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Jos wins Monteberg Rally: 'This does me tremendous good'

Published on 07 May 2023 by Heidi De Love

Jos Verstappen has won the Monteberg Rally in a surprising culmination. For Jos, it was his first rally of the year and in the Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 car that was new to him. Together with co-pilot Renaud Jamoul, the 51-year-old driver managed to win his first rally in western Belgium, a handsome achievement.

During the day Jos felt more and more at home on the circuit and after winning the last three stages, he ended on the exact same time as Davy Vanneste. De rules prescribe that the result of the first stage is deciding and since Jos completed that as fastest, he was declared the winner of the Monteberg Rally in front of the Belgian Vanneste.

"This does me tremendous good. It was a difficult period for me because I couldn't drive for a few months," said a wide grinning Jos. "For me to come back this way, I'm super satisfied with that. When it started to rain during the day, it was treacherously slippery, but then I was able to take back time. I'm very happy with my first rally win."

Unlike racing on a track, rallying comes down to anticipating the ever-changing conditions on a test. If only because with every car that goes over it, there can be more sand on the asphalt. Jos did test in preparation, but that was mainly to get to know his new car. He says: "Especially in the beginning of the year we tested. But testing is different from driving an actual test, because in a test you can drive over the same test every time. A rally is what it's all about. Then you can't practice and you have to be there right away. This Skoda feels slightly different than the Citroën I drove last year, which is also a very good car", Jos explained. "The Skoda gives more confidence in the fast corners, but there is a little less grip at the front, in the slower corners."

The day consisted of eleven special stages, over three different circuits, all of which (except one) were run four times. Jos: "I know the stages better than last year, when I drove here for the first time. It was half dry and half wet and therefore more slippery than expected. On the second stage, during the first circuit, I made a mistake when braking on the slippery asphalt and when turning in I shot straight ahead. There I think I lost twelve seconds of time."

In the first stage on Dikkebus, Monteberg and Busseboom, Jos finished first, fourth and third respectively. In stage two, P2, P3 and P2 were added. Meanwhile, there were rain showers on the Belgian course. "It was hard towards the end," Jos said. "In Dikkebus I accidentally pushed the button on the handbrake. As a result, the brakes were blocked. It took a few seconds before I realized what was wrong. I don't know the Skoda that well yet. We're close but it's those little mistakes that shouldn't happen."

The third stage ended well with P2, P2 and first place. Thus, after nine special stages Jos was in second place in the overall standings, just ten seconds behind Davy Vanneste with co-pilot Kris D'Alleine. A handsome performance. "This round was flawless, which was good," Jos says. "We are learning."

The final stage over Dikkebus and Monteberg earned Jos two more first places above expectations. This brought Verstappen's total to four stage wins. Because Vanneste had meanwhile received a ten-second penalty for a false start on the third stage and also lost ten seconds on the last stage after going straight, both men had exactly the same finishing time at the end of the day: 57:54.30. But since the result of the first stage is decisive in that case and Jos had won it, Verstappen was declared the winner of the Monteberg Rally after a surprising twist at the end.

Jos' rally program also includes three rallies from the Belgian Rally Championship: the Sezoens Rally on May 20th, the Rally of Bertrix on June 10th & 11th and the Ypres Rally on June 23rd & 24th.