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Jos wins Rallye des Ardennes: 'The notes were perfect again'

Published on 16 March 2024 by Misha van der Kroon

Jos Verstappen has won the Rallye des Ardennes by a large margin. On Saturday, the 51-year-old driver and his navigator Renaud Jamoul drove their Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 car over twelve special stages on the Belgian mountain roads. His main competitor, Maxime Potty, was left behind with a gap of 37.5 seconds. 

“It went great. We make progress with every rally. Driving a lot and sitting in the car together definitely helps. The notes were perfect again, I can't repeat that often enough", says Jos after his win. There are also compliments for the organization. Jos: “The gravel crew really did a perfect job with the right information. That really helps.”

The 70th edition of the Rallye des Ardennes started with light rain. This made the opening round even more difficult for the 40 participants who started the rally in Dinant. The rally consists of four stages, named Custinne, Falmagne, Chevetogne and Fonds de Leffe. Each stage was held three times, making it a total of twelve rounds.

Despite a flat tyre, Jos won the first stage, followed by three second places. After the first round of stages, he was thirteen seconds behind local hero Bastien Rouard. Defending champion Maxime Potty followed in P3. Jos said: “It is my first time participating in this rally, so I’m still looking to find where the grip is and where not. It is very treacherous on all those different types of surfaces. In Chevetogne, I missed a braking point on a slippery stretch of asphalt. To avoid hitting a concrete edge with the car, I had to turn left.”

In the second of four stages, Jos was able to increase the pace, thanks to the experience gained in the first round. As a result, he crossed the finish line as fastest on all four stages. Because Rouard suffered two punctures on the sixth test, Jos took over the lead. In the eighth stage, Rouard had another flat tyre and, since he had no spare wheel, he had to retire from the rally. This means that Jos’ lead after the second round was no less than 39 over Potty. 

“In the second round, on the dry weather tyres, things were a lot better,” Jos explained. “It’s a shame that Rouard had to give up, but I suspect that he took too many risks, as he was still on the wet tyres. My lack of knowledge of the stages affected us in the first round.”

After eight of the twelve stages, Potty seems to have given up and accepted Verstappen’s supremacy: “I cannot make up 40 seconds on the four remaining stages, Jos is going really fast. I’ll be happy if I can match his times. I’m just trying to get my confidence back after a less fortunate opening round,” Potty said.

In the third and final round of the four stages, Jos starts by winning the ninth stage, and increases his lead to Potty to 42.5 seconds. Potty wins the tenth stage, decreasing Jos’ lead with 2.9 seconds. The Dutchman finishes that stage second, and maintains his overall lead with 39.6 seconds, with still two more stages to go. 

Verstappen also wins the eleventh stage, with Potty in P2. With a lead of 42.8 seconds, Jos starts the final stage of the rally, which is driven in the dark. Potty wins this stage 5.3 seconds ahead of Jos, who finishes in P2, together with his navigator Renaud Jamoul. The team finished fastest in seven of the twelve stages, and with a lead of 37.5 seconds, they took the final, overall victory.