Kris Princen wins Rallye du Condroz-Huy, Vincent Verschueren takes the Belgian title
Vincent Verschueren has been crowned the Belgian rally champion after the Rallye du Condroz-Huy (3-5 November) to ensure a fourth successive title for ŠKODA, but it was fellow FABIA R5 driver Kris Princen who won the rally.
Princen and co-driver Peter Kaspers, who were driving for Bernard Munster Autosport, put in an assured drive to claim their fourth win of the season and did everything they could to clinch the title. After trailing to Ghislain de Mevius early on, they took the lead and managed the gap back to Kevin Abbing in second place. They ended up with a 27.2-second margin of victory, which meant that their title aspirations depending on the performance of Vincent Verschueren behind.
But it wasn’t to be for Princen as Verschueren finished in third place to secure enough points to claim the title. In the end, there were just four points between the two FABIA R5 drivers.
For the 38-year old Vincent Verschueren, driving alongside co-driver Veronique Hostens for the Duindistel team in a car prepared and run by GoDrive, third place was enough to clinch his first ever Belgian rally championship. He has finished third in the title race on no fewer than four occasions and has also won the Belgian Historic Rally Championship, but never the ultimate prize in Belgian rallying. He came into this event knowing that a top 4 finish would secure him the title regardless of what his only rival Kris Princen did.
But in a competitive field, Verschueren started very cautiously and with slick tyres on wet roads, he struggled initially. It was not until the eighth special stage that he finally moved into the top 4 and found the extra pace he needed to claim a podium finish and with it the championship title.
Verschueren ended the season with two event wins, but also finished on the podium in every rally bar one. He now joins Belgian rally legend Freddy Loix, who won the Belgian title for ŠKODA in 2014, 2015 and 2016, as a ŠKODA winner in Belgium.
While all the headlines were taken by Verschueren and Princen, there were also three other FABIA R5s inside the top 10 at the Rallye du Condroz-Huy. Bertrand Grooten, alongside co-driver Lara Vanneste, was driving his first rally of the season and first in a FABIA R5, which was prepared and run by 3Antenne Sport Racing. He finished in an impressive sixth position overall. Just behind them in seventh place were Xavier Bouche / Lorin Jamar for Team Bayard in a car prepared and run by the Toksport WRT.
And in eighth position was the race:pro motorsport FABIA R5 of Mark Wallenwein and his Portuguese co-driver Hugo Magalhães. Wallenwein won the German Rally Championship in 2012 in a FABIA S2000 and finished third in the same championship in 2015 in a FABIA S2000 and FABIA R5. But he has only driven two rallies since (one in a FABIA R5) as he focused on the management of his race:pro motorsport team, so it was a solid performance from the experienced German.
2017 Rallye du Condroz-Huy
Ferenc Vincze Jr wins Eger Rallye in Hungarian championship finale
The Eger Rally (3-5 November) was the seventh and final round of the Hungarian Rally Championship and despite Norbert Herczig having already clinched the Hungarian title for ŠKODA at the previous Mecsek Rallye, it was an event of high drama and considerable success for the FABIA R5 drivers competing.
It was the S-Motorsport SE FABIA R5 of Ferenc Vincze Jr / Attila Baszó which claimed the victory. They won ten of the fifteen special stages driven and finished second in the other five. But despite such a dominant drive, they were still only 13.9 seconds ahead of their closest rivals at the finish of what was an incredibly close rally. Nevertheless, it was enough to ensure they would claim their first ever overall victory in the Hungarian Rally Championship. And the points earned were enough to ensure they would finish third in the final Hungarian championship standings, just four points behind András Hadik, who ended as runner-up to Herczig.
In third position were Péter Ranga / Tamás Szöke. Driving for the Topp Autó 2010 Kft team, they finished 38.1 seconds behind the eventual winners to claim their second podium finish of the season. Ranga finished the season in fourth place in the overall championship standings. Further down the field, László Ranga Jr repeated his best result of the season with a sixth place finish for the Topp Autó 2010 Kft alongside co-driver Imre Tóth. József Trencsényi / Gábor Verba meanwhile secured their best result of the season for the Extrém Sport Team Kft team with an eighth place finish. Sándor Ollé / Zsolt Tóth, driving for the TMC Rallysport Kft team, claimed their first finish in the Hungarian Rally Championship in a FABIA R5 at the fifth time of asking, ending up in ninth place overall. And FABIA R5 debutant Vilmos Cseh claimed a twelfth place finish alongside co-driver Gergely Németh for the MAFC AMS team in a car prepared and run by Korda Racing.
2017 Eger Rallye
A One-Two-Three finish for FABIA R5s at the Rallye National d'Automne La Rochelle
The Rallye National d'Automne La Rochelle (3-4 November) in France was both the thirteenth round of the French Rally Championship – Division 2 and a French Cup event, and saw a remarkable One-Two-Three finish for FABIA R5 drivers.
It was Nicolas Hernandez and his co-driver Kévin Bronner who took victory, benefitting from an accident in torrential rain which forced rival Jean-Charles Beaubelique, who was leading in a WRC-class car, to retire on the final stage. That ensured that Hernandez would claim his third French Cup victory of the year in a FABIA R5. He ended up 1 minute and 23 seconds ahead of fellow FABIA R5 crew Jérôme Galpin / Anne Galpin, who were driving for Team FJ. Galpin now has three podium finishes from four French Cup events driven this year.
In third place was the FABIA R5 of Thierry Chkondali / Aurélia Chevalier. They were driving only their second rally in the car, which was prepared and run by the Rally Service Racing team, and claimed their second podium finish as well. There were two other FABIA R5s inside the top 10 too. The Team FJ car of Jean-Luc Roché / Alexandra Robin-Roché finished seventh overall (and fourth in the R5 class), while Jean Galpin / Françoise Galpin (Jérôme’s parents) finished tenth overall (fifth in the R5 class).
2017 Rallye National d'Automne La Rochelle
NEWS IN BRIEF
The Int. Lausitz Rallye (2-4 November) was the sixth and final round of the Central European Rally Trophy and it saw the experienced German driver Matthias Kahle finish in second place after a fantastic battle with eventual winner Anders Grøndal. Kahle, who was driving a FABIA R5 prepared and run by Kahle Motorsport for the Rallye - Das Magazin team alongside co-driver Christian Doerr, won four of the twelve special stages driven and led for much of the rally, but Grøndal edged ahead with three stages remaining and ended up 22 seconds clear. There was another FABIA R5 in third position as Albert von Thurn und Taxis secured the first ever overall podium finish of his rally career. Alongside co-driver Sandra Bufe, his FABIA R5, which was prepared and run by Wevers Sport, finished 42.9 seconds ahead of his closest challenger for the podium place. Further down the field, Danish duo Kristian Poulsen / Ole R.Frederiksen came home in sixth position in another FABIA R5 prepared and run by Wevers Sport. Poulsen is a successful racing driver who has twice won his class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2009 LMP2 class, 2014 LMGTE Am).
2017 Lausitz Rallye
And in the UK, at the Sunset Stages Rally (4 November), which was the eighth round of the Northern Irish Rally Championship, there was a victory for Derek McGarrity and his Irish co-driver James O’Reilly. They steered their FABIA R5 home 3.1 seconds ahead of their closest rival after a closely fought 10-stage event.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND
|10-11 Nov||Rally Waldviertel||Austrian Rally Championship||7||Gravel|
|10-11 Nov||Rally de Carapeguá||Paraguayan Rally C’ship||8||Gravel|
|10-12 Nov||Kocaeli Rallisi||Turkish Rally Championship||7||Gravel|