FREE STARTS 2017
Efforts get rewarded in FIRC! The three class winners Ellis/Fowler, Coulson/Coulson and Williams/Cowley can choose two free starts for the 2017 Challenge. Further on, we can give away some wildcards again to the following teams, who each win one free start:
Allfrey/Fellowes as most unlucky team. Plans for a full FIRC attack were ruined by a big off in Wervik, the car just got repaired for Hemicuda but all title hopes were gone.
Lower/Greenfield as most spectacular team. Barney often forgot he was rallying instead of drifting. And that in a virtually standard car. Lunatic!
Van Middendorp/Veldkamp as best Dutch team. And also for the best field kitchen and the most fun bar in serviceparks around!
Richards/Gibson as best effort. Registering for FIRC without any realistic chance on winning anything, a load of mechanical worries and still keep smiling. Respect!
Dawson/Dawson as best rookies. The pace went steadily up after every rally, resulting in podium finishes in class, as well as a general class win in Kortrijk. Very promising for 2017!
Looking back at our free start politics, we think every FIRC team who registered in the past years has won (or was given) a free start now. Quite a good return on investment we think.
Final words for 2016
With the 2017 calendar published, we can look forward to FIRC#8... but it’s is nice to look back too. Undoubtedly the 7th edition of FIRC was the most succesful so far. After a continuous growth troughout the years, we suddenly saw the Challenge exploding, with some events having 30 foreign guests, mostly good for a quarter of the seeding list. We have to go back several decades to see such numbers in Belgium, and even then they only appeared in some national events.
The FIRC recipe will not change much in 2017, it will only get better. With more events to chose from, teams can spread their efforts more evenly troughout the year. And talking about teams, we expect even more next season, again. This year’s newcomers are also addicted now, and the interest of new teams is still growing. This promises a lot for the title battle, especially with an updated class system.
The 2016 Challenge was undoubtedly the most nerve racking edition so far, with three titles decided after the last stage of the last rally! No one really doubts we should see an identical scenario in FIRC#8. To make stuff even more interesting, we have seen the birth of two new Challenges for next year that are both related with FIRC. In the mean time, we wish you many happy hours in the workshop and in between a Marry Christmas and a happy New Year, see you soon!
Unique result for Coulson in Kortrijk
FIRC traditionally gets decided in the last event.
This year proved to be no exception to the rule, apart from the 2WD title the Coulsons took in Hemicuda. But they also won the overall title on Rally Kortrijk completing a unique result for the brothers. However it was quite a surprise to see that the 4x4 title was also decided when Kortrijk entries closed. Only Johnnie Ellis and Gavin Smith started in the 4x4 category while direct title rivals like David Campling (mechanical) and Tony Clements (lack of time) were forced to stay in the UK.
With Smith no longer a threat to Ellis, ment that the ever ambitious TI Team now could go on the full attack and aim for a top ten result, not the easiest target in a field with ten R5 and three WRC cars, plus a lot of experienced locals in other quick metal of all kinds. Johnnie and Marc floored it, avoided the traps on a very tricky layout, and finished an impressive seventh overall! Many Belgians drivers who witnessed their performance were speechless. This year every rally had its surprise ad it happened again!
More encouraging times were shown by Anthony O’Brien, who flirted with the top ten the whole rally, but was forced to retire with an oil leak. He shows great promise for 2017. Gavin Smith finished his season in style by taking second in the 4x4 category but next year there will be something new. Gavin will drive in the historic class in a smart Delta Integrale. We look forward to seeing this very rare car on our roads.
With both 2wd and 4x4 titles already decided, all the attention went to the Historic field where some drama was expected between Andrew Thomson and Richard Williams. One little mistake would ruin their chances, not ideal for the nerves in these very tricky circumstances. Both teams had a troublefree event though, but only on the very last stage it came clear that Ricky Williams would take the title again. Only one point seperated the pair with Thompson the first to congratulate his opponent. This is the smallest margin ever recorded in FIRC too.
Ben Dawson put in another strong performanc. He beat Williams and all the Belgians in his class! Same story for Les Allfrey who also claimed the general class win, his second this year doing this. Guest driver Tim Mewett showed equel speed too. The only historic victim was Mike Smith, whose car caught fire in the service park, nothing really bad but the heat caused too much damage to the wiring.
The biggest smiles came from the 2WD drivers. Steve Brown efforts this year were rewarded with a first and very well deserved 2WD FIRC victory, even beating several local R2 cars. Also Dutchman Van Middendorp finally managed to finish a rally without trouble. The Dutch team created a beautiful atmosphere within the service park, inviting many UK crews for food, drink and general kindness and becoming the unofficial FIRC headquarters on the rally. The happiest crew was, of course were Dave and John Coulson, who also took the overall FIRC title, the first time in seven years that a team achieved this. No one even came near before, but on their maiden year the bruvs did it, dominating FIRC from the beginning. Never seen this before! Massive congratulations!
Still a couple of teams were less fortunate, but their adventures can be classified as typically Belgian. Guest driver Steven Finch parked his Escort on a pole and Philip Smith visited a ditch, this happens to everyone sooner or later. However the most cruel retirement went to Robert Richards, his steering rack collapsed while driving off the podium on Sunday morning.
Looking back on 2016, we believe this has been the most succesfull year so far. Many competitors, loads of fans and very good competitionthat was tense to the end. No less than 26 teams registered, and loads of guest drivers too. We assume FIRC has come to a turning point now. Where it once all started as a friendly initiative, only meant for a handful of teams, the Challenge has become so big and popular now we will have to double our efforts for 2017. And we will!! We already got many new teams confirmed for next year, while our regulars obviously are stuck with the virus and will continue to do the Challenge. But we also get more support from everyone else around, so the future looks very good.
We are ready, you are too, and you can be sure we will do everything to maintain the atmosphere as it is now, no matter how many crews come over in 2017 (and we expect many more, again). We will only take a very short break (or possibly none) this winter, so keep a close eye to our Facebookpage, there is a lot more new stuff coming to keep you hooked. Wait and see...
Hemicuda for King Ellis
With a great indian summer weekend and 28 international teams at the start, Hemicuda looked to be perfect before the start. However a perfect start was not really the case for several crews. Gavin Smith had to spectate after an accident during recce and guest star Hans Weijs did not even make it to the first stage with a broken driveshaft. André Van Middendorp arrived at SS1 in a steam cloud due a broken radiator hose, once refitted also a driveshaft snapped after only 2K. One kilometer further Martin De Vere-Packford was forced to retire as well... with a broken driveshaft. More steam was to come when David Dockree went on stage and saw his engine explode. Trouble came along too for Andrew Thomson who lost 4 minutes on stage with a puncture, Stephen Brown visited a ditch and Anthony O’Brien struggled with the gearbox on his new EvoX and would retire after the first leg.
No further issues came after leg one, and we saw Johnnie Ellis storming to the lead in Modern 4x4 and even taking 3rd place overall, followed by David Campling and Tony Clements who stayed within secs during the whole event. Another nice duel was going on in 2WD, where David Coulson and guest driver Simon Thomas had a nice battle. The BMW crew took no risks with the title in mind so the unofficial victory went to Thomas, all the points were secured by the Coulsons (again). More smiling brothers, named Gibson, took a great 2nd place in 2WD, before Garry Elswood who still remains in the title run. John Wood was forced to park his broken Escort, but Stephen Brown had a faultless run after his early adventure and took some nice class points.
In Historic we saw another perfect run from Richard Williams, winning with only a coupe of seconds on Ben and Mike Dawson who saw their great pace just not rewarded. Guest driver Henri Bève took 3rd while Andy Thomson fought back to 4th, followed by Bill Cook, Mike Smith in his brand new and very smart Avenger and Richard Legget in his reliable Alfa. Les Allfrey came very unusually last in class but a long stay in a ditch is a good excuse in Flanders.
Every rally has a surprise this year, and Hemicuda even has two. We expected Johnnie Ellis to be very quick, but beating several local specialists with similar material in their own backyard, even with only 2WD on the last leg, is nothing but spectacular. It’s also the first time in years we see an FIRC crew on the overall podium again. Another surprise was the action displayed by guest drivers Mark Jones and Jonathan Hawkins in their M3. Being new in Belgium, we did not know the men were total lunatics. On full attack modus everywhere and all the time, taking all possible risks on unknown territory, everyone expected them to land hard in a ditch rather sooner than later. They came 10th overall... Can someone convince them to come over more often and give driving lessons to some members of the M3 army in Belgium?
Pointswise it still looks very interesting with one event to go. All the pressure is now with the Coulson brothers. If they do what they did the whole season, they will easily catch both 2WD and the general title. But if the sport gets cruel, Garry Elswood or Richard Williams will. One thing is for sure, no modern 4x4 will clinch the title this year, unprecedented! Andy Thomson still stands a good chance in Historic, while Johnnie Ellis, Tony Clements and David Campling will fight for the crown in 4x4. Kortrijk will be a thriller!
FIRC at Rally Day
The FIRC crew will be there again, supported bij The International Rally Drivers Club and The London Irish Motor Club. We hope to meet many, and you know where to score Belgian beer too!
Countdown for FIRC finals
Two rounds remain in FIRC#7 and everything is still possible. We can all agree that this season is the most exciting one so far. Last year’s Challenges saw their final battles in Kortrijk Rally and this year will be no exception. However, we never had so many teams with realistic chances on a title in all classes. We honestly feared the worst when Andrew Thomson and Richard Vincent dominated Historic and even overall in ORC Canal Rally, our opening event. Being one of the most experienced teams in FIRC, driving a top car and without resistance from regulars on an equal pace like Tony Clements or Alex Taylor, it all did not look to good for the tension in the Challenge, but a couple of unfortunate events for the Cosworth team mixed it all up.
In their maiden year, John and David Coulson took a strong lead overall and certainly in 2WD so far, with nothing but class wins in all the events they took the start. But missing out Les Boucles Chevrotines with its crazy result came unexpectedly costly. Garry Elswood claimed the maximum points score there and took a major leap forward in the standings. One DNF can now be enough for both to loose the title, so there will be some pressure on their shoulders in the two remaining events. Also Stephen Brown, John Wood, Barney Lower, Chris Peart and Iain Gibson still stand a chance in 2WD but luck will have to be on their side. But we all remember what happened in Chevrotines...
Same story in Historic where Richard Williams and Andrew Thomson seem to have the best chance on a title, but Martin Jones, Ben Dawson, Paul Griffiths and even Richard Leggett can do a great deal if something does not go as planned for the two top teams. In Modern 4x4 finally, we can expect anything. With only four teams in this class the title should go to Tony Clements or newcomer John Ellis, but David Campling still has a realistic chance too, or Allan Smith, or Gavin Smith if some luck is on their side.
For the general title it’s impossible to put a name forward. Logically the FIRC champion is driving one of the fastest cars, meaning Modern 4x4. However the teams in this class now have to score a lot of points trying to catch up on some 2WD and Historic cars, so it could well be we have a surprising name at the top standings in about two months. First we have to see what happens in Hemicuda where no mistakes will be permitted. With three weeks to go 85 teams are on the entry list, 29 international teams so far, again a great success for FIRC. See you soon in and around Koekelare!
Only Elswood survives Chevrotines
We are very glad to announce that the first Walloon rally in FIRC was a major success! A warm welcome by very enthusiastic organisers, smooth document control, easy scrutineering and above all superfantastic stages, resulted in nothing but happy people in Sivry-Rance and its great countryside for Les Boucles Chevrotines, bienvenue aux Anglais! But that was on Saturday....
Once the action started, it became clear very quickly that the stages were very demanding for man and machines. First victim was Barney Lower who could not solve a major brake problem despite all the help offered (we thank Juha Bos for his efforts) by the local teams. By the time the event started Barney and Ben were already back in the UK. Andy Thomson set off like a rocket as expected, but a puncture on SS1 cooled him down a bit. However, their pace was up and the Cosworth crew settled easily in the top ten, and could realistically aim for a top five until the throttle cable decided to refuse all duty and forced the team to give up. By then, we had already lost Iain and Andrew Gibson with a broken driveshaft on SS3, quickly followed by Martin De Vere-Packford with a broken alternator belt. Robert Richards struggled with fuel problems. Bill Cook made a great although careful comeback after nearly six years without rallying, but still found himself fighting for a class victory halfway the rally. Ben Howlett and Garry Elswood had enjoyed a trouble free run thus far, but David Dockree saw his horses become donkeys one by one, and finally also had to retire with a blown head gasquet. The last leg saw more victims with Rob Richards retiring with a broken driveshaft covered in fuel perfume and Bill Cook ending up in a ditch, sadly on a turn without spectators. In the meantime, guest drivers like Ben and Simon Howlett were finishing strongly in the top ten, while Marty Mc Cormack and Darren Moon took one-two in historic, beating local specialist Christophe Jacob; also a familiar name in the UK.
However, no-one could threaten Garry Elswood who avoided all traps and had a trouble free run troughout the day. His experience on similar stages in the past clearly paid off and his reward was a superb maximum points score, which saw him storm trough the classification. This year every rally had a surprise, and Chevrotines is no exception with only one registered driver finishing, this has never happened before. Even better, Garry enters the select club of 2WD drivers taking a general FIRC victory, while navi Evy Vangheluwe also clinches her first win, in only her fourth event in the Saxo.
For sure Les Boucles Chevrotines are a great added value to FIRC, so no doubt this event will be back on the calendar next year. Often described as ‘the far one’, it’s all not so bad with just about an extra hour to drive. Road connections to the area are very good and everyone doing the rally was very positive without any exception, describing the rally as one of the most laid back events they had ever seen. Summer break for FIRC starts now, we see you all back in Hemicuda Rally where we expect a massive UK entry again.
Ellis confirms in TBR
This report is also a bit delayed, just like the event. Reason for this is the overall classification that arrived a bit late, we apologise for that. Despite being the only single venue event on the calendar, we still saw a good turnout with nearly 20 teams in a fully booked Rallysprint. The start was chaotic due to issues with the Marshall’s fire extinguishers, and once running two big crashes caused even more delay. Once everything was put together, Johnnie Ellis stormed to victory in Modern 4x4 and took an impressive 6th overall too. Another easy victory but on a bit slower pace was Richard Leggett’s first historic FIRC win, despite ending last overall. Seems like every rally this year has a surprise...
While the quickest and the slowest cars had a rather relaxed run, battle in 2WD was huge. No less than 15 cars gave al they could, with only one victim. Dutchman Van Middendorp had to withdraw witha broken driveshaft, spare parts presented by other Opel teams did unfortunately not fit. The quickest man around was undoubtedly Andy Egger who pushed his Nova to the limits, directly followed by John Legg and Martin De Vere-Packford who both made a great comeback, while John Coulson confirmed his pace again. Winner in 2WD was Andy Egger, but the points go to Coulson since Andy is not registered. Barney Lower could have ended a lot higher in the classification but he enjoyed the slippery tarmac too much and decided to go sideways everywhere. Further on we saw good performances from guest drivers Paul Sharp, Henri Bève, Richard Weaver and Stuart Ranby, while regulars like John Wood and the Gibson Bros took important points in the Challenge. More interesting stuff is to come in three weeks where we expect a rather quiet event, however no one doubts the points standings will be very interesting after Chevrotines.
After another brillant visit to Goodwood FOS, thanks to the efforts of The International Rally Drivers Club, we focus on some more action on Belgian soil now. FIRC’s third event, TBR Rallysprint is fully booked (again...) with 120 cars since weeks. Despite being a single venue event, we still see a nice line up with 17 UK drivers and a handful of Dutch teams too. Also Boucles Chevrotines has entries rushing in now, it promises to be a hot summer for the Challenge. The results could be very interesting too!
TBR and Boucles Chevrotines update
As mentioned on Facebook, bookings for both events are open. TBR Sprint will be a big hit with bookings rushing in, also Les Boucles Chevrotines already gets good attention so a field of 120+ cars is to be expected, possibly fully booked too. We stress that the FIRC office is closed the last two weeks of June, no mails will be answered since we spend a week in Goodwood FOS and continue to travel the UK afterwards just to improve our knowledge of the rich British Culture.
Great Clements comeback in Wervik
Woodstoxx Rally Wervik showed a second record braking entry for FIRC with 36 international teams booked on a total of no less than 156 teams! Despite this great figures we still missed a couple of favourites. Andy Dawe in the superfast 2WD Sunny was forced to stay at home due to ECU nightmares, while David Campling and James Ducker were there to spectate only, since their smart Escort suffered severe engine damage after ORC. In these circumstances Andrew Thomson could do a great deal in the Challenge if he kept the same pace he showed in the opening event, but new names like Johnnie Ellis, John Wood, Stephen Stringer, David Dockree and guest driver John Indri in his Fiesta R5 could perform very well too, also 2014 Champion Tony Clements reappeared after his monster crash last year, so no doubt an interesting rally was under construction.
The first incident already occurred in SS2 when Andy Thomson decided to pay respect to the local traditions and ditched his Sapphire, remodelling a garden and trashing a wall included. This reduced the battle for FIRC victory between the two remaining 4x4 machines, the Evo 9 piloted by regular Tony Clements and newcomer Johnnie Ellis in his equally fast Subaru. Ellis adapted surprisingly quick to the stages and took a firm lead while Clements settled in second position, waiting for things to come regarding the weather forecast. Indri joined their company too, discovering the Belgian stages while avoiding too many risks, R5cars do not come cheap and John does not do the Challenge anyway. Wervik is known to be a very hard rally, so it did not take long before we had more casualties. Les Allfrey joined the ditch club, Gavin Smitch had electronical iussues, Pat Anderson saw his engine go, Stephen Stringer his gearbox and the fast Martin Jones got excluded due to a time penalty.
The Belgian crews had similar adventures so still everything went relatively well, until a thunderstorm decided to join into the rally. Stages immediately changed in ice skating rinks, the main victim of those slippery circumstances was Johnnie Ellis who met a typical local booby trap called mud. The Subaru parked itself in a ditch, ending only some meters behing local star Victorien Heuninck. No matter what the spectators tried, both cars stayed stuck and got the stage cancelled later. A very impressive 7th(!) overall position was history, as well as a great points score. Then Tony Clements, very experienced in Belgum, saw his chance and easily claimed victory after a faultless run in very tricky conditions. Speed is one thing, strategy another. Same story for John Indri who saw an intelligent rally rewarded with the 11th overall position and an unofficial 2nd FIRC, pretty cool for a return in Belgium after some 20 years break. Our other guest drivers Jamie Brown and David Wood easily made the top 20 as well.
In 2WD class no one could threaten Dave and John Coulson, who dominated their class and took a second victory in a row in their first Belgian season, very impressive. Stephen Brown claimed a great 2nd in class after a clever run, directly followed by our first open car John Wood in his Vauxhall powered Mk.2 Escort. David Dockree, another one of many new names this year, had to retire his Vauxhall Lotus Sunbeam with gearbox troubles but sureley the crew had great fun on the stages and afterwards. This resulted in a nice points score for 2015 2WD Champ Elswood and Dutchman André Van Middendorp, who had to drive very carefully with a standard gearbox, after the real stuff broke in ORC. Philip and Robert Smith claimed the last FIRC spot but being new in Belgium a ditch waved them in as well, traditions are there to be respected but still we should see them back in Chevrotines in August. Brave men!
In the Historic class only two cars made it to the finish. Richad Williams proved his pace once again and was never threatened for victory, while Ben and Mike Dawson claimed a great second place after their early retirement in ORC and took important points for the Challenge.
Talking about points. In seven years of FIRC it never happened before we see just one modern 4x4 in the top... 11! Historics and 2WD rule now. The lonely 4x4 is the one of Tony Clements, who actually only registered to support the Challenge (thanks Tony!) but only plans Hemicuda later in the season so there are no direct hopes on a new title, unless the man changes his plans off course. With TBR and Chevrotines to come, we expect a smaller but very mixed turnout on both events, so it all looks very interesting for the Challenge standings! Anyone can still register this summer and still have realistic hopes on a title, how cool is that?
Finally the Wervik organisers want to thank all the UK crews who attended the impressive Piper’s Band in the WW1 commemoration on the podium after the rally. The Battle of Britain Coin was handed over to Mark Fowler, codriver of Johnnie Ellis, who had many relatives involved 75 years ago.
Now we look forward to TBR and Chevrotines, the last one new to us all, but before this FIRC will be present at Goodwood FOS, thanks to the efforts of The International Rally Drivers Club. If you’re there too let us know, we can share a Belgian Lager! See you soon....
Preview Woodstoxx Wervik Rally
With 7 R5 cars on the entry list, this event nearly looks like a national rally. FIRC is very proud to present John Indri with his Fiesta R5, the biggest name we catched so far, sure the man will have good competition from the Belgians. Despite some withdrawals we can still book another record breaking entry of 30+ foreign teams, we look forward what they will do in this fully booked rally with 150 cars at the start. Sadly enough title favourites Dave Campling and James Ducker will be there to spectate only. The sorry DNF in ORC revealed another problem, being a crack in the engine block. The powerplant needs a total rebuild, the Escort will unfortunately only be back for Hemicuda. However in Wervik we see the reappearance from 2014 Champ Tony Clements, as well as the debut of Jonnie Ellis and David Wood. Also 2WD ace Andy Dawe is back after the ORC disaster, the results will surely be very interesting since a certain Alex Taylor also plans a comeback later this season. But if Andy Thomson repeats his ORC performance he can do a great deal in the standings. The weather forecast looks quite ok, but the extensive rain we had the last few days may well cause some muddy corners, so the more experienced teams can take advantage of that. Wait and see...
Great comeback for Thomson in ORC
ORC Canal Rally was the undoubtedly the best season’s opener so far. Nearly fully booked with 145 cars, many top machines, good weather and no less than 27 FIRC drivers booked in, a new record. Only Derek Webb withdrew before the event for personal reasons, but via this way we thank Derek for his efforts with Corbeau Seats and the £1000 prize money the company offered and was given to the 2015 winners in a cosy and very well attended BBQ party at Friday eve, local beer tasting included. The serious work started on Saturday with scrutineering and already there we saw a first victim. Multiple 2WD Champion Andy Dawe couldn’t even drive his car due to an unexpected and unrepairable throttle problem. The new teams all passed, despite the fact that several cars were not entirely ok according to VAS regulations. However it was all about minor stuff, VAS will publish a bulletin soon to clear out some things, we will keep you informed.
On Sunday the first stage showed some interesting times, with David Campling and newcomer Anthony O’Brien only separated by a couple of seconds. Unfortunately the Irish Evo was forced to retire after SS1 with a broken gearbox. This was good news for David Campling, who no longer had direct rivals left now since Andrew Thomson struggled with electricity and brake problems on the first leg. More drama on SS2 for Ben and Mike Dawson when a front wheel broke off, on SS4 Mike Smith and Sean Moriarty were forced to retire as well with a broken waterpump.
From the second leg onwards, the cars got kinder for their drivers and we saw some good battles developing. Historic class saw a serious upgrade this year with newcomers Paul Griffiths and Martin Jones who immediately attacked Historic Champion 2015 Richard Williams. This bunch of three went very quick and sideways, much admired by the many spectators around, also the local drivers were very impressed by their stage times. Les Allfrey, back from a sabbatical, would even take the overall class win, still pretty exceptional.
While David Campling drove in his own world in Modern 4x4, there was a serious fight going on in 2WD class. Newcomers John en Dave Coulson took the lead in their fast Compact M3, chased by Chris Peart in his new Fiesta R2. This would also be the top two at the finish, with quite an irritated Chris Peart who got a time penalty of 5’ for unclear reasons, a penalty that would be neutralised after the event. A bit further in the field there was good action between the 2015 2WD Champ Garry Elswood and the very quick newcomers Barney Lower in a virtually standard(!) BMW Compact, Ben Smith with a heavy right foot in the humble 106, while also Steve Brown in his great Micra Kit Car, previous ORC class winner Robert Dillon and James Dixon in his smart Nova quickly felt at home on the Belgian stages. This group was directly followed by Dutchman André van Middendorp, guest driver Paul Sharp, a very enthusiast Robert Richards, regular Neil Dodd and the Gibson brothers, who made their debut in FIRC last year and used their experience to improve their car during the winter break. In some stages they went nearly 20” quicker so the hard work clearly paid off.
The biggest attack troughout the rally came undoubtedly from Andy Thomson. All the troubles got solved after the first leg and the selfmade Sierra stormed through the field. Much of the lost time was taken back resulting in an easy victory in Historic and a second place overall waiting, one minute behind David Campling, but on the second to last stage the gearbox of David’s Escort litterally exploded... so Andy and Richard took overall too! For the first time ever in FIRC, a Historic car takes the overall victory, never seen before and the sixth place in general Historic was a plus too with nearly fifty cars at the start. With a very disappointed Campling out of the rally, it looked like regular Allan Smith would take his first and much deserved win in Modern 4x4, however a broken cluth forced the Subaru to retire too, same story for van Middendorp who had gearbox issues.
Looking back at this first event, we can all be very happy. As always there were mechanical nightmares for some teams, but everyone drove quick and carefully, so no crashes for our guests. Maybe the Historic Escort boys drove a bit less careful but they made a great impression, the Coulson brothers took an impressive win on their debut, the new teams all show good pace and coped well with the stages and the pacenotes, also some friendships with Belgian crews are already established. We already have 20 drivers registered yet, a new record and more will join in Wervik and maybe even later in the season depending on the standings. Most of the teams do four events so this looks very interesting for the Challenge point standings this year. Wervik is approaching quickly now, with 150 entries the rally is already fully booked showing good quality: six R5 cars with FIRC guest driver John Indri and the return of 2014 Champion Tony Clements, 2 997’s GT3 plus a cargoload of M3’s and Evo’s. With 24 British and more French and Dutch drivers teams the international line up counts no less than 36 teams, again a quarter of the field! See you soon at this great event.
Full house for ORC Canal Rally and Rally Wervik
FIRC#7 kicks off in style this year. Our first two events both have a record breaking entry of foreign teams: 28 for ORC and no less than 36 for Wervik!! We never had such a massive entry so far, ORC mainly attracts UK drivers who represent nearly a quarter of the entry list, while Wervik traditionally attracts a good entry from French and Dutch teams too. Many UK teams still have to book for Wervik so it could well be we go to 40 foreign entries. This would be unseen in Belgium, even in the golden days of rallying in the ‘80s and ‘90s there weren’t such figures, not even in our well known national events.
To make things even better, we have a vast number of new names who confirmed to do a couple of occasional events to check out how it all works over here, mainly to plan the 2017 season. This means we are very confident about the future of FIRC. Every year we attract more teams and rallying in Belgium seems to be very addictive for our overseas friends, so it’s getting really big now. Cool for a litlle championship that once started with 10 cars...
ORC Canal Rally is nearly fully booked , also Wervik will get a massive entry so we can start the new season in the very best circumstances, both for drivers and spectators. A very big THANK YOU to all the drivers, navi’s and mechanics for their efforts to make the Challenge so fantastic, let the countdown start!
We still have to wait a couple of months before FIRC #7 kicks off, but we already have an idea what the 2016 Challenge will offer. ORC Canal Rally does not plan any changes to the stage layout so the rally will look very familiar to our regulars. However Wervik Rally will see some major changes to several stages so good recce will be very important. More of the same for TBR Rallysprint wich will be entirely new to everyone, we hear the Oekene SS will be very challenging including some very tricky corners.
More tricky stuff will be offered at Boucles Chevrotines, our new event for this year. No doubt a talented navi will be of great importance in this very fast rally, full of blind turns and tops on stages that have a very different caracter than those in Flanders. Later in the season, Hemicuda will keep its usual stage layout but this can not be said from Kortrijk. After the havoc caused by last year’s rainfall, the organisers have decided to skip many of the gravel sections to avoid a new crash record, so we can expect stages that are very different from those we know. Keep a regular eye to our Facebook page for the latest news on events and regulations.
A new year, a very new season!
Last year ended maybe in a way the whole season went, unfortunately with another unexpected surprise. TBR Rally decided to become a sprint, more or less forced to by the local politics who thought that two rallies (TBR and Omloop van Vlaanderen) in the same area were a bit too much. Luckily a quick survey learnt that most of the regulars liked the stages, so we decided to keep the event in FIRC, just with less points to score since a sprint is not a full rally. Still all of us wanted five full rallies, but without good opportunities left in Flanders, the noses were pointed towards the southern direction: Wallonia! Many drivers asked us the past couple of years wether there could be an option towards the French speaking bit of Belgium, now there we are: Boucles Chevrotines! Although the roads are similar, the geography is pretty different compared with Flanders, see how the teams cope with it. With the rally organised on 6/7August, we think this fits perfect in the calendar which goes like this now:
- ORC: 28/29 May
- Wervik: 10/11 June
- TBR: 9/10 July
- Boucles Chevrotines: 6/7 August
- Hemicuda: 8/9 October
- Kortrijk: 26/27 November
Last but not least we would like to welcome drivers with a bit more ‘special’ cars, according to the new open class all of you have been informed about previously. Without any doubt FIRC#7 will be fantastic!
2015, the most dramatic season so far?
The past years in FIRC were pretty nice to drivers and spectators. Yes, there was the occasional rain now and then and many teams became a member of the famous Ditch Club, however last year was quite unusual. It all started with ORC Canal Rally who saw its first rain in nine yeras of organising and that was new for everyone. Accidents everywhere and the FIRC squad did their bit too. Tony Clements made a massive rollover and little time later Chris Peart finished his Nova on a post, all in the first leg. Then Anthony Darou dived into a house on the last leg... Three quick cars written off in a rally that ended in total chaos with incidents everywhere all the time. All was sorted pretty quickly but it showed again how hard rallying can be in Belgium.
Wervik Rally was quite good to everyone but newcomer TBR Rally kept quite a lot of surprises. Main victim was Alex Taylor who went off no less than four times but still managed to finish the event, while Andy Dawe took general and 2WD, and not for the first time. Again back to good old rallying in Hemicuda then, where Taylor took his second FIRC title and now equals Andy Rowe. However the season would end the way it started. Torrential rain, ice cold winds and even snow tortured men and machines in a soaked Kortrijk Rally. The countless number of crashes forced the organisers to end the rally with two stages to go, with Andy Dawe clinching the double again (!) and FIRC regular Garry Elswood taking his first ever title in 2WD. Rookie Richard Williams became the much deserved Historic Champion in his debut year, winning all the events he took part in. Further on we enjoyed the smart Alfa GTV debut of Richard Leggett, the pace David Campling, Gavin Smith and the Gibson brothers developed troughout the season and all our regular competitors enjoying themselves once again on the tricky Belgian roads. Hopefully 2016 will cause less havoc!
Dawe takes second double in Kortrijk
The biggest Flemish Rally of the season was supposed to end FIRC#6 in style, but the weather decided otherwise. This was without any doubt the coldest and wettest rally in six years of FIRC. Many could not believe their eyes when they saw snow on Saturday morning, followed by rain the during whole weekend, unfortunately the freezing wind was just not strong enough to blow the clouds. Despite the arctic conditions a surprisingly huge amount of spectators faced the elements, rally fans really are a brave special breed!
Off course the heavy rain turned the stages into mud skating rinks causing uncountable spins and offs, but the most unfortunate guys were Chris Peart and Steve Lancaster who traveled the whole end from Hull overnight, arrived late, tired and stressed... and saw their car brake down when driving from service to scrutineering, this sport can be very cruel. Garry Elswood then was the first victim in action when his Saxo lost all power on the second showstage on Saturday. However, the 2 points startbonus ensured him of the 2015 2WD title, very much deserved after five years of competing in FIRC. The surviving English boys and girls all took a careful start on Sunday with 2015 Champion Alex Taylor taking the lead on Dawe, Smith and Campling who all showed the same pace. Disaster would strike to the Forester however, a blown engine ruined all the efforts and possibly the next season as well since this bill will not come cheap. A busy schedule for 2016 will not help Alex either. Campling then took the lead but was also forced to retire with a broken driveshaft even causing a minor fire, but the home made Flemish stew offered by some local residents while awaiting recovery made David and Jim feel a lot better, the damage is not too bad either. This drama put the road for victory wide open for Andy Dawe, who stood no chance against the 4x4’s in his Sunny but drove faultless in the hard conditions. This way he takes the 2WD and overall win for the second time this season in his rebuilt Sunny that is clearly very quick and reliable.
Gavin Smith ended on the second place after having lost time in the dark with serious visiblity problems, while historic champion Richard Williams took third overall and off course the FIRC Historic win, in front of Richard Leggett who avoided all the traps and had a clean run in his smart GTV. Martin De Vere-Packford came second 2WD after an interesting battle with guest driver Les Allfrey, this time behind the weel of his newly built 205 GTI. The rally ended in quite a chaos with stages delayed and eventually cancelled due to the dramatic weather, but once everyone got in parc fermé the party afterwards was really great, with the big FIRC delegation literally closing the tent at midnight. Once again one big happy family, what FIRC should and will be. We thank everyone for another great Challenge year, in the next weeks more important news about FIRC#7 will go online. It all looks very good for 2016, but we want things official so stay tuned!
Preview Kortrijk Rally
The final event of the season developed in a predictable style since the rally reappeared on the Flemish calendar three years ago now. Over 200 bookings in a couple of days, but the entry list got expanded to 175 cars instead of the usual 150. Plenty of great material starts in Kortrijk with 5 WRC and 6 R5 cars, also the FIRC delegation will be impressive.
Some FIRC crews decided to skip the event to prepare for the 2016 season, other have their car not ready but most of the top drivers will be there. The long awaited seeding list will be published on Wednesday 18th November. We look forward to this great event and hope for some good FIRC overall results.
The first rally after the summer break saw all of the FIRC regulars back in action on the Hemicuda rally.
After some pre event issues, Alex Taylor set off at his usual pace to find that the stages were very slippery. Andy Dawe also matching and occasionally beating Taylor for pace through the early stages in the 2wd Nissan. Nick West’s challenge faltered with turbo issues which were going to haunt him all day. In the Historic class Richard Williams led Keith Pettit who was suffering a gearbox problem with Mike Smith close up behind in the sunbeam. Mike suffering from another competitor running into his car on the stage.
In 2wd Andy Dawe led from Garry Elswood (Saxo) and Anthony Darou (bmw), followed by Martin DeVere Packford (306) and Iain and Andrew Gibson in their Honda. The brothers suffering with handling issues during the first loop after a suspension bolt came loose.
A very fast rally would take its toll on the competitors with Pettit retiring with engine problems, as did Packford. Andy Dawe retired with reported engine problems and Allan Smith crashed out after a tyre came off the rim. Gavin Smith fared slightly better, a ditch encouraging him in, but escaping to get to the finish 17th overall, albeit with no clutch and a broken exhaust.
Arriving at the finish of an uncharacteristic “safe, clean run” and 17th overall was Alex Taylor and Frank Werner who, subject to confirmation, win the 2015 FIRC championship.
Garry Elswood took after a well-judged run a 42nd overall and a first place in 2WD which gives him a very healthy lead going into Kortrijk.
Richard Williams and Andrew Cowley finished first FIRC Historic and 32nd overall after a last minute issue with the battery shorting out just before the final control.
So we head next to Kortrijk with two out of the three classes still to be decided. Please remember to get your entries in early to book your place and that the FIRC office is closed until mid-October.
The 2015 final, a preview
It’s still over month to go for Hemicuda Rally. We hope everyone had a relaxing summer holiday, although Anthony Darou, Chris Peart and Tony Clements spent a lot of energy on rebuilding their cars after that dramatic ORC Rally. All crews hope to be back in Hemicuda. Regarding the overall standings, Alex Taylor still has the best chance to win, in Historic the same can be said about Richard Williams. However both drivers cannot afford any mistake, if so Kortrijk rally will be really interesting. In 2WD class nothing has been decided yet, on top of that Robert Dillon and Anthony Darou return too, so the battle in this class will only be decided in Kortrijk fors ure.
In Hemicuda Rally, the FIRC honours during the event will be done by Neil Dodd and Val Thomson assisted by Ward. In the mean time we also await a solution for booking in to Kortrijk Rally, as well as more details about the new class for 2016 which should be finalised in November.
Double for Dawe in TBR
The last event before the summer break promised to be very interesting: a new rally for everyone, the long awaited comeback from Andy Dawe with the new Sunny, Andy Egger who won the Driver’s Award for a free start, and the debut of Richard Leggett in the exclusive Alfa GTV in Historic.
The first stages were very interesting indeed with Taylor, Dawe and Campling scoring similar times, but it all went wrong pretty soon for Taylor, who never got to grips on the slippery stages and finally dropped down the classification after four (!) offs, losing over two minutes and leaving the car in even a more creative shape than it was before. David Campling clearly feels better and better on the Flemish stages but his great efforts were ruined by a broken power steering. This put the road wide open for Andy Dawe who stormed to a much deserved victory after a stressy spring with nothing but trouble on the car. Alex Taylor fought back to 2nd FIRC before Gavin Smith and Nick West who both took important points. No room for error is left for Taylor now, since everyone is doing the two remaining events.
In 2WD class things look even better than they were. No one came close to Andy Dawe, but all 2WD teams finished and scored points. Andy Egger proved his speed again and came 2nd in class (and 28th overall!) but is not registered, so Garry Elswood is still leading. He will have to face some Nissan fury in the upcoming events. Also Iain Gibson is coming closer, Robert Dillon and Martin De Vere-Packford remain important outsiders running the final events despite having missed two results.
In Historic finally, no one could threaten Richard Williams but main rival Keith Pettitt came 2nd again and is waiting for a little mistake with the blue machine. Richard Leggett made a great debut navigated by the very experienced Cat Lund, so he could be an important player if he registers for a full season. Lesser news for Henri Hardiment who blew up his engine, but there is the whole summer to fix that. Now we can all relax a bit, we hope to see you back in Hemicuda, in the mean time enjoy your holiday!
Golden Poppy Trophy awarded to Val Thomson
Also this year there was a ceremony at Wervik Rally to remember what the British did for us a century ago. The Golden Poppy Trophy announced earlier on this site went to Val Thomson. Her family got hit very hard with two cousins missing in action during WW1. Matthew Gesson ’s name is on Tyne Cot Cemetary and George Gesson’s name can be found at Menin Gate, both men still rest somewhere in Flanders Fields amongst many others, way over 80000. A third family member, Joseph Waring is to be found in North France.
Two for Taylor in Wervik
As bright as the sunshine was, how good it all looked for two drivers in FIRC: Keith Pettitt and Alex Taylor. Mike Smith could not make it and former champ Pat Anderson just had a one off in his smart Galant, so the only thing Keith Pettitt had to do was finishing the event and take important points for the Challenge. Job done despite some gearbox issues and Keith went home with some cups again, a tradition the last couple of years. In TBR his main rival Richard Williams will be back, let us see what this gives.
Another smiling man was Alex Taylor, whose ultimate goal is to do a ‘Clements’ and win all the events this year. Uptil now the Frosty squad has the right pace and despite a minor off easily won in the abscence of Tony rebuilding his Evo and Andrew Dawe, the quickest man ever in 2WD but still with a headache regarding his engine. Gavin Smith took an honourful second place in front of Nick West who had a happy run and takes important points again. No doubt Nick will be a dangerous outsider if Taylor ever has a DNF.
Does the above mean it was a boring day? Not really for the 2WD squad, where Martin De Vere-Packford decided his lead was a bit too comfortable and went on chasing Gavin Smith. With some 20 secs difference at the finish, it just did not work but the effort was great. Behind Martin we saw a close fight between Iain Gibson and Garry Elswood until the Honda visited a ditch, unfortunately far away from any spectator. Before the car was pushed on the road again 6 minutes were gone, but a full attack on the last leg made the Gibson brothers end just before Derek Webb, who started his season in Wervik. Further on we also saw interesting times from guest driver Andrew Smith in the all new Ford Pinto Cup, making his debut in our country and keeping a 5th position out of 10 almost identical but a bit more liberal cars. We hope to see the crew back for some more events later on.
Talking about the near future, we have TBR Rally in about a month before summer break. It will the first time all the regulars will be present, very interesting for some time comparisons. See you then!
Taylor Dominates Crazy Canal Rally
The 2015 opening event was driven in wet conditions for the first time in nine years. Althougth that‘s not unusual in a country used to rain, with stages that have not changed much the last couple of years. A piece of cake one would think... There was certainly one crew that had a trouble free run full of fun: the Race To Recovery boy and girl, safely packed in the Bowler tank, and able to escape independently from ditches when needed. Being one of the Course Cars, the Castrol Cat enjoyed massive attention at the service park during the whole weekend, TV crews included. We thank Royal Marine Grant White, Stephanie Boddez and the whole crew again for being present at the Canal Rally, which looked pretty much like a battlefield in its own way...
SS1 saw massive drama with the horror crash of reigning champion Tony Clements. Putting a wheel in the grass on high speed was enough to launch his Evo skyhigh. This crash was one of the heaviest seen in Belgium for years, but luckily enough both men were ok; although unfortunately the car was a total write off. Tony and Mark put on brave faces at the FIRC Award Ceremony on Friday, but their recently awarded Chamipionship Cups did not bring any luck at all. Both men felt little of the impact, until they saw the footage afterwards. It could have been a lot more serious, but it didn’t stop them from having a couple of beers later. That’s what we call style! More havoc came a couple of miles further after the restart, when Chris Peart hit a pole and saw his brand new, supersmart looking Nova shortened somewhat. In the meantime, we lost Mike Smith too, whose Sunbeam only made it for a few turns before refusing all duty; and it was the same story for his namesake Allan. His Subaru stopped a couple of times for no apparent reason, and finally stayed dead. With four crews out after the opening stage, the omens were not good. The next victim was newcomer Iain Gibson who had a very good run before his Civic stalled, with another electrical problem. The next car stuck in the servicepark was Martin De Vere-Packford with a broken gear lever, clutch cable and more; far too much to be repaired in time. Despite a full FIRC livery (thx!), there was no chance of a comeback for Martin. As if this was not enough, Anthony Darou, our only Frenchman in FIRC , crashed into a house at 90mph, leaving the back of his brand new BMW M3 Compact in quite a unique shape.
Out of the 17 crews at the start, only 7 made it to the finish. Richard Williams, also new to the Challenge, had an exceptional run compared to his peers, enjoying a trouble free and easy win in the Historic. Keith Pettitt drives an identical car, but his engine could not match the power of the BDA in Richard’s vehicle. However, Keith competes in all the events, and Richard doesn’t. Could be interesting at the end of the year.
The remaining 2WD cars both secured Cups. Newcomer Robert Dillon was the unofficial winner but will decide on registering in Wervik, so the official victory in ORC went to... Garry Elswood, very much to his surprise. Garry did not finish a single event last year, which saw him rewarded with a wildcard for 2015, but now he has taken his first ever FIRC victory in 5 years. He finally had some luck on his side. Robert Dillon was then awarded the general class win - not bad for his Belgian debut.
The quickest machines all had their own rally. David Campling struggled a bit with pacenotes, tyres, grip and spins, but his pace will certainly improve after he becomes acclimatised to Flemish country roads. The fantastic Escort Cosworth is already a big hit with the Belgian fans, and securing 2nd place in FIRC is a great result in these conditions. No one doubts David will be a dangerous outsider later this year. Nick West was another new name for his year’s Challenge and drove an intelligent rally, taking no risks to gain 3rd place in FIRC. Better settings should allow higher speeds, meaning a gravel modus is unlikely to be the best option on tarmac. Finally, Alex Taylor had a brillant run in his ever spectacular Forester, easily winning the FIRC and finishing 10th overall; a great result which will gain him even more respect in Belgium. No doubt this Canal Rally will be one of the most talked about FIRC events for a long time. Some crews have serious homework to do, while we expect more new names in Wervik in a fortnight’s time. The competition is certainly hotting up in the Challenge!
Our new sponsors!
You might have noticed some new logos on our site. Both Motorsport Auctions and Corbeau/Luke have decided to join forces with FIRC, this to extend their branding trough mainland Europe.
Vic Lee, Managing Director of Corbeau Seats UK wishes all the UK crews a good championship in Belgium!
Needless to say we are very proud to get this great support and confidence from two major players in the UK motorsport business. Each car will get a sticker upgrade at ORC Canal Rally to make some colourful driving.
Rally Update ORC & Wervik
ORC Canal Rally is about to open the 2015 FIRC season in a couple of weeks now. Bookings have already passed 80 crews, a lot more more will traditionally follow the week before bookings close. We know not everyone is on the netry list yet but this will be solved in the following days. Interesting news is the course car his time. Race2Recovery team will launch their ex-Dakar Bowler as the 000 car! A demo run off course but still a nice one, so we thank the crew fort heir efforts to come over and do this. Royal Marine Grant White will drive the machine, navigated by their only Belgian crew member Stephanie Boddez.
Also Wervik Rally has about 80 entries yet, both events will easily pass the 100 crew margin with a limit of 150. Overbookings are not really expected, but one never knows... so do your efforts to be sure. TBR will open their bookings in the following weeks too, for more infos please contact Hans or Rik our check this site & FB.
FIRC Twin Cup
Not everyone has the time or budget to do a full Challenge, this why we decided to create two small Challenges called Twin Cup, or two cups with two rallies. Twin Cup’ ORBR’ is ORC& TBR, Twin Cup ‘Wervicuda’ is Wervik& Hemicuda. All registered drivers are automatically booked for both, crews wanting to do one or two cups can register separately. All results count, ‘cup’ cups will be handed out at the end of the season.
Golden Poppy Trophy at Wervik Rally
Last year, the organisers established the John Jack Eden Trophy to commemorate the start of WW1 (for more infos just scroll a bit down). This trophy went to Damien Perkins, victim of a big crash earlier at the day, and was handed over to Pat Anderson on the podium, with Damien recovering from the incident. The organisers found out only later that their commemoration was the very first of many in Belgium but the word was spread anyway.
In 2015, Wervik Rally wil hand out a golden commerorative WW1 coin, a limited edition released by The Belgian Currency House. All UK competitors will receive a mail regarding this subject,we ask those who had relatives in our area to let us know. After all fate might decide who will get this medal, like often fate decided on life or death in the trenches, but it would be appropriate to hand the Trophy over to someone with a special connection to Flanders.
Wildcards & free starts update
Our list of free starts has had an update. First of all the wildcards, who go to Allan Smith, Garry Elswood and Martin De Vere-Packford. With two to go, we decided to give one away to a former champion, every title counted for the innocent hand... and Andrew Thomson is the lucky winner! For the final free start, we let the teams choose, so this one can be considered as ‘the driver’s award’. No rules, it can be the one who you think is the quickest, the poorest, the most spectacular, the team that paid the most beers, who helped you out, whatever....
Current standings for the free starts: Tony Clements (2): ORC & Hemicuda, Keith Pettitt (2): ORC, Garry Elswood (1): TBR. We kindly ask Keith, Allan, Andrew& Andrew to mail us their choice.
The Awards Presentation
After a short survey amongst the teams about where and when, the results were again very clear. Nearly everyone wanted the the Ceremony with an FIRC event to avoid an extra crossing.This means we will hand over the cups on the Friday evening before ORC Canal rally. Some preferred the party away from a rally to avoid any sort of stress, but there is a whole day and night between the party and the rally, time enough to recover we guess.
This year’s events
Those who did ORC Canal Rally last year will have a relaxed weekend. The 2015 edition will be an exact copy of 2014, unless road works cause trouble but this looks not be the case (yet). Wervik plans some minor changes, whilst TBR Rally is new for everyone. The format will be 4x4 stages. Where as Wervik is considered as a mini Ypres rally, TBR is the younger nephew of Omloop van Vlaanderen, a well known rally across the Channel. The stages have the same character, the servicepark is even at the same location. Updates on Hemicuda and Kortrijk will follow a bit later on off course.
A Preview to the coming season
It still takes a couple of months to kick off, but we can already look forward to an exciting Challenge right now. The top trio Clements/Taylor/Thomson is ready for a new battle, while we hope David Campling joins in with his great Escort Cosworth. After a sabbatical, we can also look forward to the return of double champion Andy Rowe and maybe have a fifth title candidate with another Evo, to be confirmed... Also the 2WD looks good, with Andy Dawe and Chris Peart, Derek Webb with a Fiesta S1600, Ed Scott on a 206 and John Coulson on the BMW. Another comeback is the one of regular Martin De Vere Packford in the 306. We hope all crews can do a full season. Historic should see the good old batlle between Keith Pettitt, Peter Horsburgh and Mike Smith, also in this class some new drivers are expected however. If we also get some French regulars to do the full Challenge, it all looks very promising! Wait untill bookings for ORC are open, but we can be sure of an exciting season again.
Wildcards and free starts
Thanks to five years of FIRC, we could give double free starts this year. ORC Canal Rally is already full, since both Keith Pettitt and Tony Clements chose this rally. Tony also booked Hemicuda, while both Keith and Andy Dawe still have to pick out their event, this for the champion’s choice.
The wildcard question was something else however. We decided to hand a free start over to regulars who had never won anything yet, despite big or reasonable efforts. A shortlist was quickly made, but some crews lack time or budget for 2015. Still we can already confirm two names: Garry Elswood, who did five years of FIRC and got ’awarded’ last year with five DNF’s on five events. Growing pains on the new Saxo, but maybe a Sub 555 could have been a better option? Allan Smith drives one very regularly but some offs, mechanical troubles and a little fire have not really helped the Penguin team in their title hunt the last couple of years. We still have three crews to make happy, maybe we give one away to one of the champions, we will see later.
Five years of FIRC, a look back
The picture above with the FIRC boy & girl, the 2014 Champs Tony Clements & Mark Andrews and their service crew probably summarises the best of five years rallying in Belgium: a big happy family! Good competition? Sure. Quality stages? Absolutely. Nice hospitality? Yep. Loads of fun? Yes, yes, for sure!! The Flanders Rally Challenge is maybe the smallest of championships on the continent, possibly the biggest non FIA championship around, but certainly the most happy one! Since our kick off in 2010, the vast majority of our guests have become regulars on the Flemish rally scene and have made many new friends. Rally fans constantly ask us which Brits to expect for upcoming events, and top drivers like Alex Taylor, Andy Rowe, Andrew Thomson or Andy Dawe (should we create an Andy Cup in 2015?) generate much respect. Certainly this year’s climax for Clements will not be forgotten...
Several reasons can be found for this success, and it's difficult to pinpoint the main one. The closed public road stages maybe? Could be; although many met the road’s neighbours ditch and stack. It could be the amount of spectators around, who are not only disciplined but also very helpful when mishaps arise. It could also be the drinks that spectators usually consume and inspire our guests. Yes we have loads of breweries, but for some this can be hard to remember after a good night out. Or would it be the human approach to rallying, with scrutineers being kind and helpful, and organisers doing everything possible to keep advancing our beloved sport? Everyone has their own reason, and just a few are mentioned above.
Looking back at five years of action, means for us a constant evolution to make the Challenge run to everyone's satisfaction. In our maiden year, we had no clue what to expect after an intense online campaign, but the quality of the first competitors booking in was a big relief. Quick 4x4x’s driven by Andy Rowe, Andrew Thomson, Guy Anderson or John Morgan; Historic crews with Keith Pettitt, Henri Hardiment, Patrice Wattinne, Les Allfrey and Bill Cook, a load of 2WD cars like those of Martin De Vere- Packford, Eep Borgers, Garry Elswood, Neil Dodd and a division of local French drivers. We even had a German 997 with HW Schewe, and secured almost double the expected entry, which was a great achievement for all of us. The first year also saw some drama with Bill Cook totalling his car and Schewe crashing twice out of two rallies before throwing the towel, but nevertheless the pace was set. Points were given per class only, meaning Andy Rowe, who dominated with 3 wins on 5 finishes, ended equal with Dutchman Eep Borgers as fastest 2WD car with 4 wins but only 4 finishes. How close can it get? Keith Pettitt made it to 3rd overall, winning the unofficial Historic Cup. The most dominant nationality was French however, but apart from Fabrice Wattinne, no team was consistent enough to score a top end result. The best drive of the year was by John Morgan, whose Escort stormed to top position in the overall classification of Oudenburg Rally, just missing victory by 10 secs at the end.
The year after we welcomed a larger Dutch delegation to rival that of the English, with the French drivers being virtually all present again. We said goodbye to the Oudenburg Rally, which was no longer organised, leaving 4 events for the Challenge, and a record breaking entry of 28 foreign crews for ORC Rally. A major change to the regulations meant the Historic Challenge was now run separately from the modern cars. Keith Pettitt won it again despite stiff competition from Les Allfrey, while Andy Rowe continued his pace of the previous year with 3 wins in modern 4x4. Andrew Dawe was a quick newcomer in the newly created 2WD Challenge, but Neil Dodd was the most consistent driver and became 2WD Champion. Victim of the year was undoubtedly Dominic Frattaroli, who totalled his quick Datsun 240Z in ORC; while drive of the year was by Frenchman Henri Bève in the Wervik Rally, winning the overall and the 2WD Challenge, which had not been achieved before.
The third year of FIRC in 2012 saw it restored to a 5 event competition with the addition of newcomer Suikerstreek Rally; rather an atypical event in the North East of Belgium with a unique stage layout. This was not the best year for Andy Rowe having mechanical issues and being unable to complete all the events. Andrew Thomson, who has improved with every rally since he started FIRC, was unbeatable and took his well deserved title; while Les Allfrey also proved his pace and beat Keith Pettitt in Historic. Andrew Dawe took his first 2WD Cup Title and finished a very close second in the general classification despite the presence of the lightning quick 205 of Paul Boxall. This year also saw a very special team award for the Borgers family, with Eep finishing 4th overall, son Marcel 5th and girlfriend Marrie 6th. Quite a family, the Borgerses...
The now well-oiled FIRC machine continued with major changes to the 2013 Challenge layout. Taking into account the numerous suggestions made by the competitors in a large survey, we abolished the start bonus and reduced the points system to 3 categories only: modern 4x4, 2WD and Historic. Another step forward for many was the new registration system, where only exclusive FIRC crews could score points; meaning no guest drivers or one shots could take points away from the regulars. The number of ‘official’ FIRC crews dropped a little as a result, but this system was and is considered to be much fairer by the regulars. Also interestingly, the newly created London Rally for Heroes created a link to the Belgian rallyscene and further exposed the FIRC to the UK. Thought was given to create a second mini Challenge for Belgian crews, a well supported idea across the Channel too. Back in Flanders Fields, both Rowe and Thomson took a sabbatical, but they were replaced by quite a spectacular newcomer: Alex Taylor in the original Subaru Forester. After a very exciting season, Alex took the title, directly followed by Andy Egger and Andy Dawe who saw their efforts for the 2WD title ending on an equal points score, followed by Boxall who did not complete all the events. Egger had one finish more and took the title, quite a surprise to many with a humble Vauxhall Nova, but driving raging mad helps. The Historic title this time went to Pat Anderson in his first full season despite his youthful age of 75 (well, it is the Historic!!), while Frenchman Arnaud Choquet managed to win overall and 2WD in ORC Rally, driving a great M3, Andy Dawe saved the English honours by doing exactly the same in an extremely competitive Kortrijk Rally later on.
Jubilee year 2014 got off to as poor start, as the Suikerstreek Rally which only joined FIRC for two years withdrew from the Flemish calendar; reducing the Challenge to 4 events once again. No more London Rally too, goodbye future plans....With the first 4 Challenges all being decided in the very last event, this year would be very different. With 4x4 title rivals Clements, Taylor and Thomson all showing the same pace in every rally, it was eventually Tony Clements who took it all after a perfect season, never seen before in FIRC. If you don’t crash, don’t spin, don’t puncture and don’t have mechanical problems you can go a whole end. However, if you do, then it’s another story like in 2WD class, where rivals Peart an Dawe both had their moments in almost every rally; with Dawe winning his 2nd 2WD title with a minimal points difference after a dramatic season. Keith Pettitt put all affairs in order and took his 3rd Historic title, making the man King of History in Flanders despite competition from Smith and Horsburgh. After 5 years of doing almost all the events neither regulars like Garry Elswood nor Allan Smith took a cup, but both drivers didn’t seem too bothered after the great fun they have had on the Flemish roads. We also missed Paul Boxall and Guy Anderson, and are sure they could have played a big role in the Challenge.
The future looks very good for FIRC. After being present several times at HRCR Gaydon, Rally Day and Goodwood FOS, and with the support of the IRDC, the Challenge is an established name in the rally scene. Our website takes an average of 13,000 hits per year, quite interesting figures... All the regulars are expected back at the start of the 6th season, and we have the TBR rally to restore the much loved 5 event format. We feel a renewed interest from the French rally scene and an ever growing public interest in the fortunes of the FIRC crews, so let’s go for another 5 years. If the economy does it's bit, then we can only grow bigger. A heartfelt thank you to all the drivers, codrivers, servicemen, friends, families, sponsors and organisers who made this great adventure possible! Bring on 2015!!
Some bits for 2015
For the following season, we can already confirm an identical layout, with ORC Canal Rally planned on 30/31 May and Kortrijk Rally on 28/29 November. The full calendar will be published in January, but both Wervik and Hemicuda Rally should be scheduled around the same dates as this year. A fifth event could be added, there might also be some changes on the licensing system but for more details we have to await the meetings with RACB and VAS. We also look forward to the entries for the new Historic class for cars op to ‘91, and finally we will fix a date for the prize giving ceremony in spring. To be continued...
Clements scores ‘fourtrick’ in Kortrijk
What a final! With 3 WRCs, 6 R5s, 5 Porsches and a fleet of Evos en GTs, the 2014 season couldn’t dream of a better ending. A very tight battle for the top ten positions under a sunny blue sky made the picture complete. Since the title battle got decided in Hemicuda, several crews decided not to make the extra crossing to save on budget for next year, whilst mechanical headaches forced a couple of teams to stay in their workshop. The most important withdrawal was the one of Chris Peart, the only remaining driver able to beat Andy Dawe for the 2WD Cup. Late bookers stood no chance too: over 180 entries in two days for 130 starts, later extended to 150. With all the champions now known, the fight for a good overall finish was the main goal for those who were present.
Alex Taylor made a rocket start on the opening show stage on Saturday by setting a 15th time overall, a better result was ruined by a slower car blocking the Forester for over a mile. Over 2000 spectators enjoyed Frosty’s sideways speed however. The opening stage on Sunday was finished as 12th overall, until the third stage was not finished... A tricky bend and a deep ditch ended the hunt for top ten brutally, quite a lot of damage on the Subaru will make Alex know what to do this winter, the Belgian fans sincerely hope to see the man and the car back next year. 2014 Champion Clements decided to take a careful start on the tricky stages and finally clinched a 20th overall position, very well done given the massive horsepower present at the start. The trouble free run of Tony and Mark also resulted in a never seen achievement in five years of FIRC: a crew that wins all the events! A truly unique performance that will be hard to beat the following years. Finally Les Allfrey had his last run of the season too, finishing halfway in the Historic field. Next year, Les will focus on some home events with a new car, one rival ‘less’ for Historic FIRC then. After this hugely successfull Kortrijk Rally, we can look back at another great FIRC season and take some time to refuel and prepare next year’s events. We wish everyone a great end and beginning of the year, and also all the best in preparing, (re)building or buying rally machinery. See you in 2015!
Hattricks and champions at Hemicuda
We already had some important news before the start of the event. Peter Horsburgh decided to end his quest for the Historic title, regular Allan Smith couldn’t make it to the event while Alex Taylor had to throw the towel with a broken Subaru after a home event the weekend before, which reduced the title battle to only two remaining rivals: Evo men Tony Clements and Andrew Thomson. The former could ‘relax’ with two consecutive wins, while the latter desperately needed a victory to keep some small hopes remaining on a second title. The pace was great, both crews had their moments, but still no difference was made on stage. Only one sec divided both teams at the start of the last leg, but as we all know life isn’t fair. Andy Thomson and navi Richard Vincent were betrayed by an alternator refusing all duties on the third to last stage, leaving both very disappointed after quite an unlucky season so far. This anticlimax finally released all pressure from Tony Clements and Mark Andrews, who claimed their very first Challenge title in their first full season. With three wins in three events, they had a perfect season so far, many congratulations! Eighth overall is a neat result too, needless to say the crew was more than happy.
More congratulations for some smiling faces in a red Escort, where Keith Pettitt and James McCulloughs copied the results of the red Evo (again), taking their third consecutive win in the season resulting in their third FIRC Historic title. This makes them the most succesfull FIRC crew now, beating double champion Andy Rowe. Could this motivate Andy to a comeback next year? Second position went to regular Les Allfrey, while Mike Smith claimed third place after quite an eventful weekend, with the Avenger breaking down four times on and off stage, and doing it a fifth time before the final run on the podium. The unfortunate crew was classified anyway, so everyone happy after a day of hard work and loads of stress, some call this a hobby.
The only remaining title to be decided is the 2WD one. Andrew Dawe made a very quick start, even beating the Evo’s on the first stages, but all the efforts were for nothing after a broken break disc was discovered at service. Chris Peart couldn’t take any advantage of this situation, his Astra was also parked at service with an alternator on strike. This meant FIRC regular Garry Elswood could grab his first and much deserved win in the Challenge... hadn’t a broken gearbox mount decided otherwise! In the fitfth year of FIRC, this was his fifth start and fifth DNF of the season, we should invent a special award for Garry and ask 555 for sponsorship.
Only three of the seven registered FIRC crews reached the final podium, also guest driver David Campling in the magnificent Escort Cosworth fell victim to one of the many ditches, without damage however, let’s call it a typical Belgian debut. Certainly a car and a crew we hope to meet again in 2015, in the mean time we have 6h of Kortrijk first. Massively overbooked already, there is no more chance to register but all the main player will be there, so we look forward to finish off the season in big style, see you in November!
6 Hours of Kortrijk: book now!
preview Hemicuda Rally
One month to go for the start of the second season half, and Hemicuda rally already promises to be a big hit. Thanks to the efforts of the organisers, the number of SS has doubled, meaning the 5x2 schedule of the last years has been changed to 3x4. Two of the stages are brand new, meaning many crews are waiting to discover them. Challengewise we look forward to an excellent battle in every class, no one can afford a DNF with only two remaining rallies this year. There is no limit to the number of entries on Hemicuda, so we look forward to a great event!
Clements takes epic Wervik Rally
Nobody doubted Wervik Rally would give the same thrill we saw before in ORC Rally. Nearly 30 international teams booked in, including French top driver Laurent Bayard being the main favourite for overall victory, and all the FIRC regulars very much ready for some good action. Only Allan Smith had to cancel his entry, the Subaru did not get repaired in time after his moment in ORC Rally. Still, the opening leg did not exactly give the fight for seconds everyone expected. Both Andy Thomson and Alex Taylor took a flying start, but both lost time with some scary moments and a spin for Taylor. Tony Clements could have taken advantage of all this, but lost even more time with a broken rim on SS2, followed by a puncture on SS3 half stage. This meant the top six of the Challenge drivers, 2WD’s included, were all very close together after two legs, so some work had to be done. However, the field soon got startled with lesser news from Damien Perkins who hit a phone stack at high speed. Despite a totalled car, Damien only suffered some painful ribs and navi Guido Stroobant a broken leg. Things could have been a lot worse given the carnage, FIRC hopes the crew recovers well from this nasty incident. When the rally went back to pace, Andy Thomson had the most comfortable position leading the pack, followed by Taylor who had to calm things a bit down with a broken engine mount, hoping to resist to a storming Clements doing all he could to make up the lost time. However, the last two stages would deliver some serious drama, when Thomson lost time with a puncture, putting him next to Alex Taylor... who then lost it all by missing a loop on the last stage, a serious time penalty dropped the Frosty squad way down. Hard to believe but more bad luck was yet to come when Thomson saw his diff go on the very last stage, so a more than surprised Clements took his second consecutive win. A well granted victory still, after an eventful day on full attack modus. Would Tony do a hat trick in Hemicuda?
Wervik Rally was also one leg too long for Chris Peart, who gave Andy Dawe some good competition during the whole day. Mechanical issues stopped the Astra on the second to last stage, so Dawe took victory with FIRC newcomers David Town and Ben Greenfield finishing second 2WD on their Belgian debut, after a nice duel with guest driver Cunnington. Needless to say the competition in 2WD gets really interesting now, with 3 crews having one result and two rallies to go! Historic class looked promising too, but FIRC regular Hardiment did not end leg one with a Mini refusing all duties. Peter Horsburgh and Keith Pettitt had a battle all day long, but a straight trough from Horsburgh ended his attacks with Challenge points in mind. Pat Anderson made it to third, but the rest of his season is unsure due to a forthcoming surgery and the expected recovery. Certainly worth mentioning is the overall victory of French guest driver Laurent Bayard, who is the first non Belgian able to win Wervik Rally ever, while the John Jack Eden Trophy was dedicated to Damien Perkins after his unpleasant adventure earlier in the day. His Trophy got collected by Pat Anderson who celebrated his 76th birthday on the podium, accompanied with two bag pipe players performing the Australian anthem. FIRC will now head to Goodwood Festival of Speed, thanks to the efforts of the International Rally Drivers Club. Join us at the Rally Stage, some Belgian Beers will be shipped over for the occasion. For those who cannot make it, enjoy the summer and see you all back in a couple of months!
John Jack Eden Trophy in Wervik Rally
To do their bit in commemorating the Centenary, Wervik Rally Organisation has decided to establish a special trophy for UK teams the following 4 years, named after a soldier of the Great War. This Trophy will be given to a UK team of choice, decided after the rally by the organisers. The 2014 Trophy is dedicated to Lieutenant John Jack Eden, the brother of Sir Anthony Eden, prime minister from 1955 on.
Being on a patrol early morning on October 17th 1914, the platoon were attacked by a German division. John Jack Eden died instantly near the small village of Kruiseke and got buried on the spot. When his sister Marjorie visited the area after the Great War had ended, she couldn’t find the grave and only found out later the body was moved to Larch Wood Cemetery nearby. To commemorate her brother and the men who had fallen, she wanted a wooden cross to be placed near the church of Kruiseke. But being a very small town, Kruiseke did not have a church..., however thanks to a financial donation of the Eden family, a small chapel got erected in 1928, followed later on by a modest church in the village centre. The first ceremony was held on March 19th 1929. The church is still there and got a white stone Memory Plate in 1988, inaugurated by John Eden (the Lieutenant’s cousin) and Clarisa Churchill (Sir Anthony Eden’s widow and niece of Winston Churchill). The Wervik area roughly made part of the Plugstreet Wood area, where also Winston Churchill and a certain Adolf H. served, the last one got wounded and treated in the nearby village of Linselles, just across the French border near Wervik. Being occupied by the Germans, the whole area suffered constant attacks and suffered severe bombing damage. The St. Medardus Church of Wervik nearby the rally centre was used as a German headquarter including a hospital facility and horse stables, the church tower was used as an observation post.
This story (amongst many more) was written down by Wervik Rally organiser Filiep Forrest’s father, inspired on the stories being told by his father, who served in the Great War as a member of the Belgian Army.
Name: EDEN, JOHN
Nationality: United Kingdom
Regiment/Service: 12th (Prince of Wales's Royal) Lancers
Date of Death: 17/10/1914
Additional information: Son of Sir William and Lady Sybil Frances Eden, of Windlestone Hall, Ferryhill, Co. Durham. Older brother of Anthony Eden, Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1955 to 1957.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: IV. D. 6.
Cemetery: LARCH WOOD (RAILWAY CUTTING) CEMETERY
Clements claims Canal Rally
The kick-off for our Jubilee year couldn’t be better. A total of 16 entries, with some new names, gave the best hopes for a great rally. Tony Clements, who decided to do the full series this year after some guest rallies in 2013, took the quickest start and eventually led from start to finish. Sounds like an easy win, but Alex Taylor and Andrew Thomson chased the Evo the whole rally within a handfull of secs. Clements squeezed everything out of his car the last leg, just to win with some 20” in front of Taylor and his occasional Belgian navi Frank Werner, directly followed by Andrew Thomson on...1”! This top 3 finished respectively on 18th, 22 and 23th position overall. Allan Smith could have made it to 4th FIRC, but a puncture led the Subaru stuck in a Flanders Field on the second to last stage. FIRC newcomer Damien Perkins, Australian (!) but Brussels based, never got that far. A broken diff forced him to leave the rally after SS2. Even more havoc in the 2WD class, where favourite Andrew Dawe did not finish stage 1 due to a broken driveshaft. Later on also Neil Dodd, guest driver this year, and Garry Elswood had to park their car with mechanical issues. This layed the road wide open for newcomer Chris Peart, who not only took victory in his first FIRC event, but also managed to finish as only 2WD drive car. Guest driver David Coulson eventually finished second, but only did ORC as a one-off and scored no points. We look forward to their plans for a full 2015 series, since the pace is obviously there.
The Historic division had its drama too. Peter Horsburgh lost 10’ on stage 2 with electrical issues but had a troublefree run afterwards. Newcomer Mike Smith was on his way for a good result too but saw his horses swapped into donkeys halfway the rally and had to throw the towel, followed shortly afterwards by 2013 Champion Pat Anderson with an alternator refusing all duty. All this gave double champion Keith Pettitt a rather relaxed run to the finish, taking victory in ORC after a coupe of less successfull events the years before. Peter Horsburgh lost too much time to fight back but took important points for the championship ending 2nd FIRC Historic.
Overall victory was for Patrick Snijers, followed on 1’ by local men Lefevere who too 2nd and Viaene, who made his debut in the brand new Porsche 997. Between the 140 teams, we saw more 997’s and WRC’s, amongst the traditional fleet of Evo’s and BMW’s. Rallying is more alive than ever in Belgium! The next FIRC event, Wervik Rally in a fortnight, can also count on an impressive entry list, including several R5 cars coming to prepare Ypres rally the week after. No doubt the FIRC line up will be good too, with the occasional guest teams doing this great event and the expected battle between the top drivers in all three classes. Close racing ahead!
With some two weeks to go, FIRC 2014 will kick off at ORC Canal Rally. The layout is identical to 2013, so nobody doubts our regulars will go even quicker than last year. Plans for a new stage were cancelled due to road works, a neverending story... A fortnight later we hope to see everyone back for the 40th edition of Wervik Rally, another anniversary this year. This rally will see a very different itinerary compared with previous years. SS Wervik only has minor changes, but SS Geluwe and SS Kruiseke will be entirely new. Wervik Rally will also offer a special cup for British crews to do their part in commemorating WW1, more news later.
After the summer break, we will be back for Hemicuda Rally, where the organisers have good hopes on returning to a three stages layout again, after a couple of years of Short Rally with only two stages. This might also affect the schedule of the rally in its well-known format, but it is still a bit early to get all the details. The same can be said from 6hrs of Kortrijk, where the organisers undoubtedly will finetune the very successful maiden edition of 2013. However, with some new names on the 2014 Challenge, we look, forward to have an excellent battle again, not to forget the great atmosphere afterwards!
5 years of FIRC: double free starts to win
To celebrate our jubilee year, each organiser will give two free starts for 2015. Two for the Champion, both one for Historic and 2WD Challenge, so four in total since Suikerstreek Rally will not be organised this year. This means we have four extra wildcards for 2015, those will be given to regular crews who never managed to win anything the last couple of years, despite all their brave efforts.
points system update
During last year’s season, we heard many suggestions for a further update. We asked everyone to sum up their ideas during the winter break, over two thirds of our regular crews responded to this survey (thank you all!!), luckily all the noses were pointed more or less in the same direction. Here are the most important results:
- most crews preferred to ban the regularity bonus of x1.2, x1.3,... and focus on the results per rally. So from 2014 on, this bonus is gone which means that teams who can not enter all the events stand a better chance in the championship.
- everyone thought that the points system per class + overall bonus was far too complicated. This system is revised too, points will be given in three classes only: modern 4x4, modern 2WD and Historic + overall bonus for the modern cars. This brings the fast 2WD’s even closer to the 4x4’s.
- everyone supported the idea of points for registered teams only, so this system will be kept at the same fee.
- a joker event (double points on a rally of choice) or a scratch result were both rejected, mainly because FIRC 2014 will count four events. This means a very good or very bad points score in one event can ruin the whole season.
- for the new 2014 Team Challenge, the two best results per team will be nominated. We have to know who formes which team before ORC, so there is plenty of time left. Each team can swich nominated cars per event, again, let us know in time...
Needless to say all the above has been simulated on the results of the past years. The top three per categorie stayed in any case the same, only the points differences were a lot smaller. This means we look forward to an even more tense Challenge in 2014. The full list of modifications will be published soon in the regulations, those who have particular questions, please refer to Ward.
31/5-01/6: ORC Canal Rally
13-14/6: Geko Wervik Rally
11-12/10: Hemicuda Rally
22-23/11: 6 uren van Kortrijk
Next year is jubilee year : five years of FIRC! When we look back at the past four years, we can bring nothing but positive news. A steady growth in competitors resulted in big interest for certain events, with often more than twenty crews at the start. A nice evolution the last couple of years is the steady growth in guest drivers who enjoy one or two events and have very positive comments afterwards, not only about the rally itself but certainly about the great atmosphere around. The links with the Belgian rally scene have clearly been well made, with many new friendships as a result. The respect for the international crews is big, we just wait for the first FIRC couple now. Despite the Challenge mainly being an Anglo-Dutch association, we get more and more demand from French and recently even German teams, the ultimate proof that our Challenge concept is a winning formula. Who needs big machines if one can have loads of friends instead, some positive rivalry at the stages included?
The 2014 Calendar is ready too, we just wait on more news from Suikerstreek Rally. Further on we expect few changes to the presented dates. Wervik Rally will get a makeover next year, Kortrijk also plans an evolution on their successful debut. ORC and Hemicuda will remain largely unchanged. Needless to say we hope to welcome you all again for our fifth birthday next year!
The 2013 winners:
FIRC champions: Alex Taylor – Mike Herrington (UK)
Historic champions: Pat Anderson – Graham Tuer (UK)
2WD Challenge winners: Andy Egger – Val Thompson (UK)
Codrivers champion: Val Thompson (UK)
Best team: Borgers Rallysport (NL)
Best ladies team: Marrie Borgers – Wea Smilde (NL)
Best presented car: Arnaud Choquet - BMW M3 e30 (F)
Dawe and Taylor win in Kortrijk
Many expected this rally to be the success of the year, and proof was given in booking: a full house in three days, never seen before! All the Challenge contenders booked early however, so the battle for the two remaining titles promised to be quite lively. Rain and mud were well presented in and around Kortrijk, making the stages extremely slippery. The FIRC crews kept their heads cool however, and made it to a splendid final.
Maybe the most worried driver all day was Alex Taylor, who only had to finish to be sure of the title, but suffered from clutch problems from stage one, an oil leak and electrical problems didn’t really help either. In the mean time, Andy Dawe found a very good pace and led FIRC from start to finish, even beating several local 4x4’s, needless to say the champagne tasted very good on the podium. A double win is very rare, Andy is only the third driver to achieve this result. Andrew Egger attacked the whole event in an ultimate attempt to catch the title on Taylor, but finally got stranded in second place after having led the Challenge the second half of the season. Andy was rewarded with the 2WD cup title however, whilst navigator Val Thomson took the codriver championship, not bad for a little Nova and his very happy crew. Gavin Smith and Richard Vincent finally finished as fourth FIRC crew after a smooth run.
The overall title went to Alex Taylor, finishing 2nd, whose last rally of the season summarised more or less his eventful season including an off, an event without pacenotes and now without clutch. The least we can say is that this title is very well deserved, and we can be sure to see Frosty back on our roads next year.
Many congratulations to all the winners , now we prepare for 2014 where FIRC will celebrate his 5th birthday, time goes fast!
Preview 6 hours of Kortrijk
The final round of FIRC 2013 will be very interesting, despite only 8 international teams were able to enter this massively popular event, fully booked in less than 4 days with 130 crews on the entry list and a couple of dozens on the waiting list. The Historic boys already ended their season with Pat Anderson as the 2013 Historic Champion, now we have to wait who will catch the overall title and the 2WD cup. The battle will be decided between Alex Taylor, Andy Egger and Andrew Dawe. Online footage of the stages are online, as well as the entry list, see you all soon for the last rally this year. On Saturday Eve, we all gather for a pint, maybe we will need this to prepare for a rally day that announces itself to be very cold and wet.
6 Hours of Kortrijk: book early!
FIRC at Rally Day
This year, the Challenge will be represented by Alex Taylor at Castle Combe. We thank the Frosty squad for the effort and hope they have a nice day out with Challenge regulars Paul Boxall, Theresa Butler and Gary&Carol Lomas who announced their presence too.
Taylor takes two at Hemicuda
With Omloop van Vlaanderen the weekend before, the Béthune rally on the same date and Hellendoorn the weekend after, Hemicuda was squeezed in between too many events . The 2013 title will certainly go to the UK again without Dutch or French crews at the start. Alex Taylor had the best car for the tricky stages and drove a consistant rally, gently getting to grips with his new, much lighter Forester, finishing 9th overall. Andy Dawe won the 2WD Cup as expected and was very happy his Sunny ran like a Swiss clock the whole day. Challenge leader Egger came 3rd FIRC driver and still stands a very good chance on winning the Challenge and/or the 2WD cup. Allan Smith finished right behind Egger after an interesting day in and around Koekelare. Less luck for Gavin Smith who went off early in the morning, meaning a lesser Challenge points score for codriver Richard Vincent, leaving Val Thomson unbeatable now. Historic leader and 2013 champion Pat Anderson didn’t have his best event either making quite a crash on the opening leg, putting the road to victory wide open for Keith Pettitt, who took his second win in a row.
Preview Hemicuda Rally
Taylor takes first win at Suikerstreek
Some unexpected withdrawals promised Suikerstreek to be a very interesting rally. French topdriver Choquet couldn’t make it due to missing parts to repair his M3 after the Wervik damage, so teammate Triplet decided not to enter too, leaving both very disappointed regarding their Challenge standings. Both Allan Smith and Martin De Vere-Packford were also forced to stay home, so Alex Taylor was the top favourite regarding the earlier announced abscence of Rowe and Thomson. First leader however was Paul Boxall, who even stormed his 205 in the top five overall. Andrew Dawe launched the big attack too, leaving the Frosty crew with some big questions. Blocked brake pads caused a lack of top speed, once this problem sorted Alex pushed very hard to finally clinch his first FIRC win, closely followed by Andrew Dawe who took 2WD victory only secs before a very disappointed Boxall. This trio also took an amazing 8,9 and 10th overall, with only 21 secs in between, closely followed by Dutch guest driver Verbaas. Especially the pace of Dawe and Boxall were absolutely amazing, leaving many quicker Belgian cars behind them (really no reason to be disappointed Paul!!). A bit further down, we find Eep and Marrie Borgers who take much needed Challenge points. Last FIRC position went surprisingly to Andy Egger, who set some great stage times but then seriously went off into a potato field. Despite many helping hands, it took almost half an hour before the Nova was dug out and put on the road again, impossible to make up such a loss of time. With three different winners on three events, the 2013 Challenge couldn’t be more exciting, also the 2WD battle is extremely close now.
The Historic squad finally saw Keith Pettitt back in action after severe engine troubles earlier this year. Keith took a much deserved win before Pat Anderson, who had nothing to do more than finish 2nd and grab a massive points score again. In the abscence of Peter Horsburgh who couldn’t repair his Mini in time after the Wervik crash, Pat looks to be virtually unbeatable in the Historic standings now. However the last word hasn’t been said for the runner up position. Next meeting in September, in the mean time we wish everyone a very happy holiday!
preview Rallyshort Suikerstreek
King Rowe returns in Wervik
With 114 cars and no less than 27 FIRC crews on the entry list, everyone looked forward to some great battles. Unfortunately, things went badly wrong very early. It all started disastrous for Alex Taylor on Friday, a pretty chaotic day ruined his recce plans and the Frosty crew started without any pacenotes, actually without any clue on Saturday. Things got even worse for Frenchman Triplet, who did not even make the start of the first stage due to an overheating engine, an emergency intervention could not solve the problem. Half an hour later, Didier was joined by his teammate and Challenge leader Choquet who suffered from a damaged front suspension and lost his front left wheel. The only remaining action was the fight between Wervik rookies Andy Egger and Tim Daltry, who made his debut to Belgian soil. Tim had an excellent rally and finished a couple of secs before Egger who threw his Nova around every corner again, much appreciated by the spectators. Tim is not registered however, so Andy took the 2WD Cup. Eep Borgers and Andy Dawe, who was forced to enter the Seat again due to a broken Nissan gearbox in ORC, both took a steady run and scored important Challenge points after their issues in the opening event. Less luck for John Wood, for the occasion navigated by Richard Vincent. The Subaru gearbox broke halfway the rally, also Subaru collegue Allan Smith suffered from the same problem but could still make it to the end, the first time Allan got to the finish in Wervik after three less successfull attempts. In front of the rally, no one could even get close to Andy Rowe. FIRC victory has probably never been easier for Andy and Cat, who decided to take their chances on the overall classification and eventually took a stunning 5th in front of many surprised Belgians, quite often in quicker cars... Second FIRC position was for Tony Clements who reappeared after a couple of years of inactivity and proved he still has the skills, 3rd was for Alex Taylor who made a massive progress on the day, even putting Frosty on 16th overall. Really great given the circumstances!
In Historic division, 2012 champ Alfrey immediately set the pace, but was closely followed by Peter Horsburgh who quickly adapted to the difficult stages. However, Peter got a bit overenthusiast and ditched the Mini, even putting the car on its roof. Luckily the spectators could (litterally) take the ligtweight car out and put it on the road again. Despite 12’ lost, Peter still finished the rally. But to finish first, you first have to finish, Less luck for Les on that topic, who made a mistake at the last leg and gave FIRC victory away to Pat Anderson! A fantastic present for Pat, who celebrated his 75th birthday! He also shares Historic lead now with Peter Horsburgh, whilst some modern guys made op some good Challenge points too, thanks to the new point system for registered teams. Suikerstreek will be very interesting...
Wervik & Suikerstreek news
On the Wervik Rally site, you can find onboard images from all the stages, this will allow you to make an excellent preparation. Bookings are rushing in now, so do not hesitate too long to enter. Regs for Suikerstreek Rally are also online on their site, the rally has a brand new stage this year. We are currently looking for a hotel deal to fit all interested FIRC crews in the same spot, and maybe have a little party on Saturday. More news soon.
Rookies dominate ORC Canal Rally
Despite a couple of last minute redrawals, the Jim Clark Rally and Epynt in the UK and ELE in Holland, we still got 17 crews at the start at Oostrozebeke. From the first stage on, the battle promised to be very interesting with double champion Andy Rowe, Andy Dawe in the improved Sunny kitcar, Paul Boxall in his brandnew 205, defending champion Andrew Thomson and newcomer Alex Taylor in the exclusive Forester all finishing within seconds. The second stage already made a very early shift however, Dawe’s gearbox broke and Taylor made a somewhat traditional entry in Flanders when ditching in one of the 1000 gravelcorners. Thomson found inspiration in this and did exactly the same later on, which left us only with a battle between a rather relaxed Rowe and Boxall who pushed his 205 on the limit on every corner on every stage, trying to beat the Evo. No one actually expected a return from a certain Arnaud Choquet in his smart M3, who took a cautious start and seemed to settle for third. The fast Frenchmen, who made his debut in ORC for a full FIRC this year, steadily put his rythm higher each leg and squeezed everything out of his beemer on the final stages, resulting in an overall win with only 10 secs in front of Andy Rowe, while Boxall took a much deserved 3rd overall, unfortunately just not enough to catch 2WD victory which also went to Choquet.
It is only the second time a crew takes both the overall FIRC win and the 2WD cup, this was done before in 2011 in Wervik by Henri Bève, French too. It looks like the French take all or nothing, but we can already be sure that Choquet will be a serious contender for the 2013 Challenge, doing all the events. A bit further down the field, we find Andy Egger who never had a really good chance to defend his chances due to shifting problems. Andy ended just in front of Allan Smith however, who had the scare of his life when he spun around at top speed early in the rally, despite this action he still ended in front of Didier Triplet, Choquet’s teammate in an identical M3 who made his reappearance in rallying after three years of inactivity. Dutch regular Borgers crashed his car with the finish in sight, also Martin De Vere-Packford didn’t see the podium despite a rebuilt car.
Historic was full rookie battle with Peter Horsburgh against maybe the oldest rookie in the world Pat Anderson. Without too many problems, both teams had a good rally and Peter already has his first win in his first FIRC event. Keith Pettitt will be back at Wervik though, after his engine blew days before the event and had to cancel his entry, also champion Les Allfrey will make his reappearance in two weeks. FIRC 2013 certainly looks to be very tense again!
IRDC Nations Cup
FIRC is proud to announce the 2013 Nations Cup, an initiative supported by the International Rally Drivers Club. The Britons look to have the best chances since they outnumber the other nationalities, but only the 3 best results per country count, so one never knows....
Preview ORC Canal Rally!
This season’s opener promises nothing but good. Being fully booked, we can look forward to a great battle between our regulars who are all there again. However, champion Thomson and his quick collegues Rowe, Dawe en Borghers could get some stiff competition from a certain Alex Taylor in his original Subaru Forester gr.A. Alex made an easy 10th at Monteberg and is determined to set some powerful results this year. Another promising newcomer is Frenchman Arnaud Choquet in his BMW M3 E30, who already proved his speed in Staden two years ago and also does a full FIRC season now. From the same country comes Monsieur Triplet with a similar car. Further up north, Dutchman Van Middendorp is back, in the company of Van Vreede on a same car. In the historic division, Peter Horsburgh is new to FIRC and has to defend the UK Mini pride and try to beat double champion Pettitt, in the abscence of Les Allfrey who will back in Wervik.
The battle for the general positions will fierce too, with both ex-winners Lietaer (Sub WRC) and Belgium’s fastest lady Debackere (Focus WRC), who will be challenged by local men Cornelis (Sub WRC), Soenens (Fiesta WRC), Braeckevelt (M3), Claerhout (Porsche 997) or Bal (Evo X). The organisers are also very proud to have national stars Freddy Loix (E36 M3) and Patrick Snijers (BMW 1M) at the start, along with the traditional fleet of M3’s and other Evos.
Full house again for ORC Canal Rally!
Last call for the UK teams who want to register for the 1st FIRC round. The event has already noted over 100 bookings, so do not hesitate to enter if you want te be sure to start. It looks like the rally will be overbooked (again) by the end of next week.
We still have an end to go before our first event kicks off, but the first newsfacts are coming in. Important to know is that newcomer 6 hours of Kortrijk has a new date: November 24th. The other events keep their date, so the 2013 calendar is confirmed now. ORC Canal Rally returns to a ’one day’ format, the SSS will no longer be organised in 2013. It was really cool for the crowds, but required a big effort from the organisation without a real added value for the competitors. The 4x3 stages will be as good as identical to the 2011 edition. Round two, GEKO Wervik Rally will have the same schedule, while also Suikerstreek Rally keeps the ‘short’ format with 5x2 stages. Hemicuda Rally is working on their stage plans yet, but we can already confirm that FRC-contact Jan Verschaeve will have the same function in the 6 hours of Kortrijk, so at least you will have a familiar face to respond to your questions. We are happy to announce that interest in FRC 2013 is remarkably big. If all plans get realised, we can look forward to an impressive international delegation this year.
*UPDATE* Hemicuda Rally changed dates. The new date is September 15th in stead of 29th!
The technical regulations remain unchanged for this new season, but new to FRC 2013 is the VAS-contribution of 80.00 euros per (co)driver per FRC-season. This is due to the increasing number of (inter)national teams who take part in VAS-events. The federation misses a lot of licensing rights this way, earlier negociations with RACB failed. This contribution, to be paid on any FRC event to VAS, will then automatically count as an FRC-registration, so one-shots can no longer grab points from the FRC regulars. The VAS-contribution for one single rally will be 55.00 euros for all none VAS drivers, so 80.00 euros for five events is a bargain, FRC thanks VAS for this exception. We also revised our points system slightly, a start will get a better reward, resulting in more points for the regulars. A non-finish will cost you less. More info about this with Ward.
provisional fixtures 2013
The FRC calendar 2013 is online now, please note the dates are provisional and have to be confirmed the following weeks by VAS. Although we do not expectect major changes, some dates might change. If this happens, you will be informed asap. We have five rallies again for the new season, with a great newcomer: the ‘6 hours of Kortrijk’. This legendary rally was organised in the 70’s and 80’s, and had a serious reputation within the rallyscene, due to the very difficult stages, tricky, hilly and superfast. The city of Kortrijk has a new mayor new, Vincent Van Quickenborne. Not only a motorsport fanatic, but also an occasional codriver alongside local star Tuur Vandenabeele. Needless to say the organisers can’t wait to kick off this great new event. More news about the organisation will be online in the following months, but we can already confirm the rally will have a compact style similar to the other FRC events.
FRC Party & Award Cermony 2012 in Ypres,
As already mentioned, we welcome all of you for our annual FRC Party on November 24th . To make things easy, we meet in “De Klepper”, the same Hall as we did last year, here you will find a link to the location. De Klepper is only a 10’ walk from Ypres town centre, also easily accessible by car for those who stay out of the centre, with a large parking. Avoid the Menin Gate area, blocked for road works. Look forward to self made food again, this year we will serve you Cassoulet, traditional Flemish stew, of course our local vegetable stew will be back, all made fresh on the day. Afterwards a coffeetable, but we also proudly present a wide selection of special Belgian beers, accompanied by local cheeses. All the beers can be tasted and bought on the spot. As usual, co(drivers) enjoy for free, guests pay 20 euro pp. Do not wait too long to book, since we already have over 50 reservations now. We look forward to see all of you back soon!
Thomson wins Hemicudan thriller
The 2012 final started off in the worst possible conditions. Heavy rain the week before the rally turned the stages into ice skating rings, already resulting in some havoc during recce. The Sun on Sunday was only a good fact for the spectators. All teams started rather careful given the very tricky conditions, but still we had an early victim. Fabrice Wattinne kept his Saab on the road, but saw his his brake fluid go on the podium after the first leg. 2012 is clearly not the best season for our French regular. This meant the Historic battle had to be fought out between the remaining UK crews of Allfrey, Petitt and Lomas. Gary decided not to interfere in the fight for victory and keep the TR7 in showroom condition, it worked very well and made the crew 3rd FRC historic. Keith Pettitt and Les Allfrey both had a Challenge plan before the start, but then decided to forget about it after the first couple of stages and simply go for the pace. After a superb bit of rallying, Keith finally won FRC Historic class after quite an unlucky season, while Les took the FRC Historic title despite some scary moments with a stuck throttle cable. Very well done in the small Mini, even without doing the full season! Congratulations!
The biggest fight was expected with the modern machinery with three Champ candidates, and what a final we got! Dutch challenger Eep Borgers was very motivated to go flat out, but the car decided otherwise. Balance on the Corsa Max is a known issue with the team, and this sadly got very clear on the mudbath in the morning. No grip at all resulted specifically in a meeting with an electricity pole, and generally with some very modest times for the Dutch crew, sliding all over the place and losing every chance on winning FRC 2012. But the team is building a brand new Corsa for next season, so some people will be warned. With Eep way back, the title battle got concentrated between Andrew & Andrew: Thomson in the Focus and Dawe finally in the rebuilt Sunny. The Focus 4x4 looked to be the best car in the slippery conditions, but the lighter Nissan surely had some serious power under the bonnet. After getting used to the car, Dawe decided to go on full attack on a rather surprised Thomson. Both drivers then ignored classifications, points standings, etc., and simply went for the honours, keeping their right foot down the whole afternoon. All risks were taken, including some spins and minor offs, constant head to head action resulted in an... equal overall time with one stage to go!! So the last stage of the last rally was decisive for FRC 2012, how close can you get? They went flat out again, Thomson did the best run and managed to keep off Dawe’s Nissan, which arrived having a misfire on the last kilometers. This means Andrew Thomson is now the 2012 FRC champion after a very tence battle, while Andrew Dawe takes the 2WD cup, after almost a full (but very consistent) season in the standard Seat Arosa, undoubtedly the slowest car in FRC this year. Another proof you do not need a WRC to take a top FRC position. Both ended great on the general classification too, Thomson took a splendid 7th overall, his best result so far, followed by Dawe on 9th. Both drivers surprised some Flemish spectators again. We thank both teams for the thrills they gave us during this incredible final, and congratulate them with their very well deserved championship titles! Nothing but happy people after the rally confirmed this season was great again, perhaps this one is the best we had so far.
The rest of our guests did a good job too in this very difficult rally, with Smith, Elswood, the Borgers family and the French Marquilly brothers finishing in the middle of the field, not bad in an event where a third of the competitors had to retire, mostly because of accidents. Hemicuda 2012 was won by Andy Lefevere in the M3 CSL, second came Cornelis in the Subaru S5, followed by Coene in the Evo X. We thank everyone for this great 3rd season of FRC, 2013 is already approaching. All preparations are made to make next year as good as it was the last years, more news about fixtures will be online the following weeks. In the mean time, we are preparing a great party for all of you on November 24th, no reason for not to be joining us! See you soon.
he FRC final gets really close now, impossible to predict who will be champion 2012. Andrew Thomson looks to have the best chance, with only Allan Smith in the same class. Andrew Dawe finally enters his long expected Sunny GTI with a fully rebuilt engine, which gives dutchman Eep Borgers direct competition in class. The Historic fight seems to have ended, if all goes well, Les Allfrey has the best chance. However, one never knows in rallying. It’s pretty sure that the points margin will be superclose if everyone finishes Hemicuda, which is ran on brand new stages this year. Major road works forced the organisers to reschedule to two stages, however the total distance against the clock remains pretty much the same compared with 2011. The weather forecast is reasonable after the wet conditions this week, a link to an onboard view of the stages is online at hemicuda.be
FRC party & Award Ceremony on Saturday, November 24th 2012
Just to let all of you know we have our annual party in Ypres again. Given the very positive comments on the location last year, we organise the party in the same hall, with an extended selection of local specialties, and a nice party with DJ afterwards. Like last years, drivers & codivers who took part in at least one FRC round eat free, guests pay 20 euro pp. More details will be online soon!
Rowe takes first win in Staden Rally
The big FRC field in Staden faced tropical heat, with stages that looked superfast though the dust and gravel faced many traps. First victim was Paul Boxall, superfast in the top 20 again, but forced to retire with electrical failure, soon followed by the French Lehouck and Perrin, who both crashed, as well as Martin de Vere-Packford, betrayed by an exploding tyre. John Legg later returned to the servicepark with a broken head gasquet, Huw Reed with a clutch failure, Marcel Borgers with a broken driveshaft and dad Eep with engine damage. Numerous crashes made a mess of the timing, but in all the chaos we could still find some teams who kept their heads cool. Andy Rowe struggled with an engine rather powered by donkeys instead of horses, but still squeezed out his first season FRC victory in front of Allan Smith, his great second place is the best of his season so far, also Frenchman Guillaume Vandamme took his best classification ever with a 3rd FRC position overall and the 2WD victory as a well deserved bonus. Garry Elswood finished a steady rally on a great 4th overall. Andy Dawe took a massive points score in the Seat again, as well as Andy Thomson in the occasional Civic. The Challenge never has been so interesting as it is now, with Thomson, Dawe and Borgers superclose to each other overall. One of those three will be the 2012 champion, but the differences will be minor.
The Historic battle was fought out between Keith Pettitt and Les Allfrey, only a handful of secs divided them troughout the rally. This competition did not get an end in style, with the last stages cancelled due to another crash. Keith took his first win of the season, while Les does an excellent job in the Historic Challenge classification, since Henri Hardiment had to retire with an overheating engine. The quickest Frenchman and FRC regular Wattine had to abandon with his beatiful Saab with a broken clutch, this meant an unexpected third overall for his countryman Yaneck Damé in the humble Peugeot 104. No doubt Hemicuda will be very interesting...
FRC at Rally Day
On Saturday the 18th, Inge, Ward & Kristof will be present again at Castle Combe Raceway for the annual Rally Day. We will be based at the PEC stand, needless to say we ship some Belgian Gold over.
We hope to meet many of you!
We had a fantastic day again at Rally Day, great to meet Gary and Carol Lomas, Richard and Irene lewsey, Bill and Jane Cook, Andy Thomson, Tom Hutchins, Andy Gwynne, the Dawe family, Neil Dodd, Val Thomson and many others who came to say hello, including several new teams interested in FRC 2013. We thank Dave Wheeler and the PEC team for the hospitality, their beautiful stand and the great promotion they made for FRC!
Preview Staden Rally
No less than 26 FRC entries set a new record this season, Staden can also claim a new entry speed record, with a max of 130 teams booked in only a couple of weeks. All FRC regulars are back again, including the return of Andy Rowe, John Legg (proud dad!) and John Morgan. Another interesting name is Dutchman Ferdi Biesheuvel testing with his new Subaru WRC, he will find some competition with a handful of Belgian WRC’s, including national pride Freddy Loix, driving a 307 WRC this time. The french delegation is interesting too, with also some new names on the seeding list. No matter what the results of Staden Rally will be, the Challenge will remain very interesting. The FRC leaders all drive in different classes, with Andy Dawe still stuck in the Arosa, Andrew Thomson in a Belgian Honda Civic and Eep Borgers in his usual Corsa Max. The Historic boys will also write an interesting story. Keith Pettitt can take back a top Challenge position if he beats Les Allfrey, who could do the same job in the absence of Gary Lomas. The stages did not change much, you can have an onboard preview via these links:
Dutch revolution in Suikerstreek Rally
Some surprises occured even before the start of the event. Andy Dawe heard weird noises coming out of the Nissan engine during a final testrun and had to enter the Seat again, while both Keith Pettitt and Chris Rixon did not even cross the channel due to unexpected trouble on their cars. The brand new Historic entered Mk.1 of Richard Lewsey seemed to be powered by a Mondeo engine and a sequential gearbox, so the modern cars had an unexpected extra rival. Although 10 FRC teams at the start looked a bit poor, the battle was great and the results for the Challenge very surprising. The first half of the rally was dominated by Andy Thomson and FRC newcomer Edwin Abbring, a fight that ended abruptly in a ditch for Andy. The car was hardly damaged, but six minutes were lost while the spectators tried to get the car back on the road. The team did everything to make up the lost time, but saw their efforts ruined by a broken front suspension at the end of the rally. Another unlucky man was Martin De Vere-Packford, who saw his clutch go with the finish in sight. Also Marcel Borgers had to abandon with a broken gearbox. Edwin Abring took a very well deserved win in his first FRC event, after six years of inactivity. That time was well spent on boosting the career of son Kevin, who is now one of the VW works drivers. Maybe there can be a similar future for daughter Kelly who navigated this weekend? Eep Borgers took second position and a great points score after a perfect rally, before Allan Smith who was very happy to put down his first result of the season. Richard Lewsey ended fourth, testdriving his fast Mk.1 without any single problem. Andy Dawe did undoubtedly the best deal in the Challenge this weekend. Another class win puts him on top of the Challenge now, the same can be said about Henri Hardiment who shares a top position with Historic collegues Lomas and Allfrey. Marrie Borgers ended last of FRC, but consistent point scores now put the Borgers family on three positions in the Challenge top five. Suikerstreek Rally was new to every FRC team, the superfast smooth concrete roads full of blind turns came very close to UK style stages. The compact layout of the rally, the great athmosphere in the servicepark and the perfect organisation made everybody very happy about the weekend, FRC thanks the organisers for their hospitality and hope to see everyone back next year.
preview Suikerstreek Rally
Bookings are nearly closed now, TRT expects about 80 teams at the start. Andy Thomson can do an excellent job in the Challenge, since main rival Rowe will not start in Tienen due to professional reasons. Main challenger will be Andy Dawe, who brings back his Sunny with a rebuilt engine. Regulars Allan Smith and Martin De Vere-Packford will be there too, as well as the Borgers family who bring along Erwin Abbring, a Dutch newcomer to the series with an M3. Historic gentleman Pettitt and Hardiment have an excellent opportunity to score good points after their unlucky rallies so far. Or will Richard Lewsey, also a new name, make a big entry to Historic FRC? The weather forecast promises great sunshine, so we should have a great rally again.
Geko Wervik Rally: Thomson takes it all
Some last minute withdrawals promised a very interesting rally. Pattisson couldn’t make it due to electronic issues, champion Rowe did not have enough time to repair his engine after the severe damage in Canal Rally, also Chris Rixon had some work going on. Challenge leader Andrew Thomson could do a great deal in these conditions. French top driver Chieusse took the lead as expected, but had to withdraw halfway the rally without oil pressure, so Thomson won FRC relatively easy before Eep Borgers and newcomer John Wood, who made his comeback after 22 years (!) of inactivity in the sport. John suffered some gearbox problems, but finished the rally after a very good pace. Less luck for Allan Smith, who had to stop the Subaru after a fire. Also Martin de Vere-Packford did not make it due to a broken clutch, while Marrie Borgers had to abandon in the very last round with an electrical failure. Eep Borgers dominated 2WD class, but son Marcel and frenchman Losfeld took nice points, as well as French drivers Dhaine and Marquilly. Andy Dawe in the humble Seat scored well too, his fast Sunny will be back for Suikerstreek.
Historic boys Lomas and Pettitt had a great battle during the whole rally. It looked like champion Keith would clinch victory, but mechanics decided otherwise and forced the Mk.1 back to the trailer on the last stage, rally can be a cruel sport. This way, Andy Thomson and Gary Lomas both took rally victory and the lead in the championship. Overall win went surprisingly to Belgian top driver Mathias Viaene, who just entered the 207 S2000 to test for Ypres rally in two weeks... Local man Tanghe took second place in his powerful BMW Compact, before Historic winner Janssens in the 911. None of the 7 WRC cars finished, over one third of the entries in this very hard rally had to abandon.
Regulations Suikerstreek Short Rally
Wervik Rally preview
Right after ORC Canal Rally, entries for Geko Wervik Rally are flooding in. Amongst the 100 teams already booked in, we welcome new FRC names Dave Patisson and John Wood, we look forward to their stagetimes. All FRC regulars are present again, unfortunately without Chris Rixon who can not repair the Saxo in time after the big hit in Oostrozebeke. We wish Chris all the best and hope to see his nice team back again as soon as possible. Also Andy Rowe is uncertain, all depends on the damage on the engine after the early retirement two weeks ago. Traditionally, Wervik attracts a nice french delegation, with Paul Chieusse in the 307 WRC as top name. Paul will meet some nice opposition in the three Subaru WRC’s that are entered, joined by the Peugeot S2000 force. Not less than four of these machines race in Wervik to prepare for Geko Ypres rally the end of June, Belgian star driver Freddy Loix is obviously one of the top favourites for the event. The stages did not change that much compared to last year, also grass & herbs along the stages have had a good cut, so all looks good for some high speed cornering.
Great start for Thomson in ORC Canal Rally
The 2012 opening round was full of surprises, unfortunately unpleasant ones for some drivers. Double FRC Champion Rowe proudly presented his new Evo 3, the same look as the old one but without rust, tape, dents and scratches, but soon got into trouble on the overcrowded opening showstage on Saturday Eve. Weird noises promised nothing good, a broken cambelt was the cause. Despite massive efforts, Andy was forced to retire with engine damage. Also Garry Elswood did not make it to the Sunday stages, with oil leaking out everywhere, also on the exhaust causing a small fire. Newcomer Chris Rixon decided to start in style and hugged a concrete block due to a blocking gearbox, but the severe damage could be repaired, Chris would also finish the rally. On Sunday, Dutch topdriver Swaanen took the fight for overall victory in the Focus WRC, ended second, but easily won FRC. Swaanen will not do the full Challenge, so Andy Thomson who made second FRC overall does the best deal in the Challenge. The other FRC newcomers, the total lunatic Paul Boxall and the completyely crazy Andy Egger made the FRC top 3 complete, humiliated some Belgian teams on faster machinery, and were therefore hugely encouraged by the local crowds, but both of them will not do the full Challenge either (shame!), so FRC regulars Eep Borgers and Andy Dawe, on a humble Seat Arosa for the occasion, made an excellent start to in the 2WD Cup. The French delegation also performed very well, but again no one of the teams do the full Challenge.
The Historic boys followed the same scenario as the modern ones. Double Champion Pettitt retired on the first Sunday leg with a broken gearbox, leg three ment the end for Henry Hardiment too. So Les Allfey dominated FRC Historic, Dutch newcomer Pennock finished as second in his first ever Belgian rally despite some nerves. Not easy to start as the first car on a showstage, but in the end Paul had a consistent run and promised to be back for the following rounds. See you all in Wervik in two weeks!
Numbers ORC Canal Rally
|2||Swaanen Jeroen||NL||Buysmans Robin*||B||Ford Focus WRC 08||3I|
|6||Rowe Andy||UK||Lund Cat||UK||Mitsubishi EVO3||3I|
|19||Thomson Andrew||UK||Vincent Richard||UK||Ford Focus||3I|
|36||Borgers Eep||NL||Van De Wardt Peter||NL||Opel Corsa C Max||3G|
|48||Smith Allan||UK||Graham Stanley||UK||Subaru Impreza STI||3I|
|52||Dawe Andrew||UK||Waldron Ernie||UK||Nissan Sunny||3G|
|63||Duponchel Marc||FR||Turpin Dominique||FR||BMW 325 I||3I|
|71||Boxall Paul||UK||Butler Teresa||UK||Peugeot 205||3G|
|73||De Vere-Packford Martin||UK||Bruyneel Yves*||B||Peugeot 306 Rallye||3G|
|74||Lehouck Bernard||FR||Vandamme Philippe||FR||BMW 320I||3G|
|75||Borgers Marcel||NL||Lipholt Patrick||NL||Opel Astra||3G|
|79||Wheeler Dave||UK||-||-||Peugeot 106||3F|
|80||Vandamme Guillaume||FR||Delessale Sylvain||FR||Peugeot 205 Rallye||3F|
|81||Egger Andy||UK||Thomson Val||UK||Vauxhall Nova||3F|
|84||Borgers Marrie||NL||Van den Heuvel Monique||NL||Opel Corsa A||3F|
|87||Elswood Garry||UK||Graham||UK||Citroen Saxo VTS||2C|
|89||Rixon Chris||UK||Hutchings Tom||UK||Citroen Saxo||2C|
|5 in Class 3I|
|6 in Class 3G|
|4 in Class 3F|
|2 in Class 2C|
Preview ORC Canal Rally
The opening round of FIRC 2012 is traditionally fully booked. Quantity is assured, but quality is there too with no less than 6 WRC cars at the entry list, which gives Canal Rally a national character. All WRC are Subaru, apart from Dutch top driver Swaanen on a recent Focus in top condition. Add this to a fleet of GT’s with two Porsche GT3 amongst the usual lot of BMW M3, followed by an army of fast Mitsu Evos, and you will understand the battle for victory will be serious.
The FIRC delegation counts no less than 23 teams, it looks like Andy Rowe will be the fastest man around, but will he be able to beat Swaanen? No doubt Andy Thomson and Eep Borgers will do their bit too. Andy Dawe still waits on his new Nissan engine, and will start in a Seat Arosa. Maybe not what he wanted to, but an Arosa has never been seen on a Belgian rally before, so at least it’s something special. The Historic boys Allfey, Hardiment and dutch newcomer Pennock will undoubtedly have their usual fight with double champion Pettitt. The biggist novelty fort his year’s edition is the new Super Special Stage on Saturday evening. The majority of the teams will race in daylight since the cars start in reverse order. On Sunday, it’s the classic way by number.
To get some good athmosphere during the extensive service after the SSS on Saturday eve, there will be a free gig at the rally centre. Also on Sunday, there is a lot to do around the servicepark, with free Polaris demoruns (all terrain vehicles) and the 24 hrs R/C race in the rallycentre. More than enough to keep everyone entertained, if the weather is ok, we look forward to a big party once again.
The last FRC meeting resulted in some changes for 2013. The last two years, only the overall champion won 5 free starts. This will be changed, the 2012 Modern champion will win 3 free starts for the following season, the Historic champion will get 2 free starts. The 2WD Cup remains. FRC is looking for extra sponsors to offer more prices, not easy however in the current economic climate. Some teams asked for a registration system for regular Challenge drivers, whilst other tems did not want this. Also an issue between the organisers, so we simply voted, the result was clearly for an open Challenge, so there will be no registration. Some might have noticed we changed our logo, this on demand of some supervising organisations to avoid interference or misunderstanding with other international championships.
Preview ORC Canal Rally
Still one and a half month to go for round one, but bookings already passed over 100. No doubt the rally will be fully booked again, and very soon. So if you want to compete, book NOW, if not you risk to be on the waiting list. Quantity is ok, so is the quality, with already 3 WRC's entered, one for double winner Melissa Debackere, and the usual sideways RWD machinery with showman Vanparijs in the Porsche GT3, the M3 fleet and so on. Also the very popular Historic division is well filled with 3 BDA Escorts and some fast Porsches. It looks like the FRC battle will be fought out between Andy Rowe in the revised Evo3 and John Morgan in the well known Escort Cosworth. SS Oostrozebeke has seen some serious changes, but the other two Sunday stages remain the same. Entrance will be free again on Sunday, a ticket to watch the Superspecial on Saturday evening will cost you 5 euros. Enclosed, you will find the regulations for ORC Canal Rally.
GEKO Wervik Rally 2012
Only 2 weeks after ORC Canal Rally, it's FRC time again. Entries for Wervik are gently coming in, we expect a rush after ORC however. One big name has already been announced: french top driver Paul Chieusse in the Peugeot 307 WRC. Geko Wervik Rally keeps the same structure of 5x3 SS, not many has changed. The rally now has 100kms of SS and 100kms of road section, also the entry fee has been reduced. Very important news for FRC teams who plan to participate in Ypres Rally: a non-local teams that wins the general classification will get a reduction of 1000 euros on the entry fee of Ypres Rally. Wervik and Ypres are situated in the same area, so if you don't manage to win in Wervik, you still will be very well prepared for Ypres rally...
ORC Canal Rally 2012
The first round of the 2012 Challenge is only 2 months away now. On Sunday Mai 27th, ORC Canal Rally welcomes you all again for a good day of fast action. The biggest novelty for this year's rally is a brand new, four lap Show Stage on Saturday evening, right after scrutineering. This stage is layed out on an industrial estate with a spectacular passage right trough the Declerq Company, who specialises in concrete and gravel for the construction industry... Nice drifts are expected, that's why a spectator arena will be set up to give the vast number of spectators an excellent overview. The Sunday Stages (4x3) remain the same as last year, apart from one or two minor changes. The service park will have a new layout too, to improve car & spectator traffic. Bookings are now open, the first entries already arrived. We all remember very well the overbooking disaster in 2011, ORC being the first Motor Club to cope with this unexpected problem. Although timing has been stretched to 150 teams now, it still looks like 2012 will face the same problem, so do not wait too long to confirm your entry. Finally, we repeat that 500 euro prise money is reserved for any non-belgian team able to win the general classification. Hard, but not impossible.
FIRC 2012: the first newsfacts
We only have couple of months to go before the third edition of FIRC kicks off, the organisers of the first rounds are already very busy preparing their rally. The first heat, ORC Canal Rally on Mai 26&27th offers again a price for any non-Belgian team that is able to win the overall classification. 500 euro prize money is waiting for the team that can beat the Belgians. Who takes this challenge? More important changes will be added to the rally, if all goes well with the necessary authorisations. Though all looks good, it's a bit to early to reveal the plans, more news later. The second heat, GEKO Rally of Wervik on June 8&9th, will be comparable to the 2011 edition. Two stages will have minor changes, including a new show section. We also have the pleasure to repeat that all the teams who made it to the FIRC Award Ceremony shall get their promised reduction on their entrance fee.
By the end of the month, we have a meeting with all the organisers to update some technical questions, do not expect big changes. Some remrks and ideas of competitors will be discussed, mor news in a couple of weeks. In the mean time, we want to stress again that HANS is mandatory for all teams in all rallies in Belgium.
FIRC Award Ceremony
FIRC wishes to thank the vast UK delegation who made the effort to travel all the way to Belgium for the Award Ceremony, and more specifically for the great evening! Congratulations to Cat & Andy, Val & Neil and Keith & James for their well deserved titles. Let's meet again in 2012 for another great FIRC season! We also thank GEKO Wervik Rally for the early Christmas gift to all the teams present. The 2012 calendar is now online. See you soon for more information on the 2012 series.
FIRC Award Presentation 2011
Hemicuda Rally: some history repeating
The final results at a sunny Hemicuda Rally confirmed what should be: Rowe/Lund for the second year in a 'rowe' as champion, after undoubtedly being the fastest around again. The retirement at Wervik Rally earlier this year meant they had to finish to be sure of the title, so they decided not to fight for a top position overall (being second in the morning section!) and keep the heads cool. The reward is great however: a second title! Congratulations, and go for the hattrick next year? About the same story can be told about Keith Pettitt in the Historic division: only a finish would ensure the title, Keith & James did it in style and won the FIRC Historic title, beating their main rival Les Allfrey. Allfrey has more victories, but one result less, came costly at the end. FIRC was a full Brit Fest this year, with Neil Dodd winning the 2WD class, beating frenchman Henri Bève and Andy Dawe. Neil and Val also finished as second in the championship overall, the ultimate proof you do not need a WRC to score high in FIRC. Andy Dawe, FIRC rookie, becomes 3d overall, and 2nd 2WD. Not bad after a maiden year, we look forward to their pace next year..... We also mark top final positions for Garry Elswood (5th) and Ben Howlett, 9th overall with only two rallies ran, but two great results pushed him and bro Simon high up on the final ranking.
With John Legg not present this weekend, both Andy Thomson and Alan Smith could do a good deal in the series, but technology decided otherwise. Alan's car got stuck in first gear, while Andy saw his clutch exploding. More bad news for Gary Lomas, who made an excellent start dominating Historic (overall!), but then went off. The Dutch delegation was rather limited in Hemicuda, with many teams deciding not to start because they couldn't do much anymore pointswise, although some still stood a chance in 2WD. Team Borgers couldn't be bothered about this, and decided to have some fun again, this resulted in a great final score for Marrie Van Dorland and Wea Smilde, the first ladies team in the series, on a very impressive 6th overall. Team Chief Eep finishes on the 8th spot overall in FIRC, not bad on a total of 26 teams scoring points. The only Frenchman left to play a role in the series, Henri Bève, was not rewarded for his run and finally finishes third 2WD, and 4th overall. However, Henri won FIRC overall in Wervik this year, the first time a 2WD car could do it, who can repeat that?
Overall win in Hemicuda went to Mathias Viaene in a Sub S12, before Pol Lietaer (Mk.2 BDG), Bert Coene (Evo 10) and Dirk Vermeirsch (Sierra4x4 gr.A). We thank everyone for their commitment to FIRC, more news about the 2012 series will be online in a couple of weeks.
FIRC @ Rally Day
Like last year, Inge, Ward and Kristof will be there again to present the 2012 FIRC series. We will also ship some of our national pride, so if you want a belgian lager, just ask....
preview Hemicuda Rally *update*
The organisers count 160 entries now, this means a new record. It is over a decade ago that so many teams started in a Flemish Rally. The timing has been rescheduled, so everyone will have the chance to start. All regular FIRC-teams are present, for what will be a thrilling final to the series. FIRC also sets a new record in Hemicuda with 33 teams present. Mainly Dutch and UK teams will fight for the honours, the French have a FFSA-Rally the same weekend. Henri Bève, FIRC-winner in Wervik, will be there however. He still makes a chance to become champion, amongst with for colleagues, but it is clear that Andy Rowe has the best chances. While the Historic champion is already known, Keith Pettitt again after a very consistent season, no one can predict who will win the 2Wd-category. It looks like anyone can clinch the title. The Flemish teams also present some nice cars. Four WRC's are expected, amongst with some quick gr.N's, a lot of sideways material called BMW and the full lot of Historic top drivers. Newcomers in FIRC are Gary Lomas, a regular runner in Hemicuda, and multiple Dutch Champion Jan Vander Marel, driving a Porsche RS. We just hope the weather is ok, if not, prepare for some mud baths. Those who were there last year: the stages only had some minor changes.
** Only one WRC will start, two did not get repaired in time after Omloop Van Van Vlaanderen two weeks ago. Debackere prefers a french raly in the Focus this weekend. So we can look forward to a very open rally this weekend, even the sun will be there!
Rally of Staden: third overall for Rowe!
Staden rally saw 130 teams starting (with 55 on the waiting list!). Sunshine, rather muddy stages in the morning after heavy rainfall the days before, lots of spectators, in short all ingredients for a fine day of rallying, for a classic recipe: if there is no big issue concerning Rowe/Lund, they win. After the only mishap so far, a broken turbo in Wervik Rally, the engine got a complete rebuild. This job only got finished the evening before the event however, in traditional 'last minute' style. Apart from some oil coming out of the clutch, all went great for Andy and Cat, finishing on their best overall result in Flanders so far: third behind Belgian all-star Loix, 'only testing' for the IRC Barum Rally next week in a works Skoda S2000, and local hero Geert Beauprez in a Subaru WRC S5. Huw Reed put his smart Escort Cosworth as the second FIRC car and 14th overall, Ben Howlett won 2WD class and got third FIRC finish on a 20th position overall, an all British podium. 4th FIRC driver was Dutchman Broekhuizen, who lost a lot of time in the opening stages without powersteering, followed bij Andy Dawe who complained about a very high number and some engine management troubles, and John Legg, who closed the top 50 in his usual spectacular style. Early in the rally, we lost Andrew Thomson with a broken sensor, Martin de Vere-Packford with a blocked gearbox, and Eep Borgers who went off in the opening stage, leaving one of his front wheels in the Flanders Fields. Halfway, we noticed a great FIRC fight between the rest of the best: Allan Smith, Garry Elswood, Sander van de Hel, Neil Dodd and the French Tankere en Vandamme. Garry Elswood was the fastest of the lot, though Neil Dodd made the best deal in the championship: a series of class wins without retirements brings him and codriver Val to the second place overall in the championship for drivers and codrivers! The Historic boys had a good battle too: Les Allfrey won again, while Keith Pettitts second place should be enough to win the Historic FIRC- series for the second time. Henri Hardiment finished third FIRC, father and son Wattine took last positions in historic, both in FIRC as overall. The Hillman Imp duo, Mike Smith and Ian Fisher were less lucky and had to retire with mechanical failures.
With one rally to go, the championship looks pretty interesting. Andy Rowe has got the best chances, but some guys are waiting for that one little mistake that could proof costly: Thomson, Dawe, Dodd en Legg. In 2WD class, it looks like everyone could win. So, for the second season in FIRC, all will be decided in the last rally again. See you soon at Hemicuda!
Rally of Staden: preview
As expected, the first Rally of Staden is already fully booked. Now 183 teams engaged for a timing of 130. All FIRC regulars wil be there again, apart from Challenge leader Henri Bève. Henri plans to return to the final round in Hemicuda. Adrien Wattine, Huw Reed and Ben Howlett are some of the newcomers. Staden was a short rally last year, and has now become a full rally thanks to a third new stage. This means the rythm will be a lot higher, and with a rescheduled road section, traffic jams and long regroups should be history. Also the Challenge could take a decisive twist, or can we expect some surprises again like we ha before on Wervik? Let's wait and see...
4 rounds for 2011 Challenge
After the North Sea Rally got cancelled, the organisation looked for a rally that could replace the event. Before we took any decisions, we first consulted the teams who run the championship. It soon came clear that several teams could not reschedule their calendar, leaving nthem unable to compete ine extra (final) round later in the season. So the 2011 Challenge will only have 4 rounds, we look forward to have 5 rounds again for 2012.
Geko Wervik Rally: French Revolution!
Round two of FIRC started in the worst possible conditions: rain, wind, and even some sunshine... This made the stages totally unpredictable, which resulted in a big number of crashes. First leader was Andy Rowe, not really a surprise. The Evo 3 took 4th overall in the first stage, in between WRC's and S2000's, on slicks in the rain..... Another top result could be expected, until a broken turbo stopped the car in stage 5, over and out. Despite the disappointment, Andy took things rather philosophically, since this was his first non-finish in 20 events. Second leader became Andy Thomson, who kept this position over half the rally, but then lost over 3' with... a broken turbo. A spare one of Belgian MIES Racing Team kept the Focus running, but a good positiion seemed to be ruined with Dutchman Broekhuizen way ahead. Unfortunately, the Dutch Mitsubishi was stopped a well, due to... a broken turbo in the last leg! A heavily disappointed Broekhuizen saw a massive points score disappear, to make matters worse, the engine damage seems to be very bad, and could end his season. In the mean time, John Legg and Alan Smith managed to crash in the very same corner, both straight forward after a big breaking zone. Both teams will undoubtedly be very busy in the following weeks, repearing the well bent cars. With all the 4x4's delayed or out of FIRC, Frenchman Beve took a totally unexpected win overall in his fast Opel Manta, followed by his countryman Hazebrouck, another new name in FIRC behind the wheel of a Saxo. Congratulations to both the teams, who only planned to do some FIRC rounds. This result might change their minds however. The battle in 2WD was very intense troughout the whole rally. Dutchman Eep Borgers lost a lot of time in the rainy morning, sliding in every direction on slicks, but managed to take a lot time back when the staged dried up. Not enough however to threaten Andy Dawe, very fast again. We see good results too for Neil Dodd and Nicolas Cunnington, as well for Dutch crews Van Dorland and Marcel Borgers. Sander Van de Hel was going very fast too, but saw his rally stopped due to a broken oilpump. His brother Mark was the only VRSTeam-driver who could finish. Martin de Vere-Packford was again on his way to great result, but suffered an exploding tire in the last leg, wich resulted in a big crash, luckily without consequences for the crew. The car seems to be reparable, we sincerely hope the fast 306 is back in Staden. In Historic division, the french were less lucky. Damien Gromez had to retire with a broken carter, while Fabrice Wattinne had an engine failure in the Saab V4. Keith Pettitt was undoubtedly the fastest man around, followed by Henri Hardiment. FIRC newcomer Haseldon made a lot of heads turn in his very smart Austin A35, a unique car never seen before in Belgium. The gearbox did not want to collaborate, making the pretty red bubble stop in stage 2. Despite its short appearance, the Austin was the talk of the rally for many spectators, we really hope to see the team back on an other occasion. After two rounds, the classification looks very interesting, we look forward to the Rally of Staden in August, see you soon!
preview Geko Wervik Rally *update*
With a couple of a days to go, we all are ready for some good action. The weather forecast does not look too good, with heavy brain predicted on thursday, so prepare for some slippery conditions. For those who are new in Wervik: watch out where, and where not, to cut, and pay attention to the condition of the road. We also repeat that recce stops at 17pm. Refuelling can be done in the serrvice park, this means BBQ and/or open fires are strictly prohibited. FIRC bar will be there again with food & drinks at unbeatable prices.
Geko Wervik Rally is as good as fullly booked. All the FIRC regulars are back again, apart from John Morgan and Less Allfrey, who compete in the Ypres Historic Rally the week after. Dominic Frattaroli had the same plan, but he even has to cancel his committment to Ypres Historic. The crash at ORC Canal Rally hurt the car so badly it will be impossible to repair for the event. We wish the team all the best in rebuilding the beautiful Datsun 240Z. Also some french teams will not be there, due to a rally for the "Coupe de France" in Normandy the same weekend. They will be back for Staden Rally in August. The stages around Wervik are identical in style of those of his big brother GekoYpres Rally (IRC/ERC) only a week later, this means many top teams will be present to work on the setup of their cars. Uptil now, we already see 3 S2000's on the entry list, and there will be no shortage of gr. N's and WRC's too. Although FIRC has nothing to do with the general classification, we still look forward to the times of Rowe and Thomson, or Dawe and Borgers in 2WD. We are also very interested in the classification of some FIRC newcomers, mainly Dutch. The stages in Wervik are very challenging, things could be even worse if the wheather is bad.
The regulations are online on www.scuderiavervica.be , we would like to stress that there will be an extra control on the fire proof shirt. In ORC Canal Rally, some teams still did not have one. The Association accepted this, but for the very last time. We also want to point out that codrivers who already have HANS do not need a neck support. Finally, it is good to know that recce is only allowed until 5pm, due to a local cycling race that crosses the stages in the evening. Roadbooks can be collected from 10am, so there should be time enough. Scrutineering starts at 6pm.
ORC Canal Rally: Rowe again!
Round one of the 2011 Challenge was a massive success ! Eventually, 28 teams booked for FIRC, almost triple as much than last year. In a massively overbooked rally (183 entries for 150 timed cars) with 3 WRC’s, 2 S2000’s , plenty of fast gr.A’s and N’s, a handful GT’s like M3, Porsche GT3 and the unique Nissan 370Z by Van Woensel, Andy Rowe and Cat Lund finished 6th overall, dominating the FIRC troughout the 12 stages. Who can beat them ? Andy Thomson made it a very good second, after some time loss with a broken paddle shift, while dutchmen Broekhuizen and Borgers in his brand new Corsa Max followed relatively close behind.
Also FIRC rookies John Legg, with belgian codriver Degroote , and Andy Dawe who made his comeback after a seven year break, had a great rally. Andy could have finished on a much better position if he hadn’t ditched the car for over 3 minutes... He was not the only one however. Behind them, we saw many teams in a close FIRC-battle, like Allan Smith, Martin De Vere-Packford, mixed with the dutch delegation with Van Middendorp and youngster Van Loo in an ex-Weys Citroen C2 S1600, and the french with Beve winning the national fight before Duponchel, Vandamme and Tankere, last FIRC but very happy being the first Citroen AX on the finish, also being the only one at the start. Garry Elswood, who suffered ignition problems on Saturday, and Neill Dodd made a nice finish too, something that can not be said about the Dutch brothers Van de Hel and Marcel Borgers, the three of them did not finish and joined the other 40 retirements. Historic division was dominated by Dominic Frattaroli, who even made it up to a incredible 16th overall in his beautiful Datsun 240Z, in between several local Mk.2 BDA and other fast Porsches, before ditching the car with the finish in sight… 2010 Champion Keith Pettitt suffered from brake problems on his new Mk.1 and could never really defend his chances. After the retirement of Hardiment, stopped by an electrical problem, Mini mate Les Allfrey won Historic class after a very consistent run, before the heavily surprised frenchman Damien Gromez in his first belgian rally, behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo GTV. Keith Pettitt finally ended 3rd overall, before father and son Wattinne, also from France. John Morgan had to retire at the end of the rally with a broken alternator. Next round, Geko Wervik Rally, is organised just one week before his big brother, Geko Ypres Rally. Some UK drivers wil not be present, due to their commitment in the Historic Ypres rally, such as Morgan, Allfrey, and Frattaroli, while Wattinne is competing in a French Rally. So we can look forward to an intense points battle in Historic for the rest of the season. More news about Wervik will be online soon.
preview ORC Canal Rally
FIRC 2011 starts with a record breaking organisation. Compared with 2010, the number of FIRC teams has tripled. Also Flemish bookings exploded, with a final number of 183 entries and only room for 140 cars (which has risen to a max of 150 now). A unique situation, even to Flemish standards. Quality is important too, and we have no complaints: Pol Lietaer and Melissa Debackere go for a reissue of their thrilling 2010 fight, then won by Belgium's fastest lady, only some secs in front of Pol. Both run a Subaru WRC this weekend. Chris Van Woensel is a potential winner too, driving a superb Nissan 370Z, 400+ bhp! There are many outsiders however: Bruyneel (207 S2000), Debyser (Porsche 996 GT3), Cools (EvoX), Cornelis (Escort WRC), or a member of the big BMW-family, like Viaene, Prinzie or Braeckevelt. The GT3 "0" car will be driven by showman Tim De Bock.
Also the FIRC boys & girls make a great turnout. Champion Rowe is back to defend his title in the Evo3, and will be the main target for Dutchman Martijn Broekhuizen in his rebuilt Evo6 Mäkinen. Also 2010 2WD Cup Winner Eep Borgers is expected to go very fast with his home made Corsa Max 2.0, a car that will make his debute in rally. His son Marcel and partner Marrie are back again too. More drivers we welcome again are Andy Thomson, John Morgan and Martin de Vere-Packford with a rebuilt engine in his 306. We also look forward to the results of FIRC/ORC-rookies like the Van De Hel family from Holland, Frenchman Marc Duponchel in a 325i gr.A, and UK drivers Andy Dawe and Allan Smith, who will be joined by Garry Elswood and Neil Dodd.
Historic Rallying is very big in Flanders, but several FIRC drivers can mark a top position in the army of BDA's, Porsches and BMW's. Top favourite here is John Morgan with his Escort Mk.2 BDA, Dominic Frattaroli, new in FIRC but familiar with Flanders roads, will undoubtedly be quick too in his smart Datsun 240Z. Historic Champion 2010 Keith Pettitt, who planned to go on retirement after last season also comes back to defend his title, this time with an Mk.1 Escort pinto. How stubborn can the rally virus be? More historic action can be expected from regular Flemish guests Hardiment and Allfrey and the French delegation formed by Fabrice Wattinne en Damien Gromez. The weather forecast looks promising, so we all look forward to a great rally party next weekend!
Noordzee Rally cancelled
The third round of this year's FIRC, Noordzee Rally on 16& 17th July, is cancelled. Due to major road works, the organisation faced big difficulties organising the event. The stages and sections had to be entirely redesigned, included using other Council's roads. Getting permissions proved to be as good as impossible, so the 2011 event is definitevely cancelled. Whether there will be a replacement rally will be announced later, for the moment FIRC 2011 is about 4 rallies.
Marshalls needed for Flemish Rally
The first round of this years FIRC is searching for marshals & between us we have worked out a great deal. Please see the attached PDF for further details and please pass it on if you know anyone who might be interested. If you need to know anything else please give Fairfield Motorsport a call on 01656 725000 or download more information.
ORC CANAL Rally fully booked
French entries in ORC CANAL Rally
Frenchmen Richard Tankere and Phlippe Vandamme will make their debut in the Flanders International Rally Challenge. The French-Flemish team enters the ORC Rally after a enjoyfull Flemish tarmac experience (as spectator!) last month in the Rallysprint van Moorslede. Tankere and Vandamme will drive a Citroen AX GTI and will battle with Marrie Van Dorland and Wea Smilde, who are also competing the ORC Rally for the first time in an Opel Corsa A, in Class 3F.
Tankere - Vandamme Van Dorland - Smilde (Hemicuda 2010)
First entries for ORC Canal Rally and ORC Cup arrive
We can already welcome a very nice entry list from our Dutch neighbours. As mentioned before the Rally Team of Eep Borgers will drive the FIRC in their Opels. Also Joost Custers and Alex Eisenberg enter the ORC Canal Rally with a Ford Sierra Cosworth! Richard Tankere en Vandamme Philippe will start their FIRC debut in a Citroen AX GTI. The Team Van Middendorp and Broekhuizen have also announced re-entering the Flanders International Rally Challenge in 2011. That will be another 6 cars entering the second FIRC. Broekhuizen had his car even redecorated, more news to follow shortly!
The British delegation is also arriving. Andy and Andy (Rowe and Thompson) will enter again the challenge. Rowe is looking for a second title while Thompson want revenge for the many electronical trouble in 2010. Neil Dodd and Val Thompson will have an expanded programme in the FIRC. Last year they drove 2 rounds.
Historic Champion again in FIRC 2011
The Dutch are not the only ones who's interest in the FIRC is growing, on the other side of the Channel many things are stirring. Many different drivers already expressed their interest in the Flanders International Rally Challenge. Keith Pettitt, 2010 Historic Champion will again tackle the 5 rounds of the Challenge. Keith, who was initially going to retire end 2010 after a huge rally carreer, couldn't resist defending his title. He will again compete in 2011 with his well-trusted Ford Lotus Cortina.
He will not be the only one fighting for the Historic title in 2011. Fast Brit Bill Cook, who had in round 2 in Wervik a terrible crash with his beautiful Talbot Lotus Sunbeam, informed us the completely new-build Talbot is ready to rally the Flemish tarmac. Same as last year Bill will be codriven by Stadenaar Yves Bruyneel, who will be driving for familiar audience on the 4th round this year. They want a rematch with Flanders and in the FIRC and they are ready.
Bill Cook and Yves Bruyneel before the crash in Wervik 2010 Keith Pettitt in ORC CANAL Rally 2010
Eep Borgers is contesting the FIRC 2011.
After a succesfull debut in the inaugural Flanders Rally Challenge the Dutch Borgers-Van de Wardt team is proud top announce that they will be again competing in the FIRC 2011. In 2010 they took 2nd place overall. in 2011 and with a brand new car they want to go for the overall win and fight the many British competitors already interested in the Challenge.
The rallyteam already announced not starting alone in the 5 rounds of the FIRC. 5 cars, one driven by Eeps son and on for his wife, will contest all 5 rounds of the Challenge!!
CAT LUND and ALICE POWELL SCOOP BWRDC GOLDSTARS 2011
Highlight of the four-day Autosport International motorsport show was on Saturday 15th January, when BBC Sport’s Formula 1 television presenter Jake Humphrey announced the winners of the GoldStars on the BWRDC stand, in front of a huge crowd.
Opening the first envelope Jake announced - Alice Powell, Formula Renault BARC Champion as the winner of the coveted Elite GoldStars Award (the second year in succession). Opening the second envelope Jake announced Cat Lund, FIRC & Club rally co-driver Champion as the winner of the coveted Club GoldStars Award, a canon of foil confetti showered over them.
Helen Bashford-Malkie presented Jake with a gift and thanking him for presenting the GoldStars. With minutes to spare before his next engagement, Jake said:“I just want to say - well done to all of the girls and all of the people involved in organising today. I really do think it’s about time that these women who are making waves in motor racing are recognised at the very top. So good luck in 2011 to all of you.”
Liz Halliday stepped in and took over interviewing the GoldStars winners for MotorsTV. “It’s brilliant!” Alice exclaimed. “I came up against great competition again this year. Obviously Louise and Jess have both done a fantastic job. But to win it for the second year is great and, the best possible way to start the year. It’s so exciting to have Jake to present the awards, he’s a great guy and it’s a really great endorsement for the Club.”
GoldStars Elite Mentor, Susie Stoddart who was unable to attend Autosport International, sent the following message: “A very big congratulations to Alice Powell on winning the prestigious Elite Category once again. In 2010 Alice really made people sit-up and take notice. She scored pole positions and race wins in BARC Formula Renault before going on to clinch the championship, which is a tremendous achievement. I am proud to mentor her once again in 2011 and I wish her all the best this season.”
“I am so pleased to have won this amazing award,” enthused Cat. ”It is such a prestigious award and both Louise and Amy had fantastic seasons. But I’m thrilled that I have brought the rally section into the limelight. It was amazing to have Jake Humphrey here to spend time with us and present the GoldStars; very exciting. The prizes are fantastic; a year’s supply of oil, a lovely stop-watch, the GoldStars webpage and testing at Donington. And to have Liz Halliday as a mentor is brilliant. I’m looking forward to working with her.”
GoldStars Club Mentor, Liz Halliday said: “It’s brilliant. Cat looked very surprised but she has earned it; they’ve had a tough year and a very successful year and I think it’s kind of cool that we’ve give the award to a Champion rally co-driver. It just goes to show how much a co-driver’s talents are genuinely recognised. I know she’s got a few questions to ask me, so I hope she will find me useful this year.”
Phots courtesy: Jakob Elbrey
For more information please contact:
Source: BWRDC Press Release
Cat Lund nominated for the BWRDC Goldstars Club Award
ROCKINGHAM’S Head of Operations will be lining-up among some of the fastest females in UK motorsport at the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club (BWRDC) stand at this year’s Autosport International Show. Cat Lund has been nominated for the coveted BWRDC GoldStars Club Award, following her double rally championship-winning season together with driver Andy Rowe. The rally co-driver was crowned both the Flanders International Rally Challenge (FIRC) and BWRDC Rally Co-driver champion.
The 39-year-old, who joined Rockingham in 2007, enjoyed her most successful season to date co-driving for Andy in the pair’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3, contesting the five FIRC rounds in Belgium and winning two rallies outright in the UK. Only one of these prestigious awards is presented annually to club competitors and Cat faces stiff competition from fellow BWRDC racing driver members, BRSCC Mighty Mini Champion Louise Inch and BWRDC Championship runner-up Amy Barker. Cat said: “I am absolutely delighted to be nominated for the BWRDC GoldStars Club Award. To be included as a rally co-driver clearly shows the club’s support for the achievements of women in all disciplines of motorsport. “If I was to be presented with this prestigious honour, it would be the perfect end to an incredible 2010 season. “The BWRDC exists to support and advise women in all forms of motorsport and as a member I’ve found it a great source of advice and inspiration.”
The BWRDC Goldstars Awards will be presented by BBC Sports Presenter Jake Humphrey, anchorman for the broadcasters’ coverage of the FIA World Formula One championship on BBC1. The award ceremony will take place on Saturday (January 15) at the BWRDC Stand 6840, Hall 6, at the Birmingham NEC. The presentation is due to take place at 2.55pm and all visitors are welcome to attend. The GoldStars are the BWRDC’s way of flagging up talent within motorsport and to help the nominees and winners promote and progress their careers. The winner of the club award will receive mentoring from international dual sportswoman and broadcaster Liz Halliday. They will also receive a generous package of sponsor’s products and a special BWRDC Goldstars sticker for their competition cars. In addition all nominees will benefit from a dedicated webpage at www.bwrdc-goldstars.co.uk to attract potential sponsors.
Source: Rockingham press release
More information about the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club (BWRDC) on http://www.bwrdc.co.uk
HRCR Open Day in Gaydon
Same as last year the first event the organisation of the Flanders International Rally Challenge will attend is the HRCR Open Day next weekend in Gaydon (Warwickshire). They hope to have a lot of interesting Historic Drivers wanting to compete against Keith Pettit, who was 3rd overall this year.
More information about the HRCR Open Day: www.hrcr.co.uk/Club_News.
More information about the Museum: http://www.heritage-motor-centre.co.uk/
Hemicuda Rally: Rowe/Lund Champion
The Hemicuda Rally in Koekelare, near the belgian coast, was the last and decisive round for the FIRC Challenge and had a lot of foreign attention with 20 cars on the start. Rowe had to finish as 3rd FIRC in class to become champion. If he failed to do so, the title could still go to Dutchman Borgers, who had a good chance to win class 3G again. Not an easy job for Andy with stiff competition in class 3I, coming from Morgan, Reed, Thomson and FIRC newcomer Pattison, who won the event in 2006. To make matters worse, the rally started with heavy rainfall, meaning big watersplashes and some parts of the stages inundated. It must be that FIRC drivers have a sixth sense for danger, since all of them survived the first, extremely hard leg.
Surviving means in this case: staying on the road. Some turns had their traditional ditches transformed in car parks, luckily without foreign numberplates. Despite good driving, both Thomson and Reed had to retire after the first leg, with respectively transmisson problems and an electronical failure. They were soon followed by Marcel Borgers with braking problems. Marcel is Eep's 20-year old son who made his debute in Flanders in the worst possible conditions, and told us he had the best handbrake fun ever. Martijn Broekhuizen had to retire a bit later too, due to a strange problem however: a very ill codriver, unable to concentrate on anything anymore. By noon, the competitors finally saw some sunshine, leaving the stages in very tricky circumstaces. Dry parts suddenly changed in slippery mudbaths, causing more accidents. Morgan and Pattison avoided all the traps and had a very nice battle for the FIRC win, for third overall they were joined by local men Vermeirsch (Sierra 4x4) and Coene (Evo9). Finally Pattison won the battle with only a 6secs advantage on Morgan, making them 3rd and 4th overall.
Rowe ignored the fight for a top position and did what he had to do: finishing as 3rd FIRC driver and take the inaugural title, although a 7th overall still is a position to be proud of! His main rival Borgers also made it to the finish, on a great 23rd place overall and 5th FIRC driver. Overall win was for Bart Maes in an Octavia WRC. The historic part of the Hemicuda was a nailbiter too: the extreme weather conditions decimated the top 7. Teams who made a gentle start could later start their battle for winning back the time they lost in the morning. FIRC newcomer Egerton not only took a splendid 2nd overall in Historic, he was also the fastest FIRC 2WD car, beating unbeatable Eep Borgers. More impressive performances were made by Mini Cooper drivers Allfrey and Hardiment, beating a 'modern' Cooper S and a Porsche 911!
After the rally, we only saw happy people, the luckiest crew obviously being Andy Rowe and Cat Lund with their fantastic FIRC title. They win a free entry on all the FIRC rallies in 2011. The Dutch delegation can look back on a great season too, with Eep as runner-up in the Challenge and fastest 2WD team. Finally, the unofficial title of best FIRC Historic driver goes to Keith Pettitt after a very consistent season. We heard many plans and rumours about the FIRC regulars for the next season, we promise to inform you about all the newsfacts in the following weeks. The 2011 season should have the same five rallies again and, as we heard from our British and Dutch friends, with more drivers entering the Challenge! 2011 will be great...
The Final results of the Hemicuda can be found on the site of Hemicuda: link
The General Classification of the inaugural Flanders International Rally Challenge can be found here
FIRC preview Hemicuda Rally
The last round of the FIRC looks very promising: 2006 winner Pattison is back and will be a serious contender for Morgan, Reed, Thomson and Rowe. Steve Hendy will be there too in the Focus WRC to play with the local WRC drivers Dirk Vermeirsch (Subaru S5) and Bart Maes, (Octavia). FIRC regular de Vere-Packford makes his final belgian run, more british names are Elswood and Smith. The strong dutch delegation is ready too, with frontman Borgers in a final attempt to clinch the title. Miss Borgers will drive herself in a Corsa, along with Van Middendorp, Broekhuizen (Evo 6) and Smulders in a promising BMW Compact M3. In the historic division, we welcome again Keith Pettitt and Henry Hardiment, along with some new names like Egerton, Jones and Allfrey. We just hope the weather will be nice. If not, the traditional mudpool could cause serious havoc.
FIRC info Hemicuda Rally 2010-08-19
The organizes of the Hemicuda Rally have prepared a very special deal for all foreign teams. More info on: http://www.hemicuda.be/uk/rally%202010/FIRC%20Folder%20-%20UK.pdfIf you still need a place to sleep, a very detailled list can be seen trough the next link: http://www.hemicuda.be/uk/rally%202010/Logies.pdf
The Hemicuda Rally will again have a very strong entry list. Already 8 teams entered the rally and many more will follow!
|FIRC Party at November 20th, book now!
|preview Short Rally Staden
With almost 150 cars on the entry list, Staden looks to set a new record for this season. The weather forecast doesn't look too good uptil now, the chance is likely that many parts of the stages will be muddy. Top favourites in these conditions are Paul Lietaer (Subaru WRC) and Bernard Munster (Octavia WRC). Many outsiders will wait for a mistake however, Dirk Vermeirsch (Sierra 4x4), Andy Rowe (Evo3), John Morgan (Escort) and Eddy Snaet (Evo10) are keen on a good result too. If the roads stay dry, we can also look forward to a top result for Vincent Verscheuren (top M3), Wim Soenens (Porsche GT3) and especially Andy Lefevere with his 400 bhp M3 CSL. All depends on who stays on the road, Staden has a crashy reputation when wet.
Numbers FIRC drivers:
65. Borgers-Van de Wardt
66. De Vere-Packford-Fellowes
|usefull information Short Rally Staden
Following adresses can be interesting: the servicepark is located in following streets: De Carninstraat, Bruggestraat and G. Gezelleplein. Scrutineering: Carrosserie Hoirelbeke at Grote Veldstraat, trailerpark on the parking of the company "Obumex", Diksmuidestraat 121, just outside the city centre. The rallycentre is situated at "Zaal Blommenhof", G. Gezelleplein (right behind the church, just past "service in". Finally, the FIRC village is located at the front parking of the school, on your right hand, "before service out" .
It's still possible to book, but the timing is based on 130 cars. With already 146 teams booked in, it will be a full house again at Staden. More news after the press conference next friday
overview chart Staden: link
|usefull information Short Rally Staden
Following adresses can be interesting: the servicepark is located in following streets: De Carninstraat, Bruggestraat and G. Gezelleplein. Scrutineering: Carrosserie Hoirelbeke at Grote Veldstraat, trailerpark on the parking of the company "Obumex", Diksmuidestraat 121, just outside the city centre. The rallycentre is situated at "Zaal Blommenhof", G. Gezelleplein (right behind the church, just past "service in". Finally, the FIRC village is located at the front parking of the school, on your right hand, "before service out" .
It's still possible to book, but the timing is based on 130 cars. With already 146 teams booked in, it will be a full house again at Staden. More news after the press conference next friday
overview chart Staden: link
|Usefull adresses for round 3||2010-07-08|
Rally Centre: Schoolstraat 45B, Ettelgem
|Entry List Geko Rally van Wervik||2010-05-06|
The entry list of the GEKO Rally van Wervik van be found online: link
20 crews enter the second round of the FIRC:
|Results en standings ORC Online||2010-05-06|
The results of the ORC Rally are now online: link
|ORC CANAL Rally info||2010-05-06|
Four days before the first FIRC event we can conclude that a very nice entry list can be presented:
- Anderson Guy - Bull Andy (Mitsubishi Galant VR4)
Entrant Chris Rixon will not compete in the event due to an accident last weekend.
In the ORC CANAL Rally a FIRC village will be set up to have all FIRC drivers. More information will be provided on arrival in the ORC Rally.
The full entry list can be found on the ORC website or through this link: http://www.orc-rally.be/?pagina=deelnemerslijst.
|New and final regulations FIRC 2010!||2010-04-06|
|After long technical meetings with VAS we have the final technical regulations concerning the entries in the FIRC.
Please have a look via this link
|First entrant ORC CANAL Rally||2010-03-25|
|The organization of the ORC CANAL Rally, first round of the Challenge, has announced their first FIRC entrant. Patrice Wattinne already announced his participation on the full Challenge.|
|As from now you can find the regulations for the Flanders International Rally Challenge via the link below:
|HRCR Show in Gaydon||2010-02-19|
|Visiting the HRCR in Gaydon was fantastic. Many flyers and posters were handed out. The interest of British drivers in FIRC is huge! Also had a chat with some sponsors and partners.
FIRC will be fantastic :)
|Site is launched||2010-02-19|
The organizers of the Flanders International Rally Challenge are proud to present you their website. If you have any remarks or suggestions: info (at) firc.be
Update after SS6
After 6 events we can give you a review of the first event of the FIRC Championship 2011. In modern classifications the reign of Andy Rowe and Cat Lund is not over. After winning the inaugural Flanders International Rally Challenge in 2010 they are well underway winning the first event of this years challenge. He is still driving the old Evo 3 and is 7th overall in the ORC standings. A fantastic performance knowing there are 3 WRC cars in front of him. Second – and new in the challenge – is Joost Custers, who follows on 1’08. The other fast Dutchman Martijn Broekhuizen driving an ex-Bijvelds Mitsubishi Evo 6 in Makinnen design is third but already after 1’59. Eep Borgers, last year second in the challenge has a gap of 2’12 on Rowe-Lund. However, with the pointsystem he does not have to despair. He is still first in his class while Rowe, Kusters and Broekhuizen are competing in the same class and are therefore fighting in similar cars. At the Historic Division Dominic Fratarolli is leading (15th place overall in ORC classifications) in his unique Datsun 240Z. Together with Flemish Codriver Jannick Breyne he has an FIRC overall lead of a minute and half on John Morgan who is making his debut in the FIRC Historic part. Third overall is John Legg and is almost two minutes behind Fratarolli. Legg is codriven by Colin Degroote making his debut in English Pacenote! Keith Pettitt, winner of the Historic Cup in 2010 is making his debut in the new Ford Escort MKI and is in 6th overall, behind the Mini Cooper S of Les Allfrey. All FIRC Drivers – except Marcel Borgers, son of – are still in the race. Fantastic given the many ditches, the slippery roads and the stiff competition.
Nog twee weken geduld, en we kunnen opnieuw FIRC-rallyrijden. De inschrijvingen lopen vlot binnen, ook in Wervik komen meer dan 100 teams aan de start. Zowat alle FIRC deelnemers zijn er opnieuw bij, Morgan en Allfrey geven forfait wegens hun deelname aan de Ypres Historic Rally, ook Dominic Frattaroli zou er om deze reden niet bij zijn, maar moet zelfs in Ypres Historic aan de kant blijven. De schade aan de Datsun 240Z is te groot na zijn zware crash in ORC Canal Rally en zal niet op tijd klaar zijn. We wensen het team veel moed in de heropbouw van deze unieke, pijlsnelle wagen. Ook een aantal franse teams is er niet door hun deelname aan een wedstrijd voor de 'Coupe de France' in Normandië hetzelfde weekend, we zien hen later terug in de Rally van Staden, midden augustus. De KP's rond Wervik hebben hetzelfde karakter als grote broer Ypres Rally, dit betekent dat heelwat toppiloten hun wagen komen afstellen. Nu al zijn er 3 S2000's ingeschreven, er komen nog een paar snelle gr. N's bij, ook aan WRC's geen gebrek. FIRC is natuurlijk een wedstrijd in de wedstrijd, maar toch kijken we uit naar de tijden van bvb Rowe en Thomson in het algemeen klassement, of Dawe en Borgers bij de 2WD . We vragen ons ook af welke tijden de nieuwe namen in de FIRC gaan neerzetten. Wervik is een erg uitdagende rally met moeilijke proeven, als de weergoden niet willen meewerken is het hek helemaal van de dam. Het kampioenschap zou er erg interessant kunnen uitzien na deze tweede manche...
De reglementen vindt u terug op de site van de wedstrijd, www.scuderiavervica.be Nog even vermelden dat er opnieuw zal toegezien worden op de brandvrije pull, dit keer zonder uitzondering. In ORC Canal Rally waren er nog enkele teams die deze niet bijhadden. Toen werd er nog een oogje dichtgeknepen, nu niet meer. Ook nog even verduidelijken dat copiloten die al HANS hebben, geen neksteun moeten dragen. Tot slot is het belangrijk om weten dat de verkenningen slechts toegelaten zijn tot 17u 's avonds, dit omwille van een wielerwedstrijd die het parcours dwarst later op de avond. Het roadbook kan evenwel opgehaald worden vanaf 10u, dus er is tijd genoeg. De technische keuring start vanaf 18u.
Update after leg 3 of GEKO Rally van Wervik
After three legs of the 37th GEKO Rally van Wervik, second round of the FIRC a lot has already happened. For Andy Rowe and Cat Lund, who have won the inaugural Flanders International Rally Challenge in 2010, it is the first time the Mitsubishi Evo3 did not finish. A broken turbo forced them to withdraw from the race. Andy and Cat, obviously disappointed, will not take any points in this round except the two points for not finishing. The two points are given to any driver who doesn’t finishes an event but with these two extra points the championship may not be lost. Andy and Cat won the first event in ORC and were again at the top of the classifications of this challenge. Who knows what it will give at the end of the season with not scoring points at the FIRC today.
Eep Borgers, winner of the overall 2WD cup in 2010 and also winner of the 2WD cup in the first round of 2011 is at this time 4th in the 2WD cup, but has to accept his superior to the newcome Hazebrouck Pierre Antoine and Buisine Marine in their Citroen Saxo. Henri Beve is 2nd and Martin De Vere-Packford is third. It looks like Eep is not going to win the 2WD cup in this event. “I had a bad tyre choice this morning and we lost a lot of time during the first round. The car is doing better and better and we go faster and faster every round.” said Eep at the entrance of the service park. It looks like the Frenchmen Hazebrouck and Beve are pushing hard to get this trophy!
In the Historic cup the Brit Keith Pettitt and James McCullough are leading before Damien Gromez, Henry Hardiment and Fabrice Wattinne. Wattinne, who is intending to do every FIRC round in a different car started with a Saab 96 2 Stroke.
John Legg, driving with his regular codriver lewis Davies has had a very bad accident. He went for a total check in the hospital but is gladly uninjured! Also Allan Smith and Graham Chapman had a huge crash but also both driver and codriver are unharmed.
A full review will be posted this week on the FIRC website, also with the points and pictures.
Rowe : 7
FIRC Award Presentation 2011