Sylvain Michel is the French Tarmac Rally Champion as controversy reigns in Belgium and Lebanon, but Bernhard ten Brinke still impresses at Omloop van Vlaanderen.
Sylvain Michel claims French Tarmac Rally Championship
Sylvain Michel secured the French Tarmac Rally Championship title at the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine last weekend. Driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for Team 2C Yacco along with co-driver Jérôme Degout, Michel has driven with impressive consistency throughout the season, although two punctures at the start of the second leg and in the final stage of this event saw him drop back from first place overall to only finish seventh in the R5 class and 10th overall.
But with just one rally remaining, Sylvain Michel has earned enough points to top the championship standings after coming first in the R5 class in each of the previous five events of the season.
As Sylvain Michel was steering his FABIA R5 towards a championship win, there was another performance worthy of note on the day too, as Pierre Roché and his co-driver Julie Faure finished in third place overall. They were also driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for Team FJ Elf and after a pushing hard for a top 3 finish throughout and a pacy final stage helped them to claim the final spot on the podium.
The French Tarmac Rally Championship will conclude between 24th and 27th November with the Rallye du Var.
Bernahrd ten Brinke second and Melissa Debackere fourth at Omloop van Vlaanderen
At the Omloop van Vlaanderen, the seventh round of the Belgian Rally Championship, there was drama to be found on and off the course. Much of it surrounded the performance of Vincent Verschueren, who – along with co-driver Veronique Hostens – was driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for the Duindistel team.
They impressed in wet and challenging conditions and managed to finish in second place which was their best result of the season. But a small technical issue towards the end of the rally meant they couldn’t get their car to the podium unaided. Regrettably, the work on the car was done in the area, where it was not allowed. And despite celebrating their podium finish, they were later disqualified by stewards because of this.
But what was bad news for Vincent Verschueren, proved to be good fortune for another ŠKODA FABIA R5 driver, Bernhard ten Brinke. He was the main beneficiary of the disqualification as he was promoted up to second place overall.
Ten Brinke and his co-driver Davy Thierie came into this event off the back of an impressive drive at the Rallye Deutschland in the World Rally Championship. And they kept that form going, despite scheduling meaning they were on the course during some of the worst of the weather.
There was also another impressive performance in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 as Melissa Debackere and her co-driver Cindy Cokelaere brought their Duindistel car home in fourth place.
For budgetary reasons, this season’s Belgian rally champions, Freddy Loix and Johan Gitsels, skipped this event. They will line up at the next round, the East Belgian Rally, where they will be looking to make it seven wins out of seven participations this season. The event will take place on 23rd and 24th October.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
Osterode am Harz, central Germany; 9th to 10th September; 8th round of German Rally Championship; asphalt event, 13 special stages, around 125 km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5:
Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian (ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland)
Fabian Kreim / Frank Christian won this rally last year in a ŠKODA FABIA R5 by a margin of more than one minute. There has been at least one ŠKODA FABIA on the podium of each of the seven German Rally Championship events this season.
Košice, east Slovakia; 8th to 11th September; 6th round of Slovak Rally Championship, 6th round of Hungarian Rally Championship, 9th round of CEZ Championship; asphalt event, 13 special stages, around 142 km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Pavel Valoušek / Veronika Havelková (Energy Oil Motorsport); Tomáš Kukučka / Peter Vejačka (KL Racing Team); Věroslav Cvrček / Petr Novák (L Racing)
The last ŠKODA to win the Rally Košice was a FABIA S2000 driven by Norbert Herczig / Igor Bacigál, who claimed victory back in 2014 by less than 3 seconds; Pavel Valoušek / Veronika Havelková finished third here last year in a ŠKODA FABIA S2000.
Rally Princesa de Asturias – Ciudad de Oviedo
Oviedo / Uviéu, northern Spain; 8th to 10th September; 8th round of Spanish Rally Championship; asphalt event, 12 special stages, around 105 km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5:
Iván Ares / José Antonio Pintor (Peña Autocross Arteixo)
This is the first event in the 2016 Spanish Rally Championship, which has seen a ŠKODA FABIA R5 entered. It will also be the first start in the car for Iván Ares and José Antonio Pintor, who have already enjoyed 3 podium finishes in the championship this season.
Iași, eastern Romania; 8th to 10th September; 7th round of Romanian Rally Championship; gravel event, 9 special stages, around 118 km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5:
Dan Gîrtofan / Tudor Mârza
Dan Gîrtofan finished 2nd in this event in a FABIA S2000 in 2013. He has won it just once before, back in 2007.