The Belgian rally season traditionally kicks off with the Legend Boucles de Spa. In fact it has marked the beginning of each season since 1953, when it was named ‘Rallye des Routes Blanches’. After 2004 the rally was no longer part of the Championship, however it has become one of the best historic rallies in Europe.
One day before the main event my mother and I headed to Spa to see a few cars and drivers. I was so looking forward to meeting François Duval, Patrick Snijers, Marc Duez, Daniel Elena, Alister McRae and many many other fantastic people.
On the way to the rally center I stumbled upon an awesome BMW M3 E30. I couldn’t help but stare at this breathtaking piece of machinery for at least 10 minutes or so.
Look at that interior!
On the next morning things got a bit more serious: The first car hitting the stages was a MG Metro 6R4 Group B driven by the Belgian racing legend Marc Duez, who managed to win the 24h Nürburgring and 24h Spa-Francorchamps several times!
Youngster Maxime Martin showed that he’s not only fast in GT cars but also in a not so easy to drive Porsche 911.
Former WRC driver François Duval pushed his Ford Escort MKII BDA to the very limit. I didn’t see him taking a single corner without oversteering; it was a real joy to watch him drive!
Porsches are a very popular choice among the drivers in Belgium.
Usually the roads are icy, but this year they were almost dry and quite warm; these conditions played into the cards of the Escort drivers, who normally suffer on icy surfaces.
On the next stage I stood almost on the road in order to get a decent vantage point. We only stayed there for a few cars as we needed to drive 50 minutes to arrive at the next stage.
As usual, Patrick Snijers put the pedal to metal. He was going for the win, but unfortunately he crashed. I still can’t find the words to describe the screaming Ford Escort MKII hitting the rev limiter, only a few meters away from me.
The Belgian spectators are highly enthusiastic about their favorite motorsport. I’m sure most of them would also have come even if the weather hadn’t been so nice.
After 50 minutes of driving and 20 minutes of hiking, my dad and I finally arrived at the next stage. And yes it was worth it! Marc Duez threw his MG Metro into the corner like he did in the good old days of Group B.
After the first car passed I moved to another vantage point. I was lying on ground and shooting underneath the crash barrier, but the photo didn’t turn out as I wanted…
Laurent Verhoestraete, winner of the 1997 Belgian Rally Championship, made a great show with his Subaru Impreza 555 Gr.A. I’m sure he had the same big smile on his face as all the spectators. There is simply no way not love this car.
Unfortunately the stage was stopped due to the crash of the young and very talented Dutchman Kevin Abbring.
Overall François Duval managed to win the rally for the second time in a row. Grégoire De Mevius took second place in front of Cédric Cherain. Scotsman Alister McRae came in 7th overall.