Desi Henry wraps up Ireland National Forest Rally Championship title with victory at the Glens of Antrim Forestry Rally while Vincent Verschueren tops Belgian championship standings at Rallye du Condroz-Huy.
Henry clinches Irish Forest Title with Glens of Antrim Win
The Glens of Antrim Forestry Rally is a short event, just 6 stages and 55.5km of competitive distance, but for Desi Henry (title photo above), it was ‘one of the longest rallies of his life’. It will also live long in his memory too as he won the final round of the Ireland National Forest Rally Championship in his ŠKODA FABIA R5 to secure the Championship title.
Henry, along with co-driver Liam Moynihan, had led the championship going into the event and were focused merely on getting the points they needed to secure the title. But they got the perfect start as they won the opening stage, and after pre-event favourites Sam and Josh Moffett both retired, Henry had a clear run to claim both the win and the title.
The Irish Forest title caps an impressive season for Desi Henry; his first in a FABIA R5. He has driven
19 rallies, winning four of them and also securing three podiums in the British Rally Championship too. As Desi Henry himself said, ‘it’s been a terrific achievement for a such a small team’.
Verschueren and Bouche secure ŠKODA ‘one-two’ in Belgian championship standings
The Rally du Condroz-Huy was the 9th and final round of the Belgian Rally Championship. Despite Freddy Loix having wrapped up the Belgian championship title at the Ypres Rally back in June and not taking part in this event, there was still plenty at stake for the ŠKODA FABIA R5 drivers who were on the starting line.
It was Vincent Verschueren who impressed most and his third-placed finish overall – and 1st in the Belgian Championship standings – was a positive end to what has been a mixed season for him. He finished only behind two factory cars piloted by World Rally Championship drivers Craig Been and Stéphane Lefebvre and just 37.7 seconds behind the overall winner.
Verschueren was alongside co-driver Veronique Hostens in a FABIA R5 for the Go Drive team, and after a slow start in wet and treacherous conditions they quickly found their pace and coped well with the slippery roads, which saw many other drivers crash out.
Just 27.9 seconds further back came another FABIA R5, piloted by Xavier Bouche / Anthony Grégoire for the Bayard team. It was another impressive performance by the veteran Belgian driver, whose two previous Belgian championship events this season had seen him finish 4th at the Spa Rally and 2nd at the Rallye de Wallonie.
There was a disappointment however for the winner of the previous round of the Belgian championship, Cédric Cherain. Along with co-driver Renaud Herman, he had finished 1st in his debut drive in the ŠKODA FABIA R5 at the East Belgian Rally. But at this event, despite impressing in the early stages and leading during Day 1, an accident on the final stage of the day forced him to retire.
Ghislain de Mevius / Johan Jalet, driving a FABIA R5 for the Ice Pol Racing team, were also forced out of the event early, after retiring on stage four. But they returned on Day 2 and drove the entire second leg, posted some impressive times along the way, including three stage victories.
NEWS IN BRIEF
- Ilario Bondioni / Elia Ungaro performed well in the Ronde Gomitolo di Lana in Italy over the weekend. Driving a ŠKODA FABIA R5 for the DP Autosport team, they finished 1st in the R5 class and 2nd overall, just 9.9 seconds behind the winner.
- Elsewhere in Italy, there was another strong FABIA R5 performance at the Ronde Città del Palladio, where Efrem Bianco / Dino Lamonato also finished 1st in the R5 class and came 3rd overall.
- Jérôme Galpin / Anne Galpin impressed in their FABIA R5 at the Rallye National d’Automne la Rochelle in France. They came 1st in the R5 class and in 2nd place overall, finishing 1 minute and 8 seconds behind the eventual winners.
- Staying in France, Mickaël Reydellet / Thomas Chauffray won the Rallye National de Normandie in their FABIA R5. They finished 11.2 seconds ahead of runner-up Sebastian Ling, who was driving a ŠKODA FABIA S2000.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
Rali Casinos de Algarve
Portimão, southern Portugal; 12th to 13th November; the 8th round of Portuguese Rally Championship; asphalt event, 9 special stages, around 120km of competitive distance.
Entered ŠKODA FABIA R5s:
Pedro Meireles / Mário Castro; Miguel Barbosa / Miguel Ramalho (BP Ultimate ŠKODA Team)
A ŠKODA last won this event back in 2013 when Ricardo Moura / António Costa led home Pedro Meireles / Mário Castro in a ‘one-two’ finish for the FABIA S2000.