Legend Boucles @ Bastogne 2019/Legend
Mikko Hirvonen confirms international dominance!
With no less than six forest regularity stages on the programme, kicking off with the 42 kilometres bravery piece of the Ardoisière, it was clear that everything would be played for this Sunday when it came to victory of the Legend Boucles @ Bastogne 2019. A decisive day that started off without the presence of Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, the engine of their powerful small Opel Corsa A having taken a final thrashing during Saturday’s stage, obliging the official WRC Hyundai driver to making a wise and prudent choice.
Even though Fred Caprasse (Ford Escort MK2) was heading up the rankings early on, the Ardoisière run immediately allowed Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Escort MK2) to take over the reins. Over the course of the RTs it was clear that the Finn was mastering the situation, keeping to a high pace but being prudent on the icy sections. Outcome: this other quadruple world rally champion confirmed the international dominance in these Legend Boucles @ Bastogne, succeeding the Frenchman Bryan Bouffier in the record of achievements so dear to RAC Spa.
“I’m particularly delighted with this victory, because it’s an event so different from the others, Hirvonen commented just prior to climbing on to the podium. Nothing was simple today, and I must admit at I was impressed by the level of the Belgian drivers, all playing for all out victory. On top of that, what a crowd at the various special stages! Without a doubt, rally in Belgium is highly popular … “
Behind this international star of the 2019 vintage, the battle was hard fought, and race incidents were in abundance. Adrian Fernémont (Ford Escort MK2) had a straight on which cost time in RT15 Lunch Garden Libramont. Two sections further on, in the Mandarine, it was Cédric Cherain’s (Ford Escort MK2) turn to commit an error, damaging the left front of his machine. As for Ghislain de Mévius (Nissan 240 RS), perfectly on pace since the morning, he wound up in a pile of snow, costing him precious minutes.
In these conditions Fred Caprasse managed to hang on to second place overall behind Hirvonen, offering an impressive one-two for Christophe Jacob’s Escort MK2 Rallying Solutions. “Not much to say when one is behind a driver such as Mikko Hirvonen, the Tenneville based driver added. He passes up front when he decides to, and it was unstoppable. We did our best to keep up the pressure, but to no good. Third last year, second this year, I leave you to guess our objective for the following edition … “
Adrian Fernémont ended his discovery of historic rallying and the Legend Boucles @ Bastogne on the lowest tread of the podium, ahead of a Georg Berlandy (Opel Kadett GT/E) who defended his reputation, and who admitted to having completed in the ‘greatest rally of his life’! The top 5 was completed by Yves Matton (Porsche 911), always pushing hard, who preceded Jean-Pierre Van de Wauwer (Lancia Beta Monte-Carlo), whose Italian machine ran like clockwork, an excellent Benoît Galand (Peugeot 504 Coupé V6), Ghislain de Mévius, a Marc Duez (BMW M3) retaining his popularity rating, and a Cédric Cherain who tried everything, and even more, admitting to having thoroughly enjoyed himself on this course ‘for the big boys’.
Worth noting that this second stage, emblematic of these Legend Boucles @ Bastogne, allowed various competitors who had retired the previous day, but set off again in Rally2, to prove their worth. Starting with the young Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet (Citroën Visa 1000 Pistes Gr.B), who took great pleasure in impressing the followers, as also Marc Timmers (Ford Sierra XR 4x4) and Gino Bux (Ford Escort MK1), who put in good performances, without being able to lay claim to anything in the overall rankings.
In the other categories – which will be revealed in upcoming communiqués -, victories went to the locals Charles Blérot and Antoine Dauby (BMW 325i) in ‘Challenger’, as also Marc Van Dalen and Julien Minguet (Ford Escort MK2), who made it a double in ‘Classic’ following their victory in 2018.
More shaken up than hurt for Pierre Delettre
News quickly spread in the media and the social networks that the organiser of the Legend Boucles @ Bastogne, Pierre Delettre, had been taken unwell this Sunday afternoon on the Place McAuliffe. Promptly taken in hand by the medical services he was transported to the hospital in Bastogne, prior to returning to his hotel room in the evening. More shaken up than hurt …
Also reassuring news for Anne-Marie De Donder, another major link in the RAC Spa organisation, following an incident she experienced near the main marquee.
As such it was a particularly intense 2019 edition that came to an end this Sunday evening, with a podium drenched in champagne and a Mikko Hirvonen who can be thought of as being a winner of an XXL event at all levels …
Photos free or rights: Letihon.be
Final over rankings
- Hirvonen-Ottman (Ford Escort MK2)
- Caprasse-Razzi (Ford Escort MK2, +129,00)
- Fernémont-Maillen (Ford Escort MK2, +211,00)
- Berlandy-Schaaf (Opel Kadett GT/E, +410,00)
- Matton-Podgorny (Porsche 911, +572,00)
- Van de Wauwer-Surinx (Lancia Beta Monte-Carlo, +623,00)
- Galand-Barvaux (Peugeot 504 Coupé V6, +722,00)
- De Mévius-Jalet (Nissan 240 RS, +796,45)
- Duez-Castelein (BMW M3, +995,00)
- Cherain-Herman (Ford Escort MK2, +1009,00)