Top names for the tenth Legend this coming Friday
With Alen, McRae and the best Belgians, the Boucles is moving to Bastogne.
Following the much discussed and historic move during the winter season, the 57th edition of the Boucles will start from the Place McAuliffe in Bastogne. In excess of 220 historic rally cars, several renowned names and tens of thousand spectators – and perhaps some snow – are expected for the new 200 km course (18 Regularity Tests with 70% new stages and 30% on un-paved surfaces) on Friday evening, when the traditional secret prologue kicks off.
In the Boucles it has become a tradition for a number of top players to head on down to challenge the best Belgian drivers. As such this year Markku Alen at the wheel of a 131 Abarth Group 4 will once again be amongst the challengers. This car looks very much like the car with which he clinched the first of his 19 World Championship victories and then the World Title (trophy) back in 1978. Two legends are being reunited, because Denis Giraudet (last foreign co-driver who won the Boucles together with François Chatriot 1994) will be seated next to the Finn. We all hope that the Milano Racing Fiat puts in a strong performance through to the finish.
Alister McRae, the bother of the regretted Colin, had so much fun in the Boucles last year that he decided to travel on up from Australia to Bastogne, with a Ford Escort MKII BDA Group 4 teamed up with Stéphane Prévot.
As such François Duval will be going head to head against two former World Championship competitors and he knows whom he has to beat to claim his third consecutive victory. This time around he will once again be at the wheel of a fast Ford Escort Group 4 out of England. Our former WRC winner will also need to take on some fast Belgians, amongst whom Jean-Pierre Van de Wauwer (Lancia Beta Monte-Carlo), Bernard Munster, Patrick Snijers and Marc Duez (Porsche). François de Spa will be in a Ford MKI, as also the Ford of the Brit Tim Pearcey, De Borman and Delhez.
Once again the three musketeers are together, seeing Robert Droogmans will also be on hand and will be celebrating his 60th birthday. For the occasion he will be at the wheel of a Visa 1000 Pistes Group B. We will also see the former European Champion Bruno Thiry in a similar four-wheel drive car. Should it snow all the ‘quattro’ drive cars are not to be underestimated and amongst them definitely the two Audi Quattro manned by the German Thomas and that of François Verbist.
Last year Cédric Cherain (Opel Manta) was on the podium and this time around once again he is a candidate for a place up front.
For the show and originality we must not forget the Frenchman Deveza (Porsche), Chieusse (R5 Turbo), Lethier (Peugeot 504 V6) and Mourgues (Escort), as also the Opel Manta 400 of Jorissen, the Peugeot 205 of Marc Timmers, Deferm’s BMW and the Porsche of Hansen, Mondron and Kelders at the wheel.
Circuit drivers are also present with the Porsche of Maxime Martin, the Escort of Fred Bouvy, Alexis Van de Poele and Pierre Merche, the BMW 2002 of Kenis and a further 911 for Geoffroy Horion.
And finally it is worth noting the participation of Guy Verhofstadt in Classic at the wheel of a Fiat Ritmo Abarth.
On Friday evening the first car takes the start at 18.30hrs for the secret prologue, while the competitors will be at the start on Saturday morning at 09.00hrs. They will be preceded by seven cars out of the Demo category with two Audi Quattro S1 Group B, a Peugeot 205 T16 Gr.B, a Toyota Celica 4WD, a Subaru Impreza as also two Lancia Delta Integrale amongst which the former Markku Alen Martini. The arrival is foreseen around midnight, whereby the entire Saturday is free for all the spectators, but they will be asked to purchase a programme book, accompanied by a free pair of gloves or a bonnet. The start numbers, the maps and the timing are to be found in the 64 pages thick programme book. This will be on sale as from Saturday morning at 07.00hrs.
Last but not least, on Friday as from 17.45hrs Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul will be on hand in the centre of Bastogne for an autograph session.