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Jos fifth in Haspengouw Rally: 'Very satisfied'

Published on 25 February 2024 by Misha van der Kroon

Jos Verstappen has finished the Haspengouw Rally in fifth place. The 51-year-old driver drove his Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 car over the stages in central Belgium together with his navigator Renaud Jamoul. Cédric Cherain was the fastest during the day on the slippery and therefore tricky course. 

It is the first event in the Belgian Rally Championship (BRC), in which Jos is participating again this year. He says: “The stages in Haspengouw are familiar to me, and our notes are good, so we’ll see how things go. The car feels good and the collaboration with my navigator is going well.”

The intention is to drive the entire BRC, Jos continues: “Yes, depending on how well things go. Fun comes first, but we of course do want to be competitive and compete for victories. If for some reason we no longer have a chance in this championship, I might drive a few international rally’s. But now we’re focusing on the BRC.”

Saturday consists of twelve special stages, spread over four stages that each will have to be driven three times. The stages are named Boekhout, Gelmen, Halle-Biethoven and Gingelom. It was a rainy, chilly day, and therefore the track of the rally was treacherously slippery.

In the first round, Jos respectively finished tenth, fifth, eighth and fifth, after which his deficit to leader Cédric Cherain had increased to 32 seconds. Jos, who was seventh at that time, said: “I started the first test a little too cautiously. You have to choose how much risk you want to take, because you don’t know how much mud and slipperiness you can expect. Water on the inside of a corner is difficult for example, because of aquaplaning. I slightly lost control of the car in the third stage.” Maxime Potty, one of the favorites for the victory, also lost time on that stage due to a mistake.

During the second round, Jos finished fifth, ninth, fifth and second, after which he climbed to seventh place in the overall standings of the rally, 48 seconds behind Cherain. The weather had dried up a little, although that didn’t make it much easier. Jos: “There’s a lot of mud in the corners, which makes it difficult to keep the car on the road when exiting that corner, because you have traction problems. It’s very treacherous. The car is good, but during the first round I didn’t have the confidence or rhythm. That went a little better now.”

The third and final round of four stages was the one that went best for Verstappen and Jamoul. The knowledge of the course that they acquired during the day, and the right choice of tyres were converted into very good results. The duo finished first in the first, second and fourth stage, and took the second place in the third stage. Therefore they moved up to fifth position in the final overall standings, 16 seconds behind the winner Charain. Potty finished second at three seconds behind the winner. 

“In the end, it went well,” Jos explains after finishing in the dark. “When it started to dry, we had the confidence and things went a lot better. We started too easy and careful in the morning, and when I pushed harder, I made a mistake. But after that, it got better. The car was great, and the cooperation with my navigator and the rest of the team went well. All in all, I’m very satisfied.”