Activ8 Motorsports introduction the Belgium rally scene saw the team enter the 6 Uren van Kortrijk which took place over the weekend of 25th – 26th November. The event itself contained 14 special stages, the vast majority on tarmac, running over two days. As the sun set on Saturday night the first and only stage of the evening commenced, followed by thirteen stages run over 4 sections on Sunday varying in length between 5 and 15 km.
The atmosphere throughout the event was magic, both rally organisers and the general public welcoming the 160 competing and service crews to their town.
For this event Jim Dixon, a veteran of rallying in Belgium undertook the role of co-driver. Both Jim and his brother Nick provided invaluable assistance guiding the team throughout the event.
Go to our YouTube playlist for the available in car footage
Phil & Mick sorted the Impreza for scrutineering whilst Jim and Malcolm went out to recce the stages.
The team met up again for registration and scrutineering which took place in the beautiful town centre of Kortrijk which had been closed to general traffic for the weekend. All facilities were housed within two enormous marques which also housed bars and party/disco venues. The start and finish of each leg was in the same place which made for a fantastic atmosphere.
Scrutineering was a new experience for us as there appeared to be a large number of technical inspectors who all had separate jobs and different bits of paper to be signed. The car sailed through as expected and the team returned to the service area to get ready for the first leg later that evening.
One hiccup however very nearly put an end to the event altogether! Having changed into racing overalls Malcolm closed the service van doors only to find his helmet and hans safety equipment were still in there and the locking mechanism on the van door had jammed. With only 15 minutes to go before reporting to the Start Ramp Phil, Mick, Nick and half the service crews in the service area (it seemed it anyway) descended on the service van and managed with varying tools including a grinder!!! to extricate the helmet/hans from the van. Thanks to you all.
The evenings only stage was at a venue named “Mouscron” which is a working recycling plant. Spectators throughout the two days turned out in their thousands with a crowd in excess of 5000 on Saturdays evening.
The crowds shouldn’t have been a surprise as surfaces varied between mud covered concrete and loose shale, exiting onto tarmac roads to the finish outside the confines of the recycling plant. The antics of the crews spinning and sliding over the mud covered concrete were certainly well received by the enthusiastic rally fans.
Mal and Jim took the stage cautiously as there was no point bending the car straight away. That put the team well down the leaderboard, but clearly offered much scope for improvement on the second day!
Sunday saw Malcolm and Jim rocket up the leaderboard. Clearly the conditions varying from dry, damp and deceptively slippery suited the Subaru setup well. By leg 2, section 2 Activ8 Motorsport had climbed just inside the top 40.!
Progress had been somewhat curtailed with a high speed spin into a barbed wire fence on a deceptively slippery mud covered left hand bend ( 1.35 minutes into our in car Hoge2 http://bit.ly/2iHyw1Y) ripping the boot spoiler off in the process playing havoc with the aerodynamics of the Impreza ! (Didn’t really notice a difference at all LOL)
On stage 9 “Tombroek” we were halted for over 10 minutes following an accident due to a previous competitor spinning into a ditch, spectators and fellow competitors finally extricating the Mitsubishi to carry on. The resultant stage time unfortunately saw us drop down to 125th overall as the incident was classified as “force majeure”
Stage 10, a re-run of the Bevergem stage saw the demise of Activ8 Motorsport’s good run when on a fast 6 left bend the Impresa slid wide into a ditch at high speed doing a “wall of death” before dragging itself out onto the road to continue. Unfortunately as the car extricated its self-there was a heavy impact and Jim suffered severe back pain. Although the crew continued very slowly to complete the stage it was decided by Malcolm to call it a day as it would have been foolhardy to continue.
So overall the event turned out to be a “sweet and sour” affair for Activ8 Motorsport. It was Activ8 Motorsport’s first visit to Belgium and the FIRC, and the first time Malcolm and Jim competed as a crew. The teams performance was highly competitive on Sunday and has definitely made the team eager to return to compete in the 2018 FIRC to complete unfinished business.
In conclusion a big thank you must go out to the Organising Team who put on a brilliant event, to all the marshals and emergency services without whom no event can run, to Nick and Jim Dixon at MND Motorsport for continuing technical help and mapping of the Impreza, to Jim for agreeing to sit in with an OAP!!! performing a sterling job in the co-driving seat, and last but not least to the servicing team of Phil & Mick without whom Activ8 Motorsport could never even get to events.