Bernard Munster beats Markko Martin
and takes his place in the Legend
Notwithstanding atrocious weather conditions, with non-stop rain throughout the weekend and strong wind, once again spectators were on hand to watch the Legend Boucles, the highly popular event held at the beginning of the season bringing together 278 teams to the start at Bastogne.
With the regretted absence of the winner of these last three editions, the battle to find François Duval’s successor was wide open. And yet, the fight for overall victory was only to boil down to two drivers.
Having arrived on Thursday to compete in his first Belgian rally Markko Martin, the “Mystery Driver” produced a semi surprise by taking the lead during the first half of the event with his Ford Escort MKII Gr.4. In a style both neat and efficient, the Estonian led during the nine special stages. But at nightfall he was unable to hold off the majestic return of a Munster in the “Macrale”. The only driver able to hold to the 80 km/h average this Courtrai based driver promptly inflicted thirty points on his closest rival. The rally had just taken a turn.
And just when everyone thought that the former five times WRC winner would take full advantage of his world experience and climb back up on the unpaved sections of the second stage, the opposite took place. Taking full advantage of the French tyres visibly far more suited to this type of terrain, “Big Bernie “ put in the screws, while Markko Martin definitely lost all hope of making a comeback when he punctured in the Ardoisière.
As from that moment the Porsche driver merely needed to manage his lead through to the finish with 59,39 less points and claim his second victory in the Boucles, the first in Bastogne and in Legend, his previous success dating back to the modern edition of 1999 with the Subaru Impreza.
“I am truly delighted because I was fed up always finishing in second place”, the bespectacled driver exclaimed teamed up for the weekend by his partner Andrée Hansen. “We set off calmly and just made the difference at the most opportune moments. I thoroughly enjoyed the day on the unpaved course. In my personal opinion they should organise the entire rally in the woods in future. My thanks and congratulations to the entire team as also my co-driver. Notwithstanding the odd family row I am really proud of her”.
Absent from the “World” since ten years, lacking competition, Markko Martin honoured the invitation emanating from the organisers and the MY Vintage. Having produced the penultimate best time, Martin finished with an honourable mention: “ I truly enjoyed myself during these two days. This was my first historic rally and with an Escort and definitely will not be my last. I would like to come back with a little more practice. Thank you for your welcome here. Apart from the weather, everything was perfect … “, Stéphane Prévot’s driver added a further certificate of merit in the Boucles to his record of achievements.
A long time neck and neck with the driver from the East, Jean-Pierre Van de Wauwer completed the final podium having fought off right through to the end the Porsche manned by Yves Matton and Daniel Elena. “What with Jérôme D’Ambrosio in front of me without lights on Saturday evening and a puncture I lost some time, but I’m delighted with this podium place. Congratulations to Bernard, a great winner and especially a very astute guy, and to the organisers for this superb course, “the Lancia Beta Monte-Carlo driver commented after the event.
Comprised out of six RTs, the second day on unpaved ground, a Belgian premiere, delighted both the teams and the spectators even though the driving is somewhat less spectacular than on secret special stages.. Unfortunately lady luck was not on Bruno Thiry’s side. Excellent fourth in the morning at the wheel of his Datsun Violet, the Saint-Vith based driver was soon let down by his gearbox. This was the only major retirement of this second stage that left the British smiling. Both producing three best times, Tim Pearcey and Paul Griffith found themselves in forest sections reminding them of the RAC Historic. Teamed up with the Belgian Louis Louka, Pearcey (Escort) took full advantage of finishing in the Top 5 to the detriment of François De Spa (Porsche) experiencing brake problems since the middle of the day and finally dropping down to 8th place overall. On the other hand Paul Griffith, rather shy on the Saturday, claimed an excellent revenge by scooping the “Unpaved Challenge” reserved for the fastest driver on the Sunday’s sole stage.
The young Fun Cup drivers Fred Caprasse and Edouard Mondron took full advantage of climbing up one place and finishing in worthy 6th and 7th positions. Lacking pace Renaud Verreydt (Ford Escort) and the astonishing Guino Kenis (BMW 2002) completed the overall Top 10.
If one the on hand Grégoire de Mevius, experiencing axle problems, did managed to reach the finish and clock up several good times on the unpaved course and putting up a show, it was not to be the case for Stéphane Lefebvre (engine), Marc Timmers (engine), Freddy Loix (engine) or Cédric Cherain (off road with broken wheel), all forced to throw in the towel without having had a chance to truly enjoy the promised earth …
The final classification (subject to later scrutineering to be carried out this week by the RACB): 1. Munster-Hansen (Porsche 911 Gr.4) 362,72 points; 2. Martin-Prévot (Est-Bel/Ford Escort MKII Gr.4) à 59,39 points ; 3. Van de Wauwer-Paisse (Lancia Beta Monte Carlo Gr.2) at 102,28 ; 4. Matton-Elena (Bel-Mon/Porsche 911 Gr.3) at 129,90; 5. Pearcey-Louis (GB-Bel/Ford Escort Gr.4) at 281,0 ; 6. Caprasse-Razzi (Ford Escort MKII) at 288,48 ; 7. Mondron-Werner (Porsche 911 Gr4) at 316,16, 8. De Spa-Carabin (Porsche 911 Gr.4) at 347,5 ; 9. Verreydt-Elst (Ford Escort MKII Gr.4)at 401,73 ; 10. Kenis-Buysman (BMW 2002 Ti)at 404,39