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Jos finishes second in Omloop van Vlaanderen rally

Published on 02 September 2023 by Misha van der Kroon

This weekend, Jos Verstappen and navigator Renaud Jamoul participated in the Omloop van Vlaanderen rally, which is part of the Belgian Rally Championship (BRC). The 51-year-old finished second in his Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 car after a strong performance and an extremely exciting battle.

The Omloop van Vlaanderen started on Friday with five stages, of which the last one was driven in the dark. This is the first time for Jos to participate in this rally, and he had a great start from the Rally centrum in Roeselare. After the fifth stage, he ended the first day in second place overall, just three seconds behind leader Niels Reynvoet. 

The battle continued on Saturday, with fifteen stages, over a total of length of 139 kilometers. In the first round of five stages (Houthulst, Passendale, De Ruiter, Zilverberg en Zonig), Jos was three times the fastest, and third and second in the other stages. The whole Saturday morning Verstappen was at the top of the ranking, although his lead over Reynvoet was never more than six seconds.    

“A second place, considering the circumstances, is just very good”, explained a delighted Jos to “It was the first time we drove this rally and the pace was there from the start. The car felt amazing, the team did an amazing job, so I’m verry happy. It was slippery with a lot of different types of tarmac. There was no grip, like driving on ice. But even then, the car felt great. I was in a nice rhythm, it was amazing.” 

On the Zilverberg timed stage, Jos did lose some time. “It was a shame I made a mistake on stage 19. I was blinded by the sun and paying more attention to that than the pace notes Renaud was calling. I missed to note that after a quick right turn, we immediately had to go left. We missed the left turn by quite a bit and that’s where we lost the battle for first place. Second is also good because it was a great, challenging event that we were able to fully attack. It was a great duel with Niels Reynvoet and I had a lot of fun and we showed proper pace. It was good to be at the sharp end.” 

In the end, Jos won ten of the twenty timed stages, showing he is improving rally after rally. “On Friday night it went well in the dark for the first time. Renaud and I are getting used to each other more and more and we trust each other. If he calls ‘six, full throttle’, I’ll go ‘six full throttle’, I don’t hesitate anymore. The collaboration is getting better and better and it’s great to see that reflected in the results. I really enjoyed driving on the limit in unfamiliar and blind corners. That’s the strength of me and my navigator. I’m really pleased about that, our confidence is high!” 

In the second round of five stages, Jos was second fastest three times, and fastest in the other two stages. Again it was very close with Reynout, and because both teams incurred a time penalty of ten seconds, the difference after fifteen stages, 1:12 hours of driving, was just one tenth of a second.

Jamoul explains why they received a time penalty for checking in too late in a stage: “We were ten seconds late at the time control, because of heavy traffic. Twice we stood at a red light, and on the street to the start we were held up by an oncoming car. We can’t do anything about that. We’ll battle it out in the remaining stages.”

And they did. In the last round over five stages, Jos finished P2, P1, P1, P6 and P1. Unfortunately, they fell 13 seconds behind in stage 19, and they could not make up for it in the final stage. This gave Jos Verstappen and Renaud Jamoul an overall second place, less than seven seconds behind Niels Reynvoet and Willem Verbeke with a total of 1:37 hours. Overall a great accomplishment.