The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

First Ever Belgian Crew To Win The Classic Poppy Regularity Rally

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

LONDON – Marc 22, 2013: The third Poppy Regularity Rally in Ypres, Belgium, was won for the first time by a Belgian crew who came in first over 60 classic cars. The event was organised by the Classic Rally Association (CRA) during the weekend of March 15-17th.

Jeremy Dickson, CRA’s Event Director, said: “This was the first event we run since becoming part of the HERO group and would like to thank the team at HERO for their support leading up to the Poppy Rally. As part of a combined organisation we will be able to provide a better experience for classic rallying enthusiasts and remain as the leading organisers of European Regularity Events.”

The event that attracted crews from ten different countries, including Japan, Canada, the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands served as the first qualifying round of the 2013 HERO Cup, in association with EFG International, as well as being once again a round of the FIA Trophy for Historic Regularity Rallies,.

Patrick Burke, Managing Director of the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation (HERO), competed in the event and said: “We had a variety of cars and a good mix of international crews taking part. Participants came extremely well prepared as well which made the rally and tests very competitive. It was fantastic, pure classic rallying!”

Bad weather with snowfall in the days leading up to the event had led to fears that many sections of route would be lost but sterling work by the local organisers and event course cars minimised the changes to the route.

The event started well on Saturday morning from the main square in Poperinge, near Ypres, with great support from the local people who stopped to watch the great variety of classic cars setting off, which ranged from a 1955 Austin Healey 100/4 through to a 1981 Mercedes-Benz 380.

At the end of the first leg on Saturday evening the leading crews were separated only by seconds, which indicated that battle for the top places was going to be fierce on the following day.

The Sunday leg included public road driving and eight tests run on closed roads, in this case in a former kart circuit and at a banked oval circuit. Crews demonstrated great driving skills and an outstanding performance along the tests, which left very small time difference between them when they arrived at the finish back in Ypres.

Jeremy Dickson, CRA Event Director, said: “It was a great demonstration of classic rallying. Crews were very competitive and we didn’t know who the winners were until the last car crossed under the finish arch in the Grote Markt.”

For the first time, the Poppy Rally was won by a local crew formed by Eddy D’Hoe and Bjorn Van Overschelde from Zele, Belgium, in a 1968 MGB GT V8. British team and 2009 winners, Peter Horsburgh from Docking and Anthony Preston from Didcot came in second place in their 1965 Mini Cooper S, just six seconds behind the winners. The podium was completed by John Bateson from Santon and FIA Champion Navigator Iain Tullie from Cumbria who came further eight seconds back in a 1968 MGB.

The Japanese crews, called Team Samurai, were from the University of Tokyo and came to Europe to visit various manufacturing facilities and compete in three different rallies across Spain, Belgium and Italy. Even though they struggled at times with an event that was very different to anything else they had done in the past, they were worthy winners of the ‘Spirit of the Rally’ award.

Patrick Burke added: “We would like to thank the locals for their good spirit and support. At one moment, I got lost and was gently helped by a woman who offered me a cup of tea and pointed me towards the right direction.”

The next Classic Rally Association event is the 25th Pirelli Classic Marathon in June this year, running from Ypres to Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Italian Alps.