvia

Roger Feghali
Lebanon

Hermen Kobus
Netherlands (ONRK)

Teemu Asunmaa
Finland

Filip Nivette
Poland

Vincent Verschueren
Belgium

Norbert Herczig
Hungary

Socratis Tsolakidis

Socratis Tsolakidis
Greece
(read on December 12)

Burak Çukurova

Burak Çukurova
Turkey
(read on December 13)

Fabian Kreim

Fabian Kreim
Germany
(read on December 14)

Simos Galatariotis

Simos Galatariotis
Cyprus
(read on December 15)