First outing of the season was to the Rally Salamandre held around Beaumont in the south east region of Belgium. A change for this rally was that Simon Belcher of Simons Motor Engineers came along to see how Belgium rallies are run. Simon hopes to compete later in Belgium later in the year.
This is Activ8 Motorsports second season in Belgium which is making the organisation easier as we can learn from our previous experiences. This includes setting off the evening before on the rallies in southern Belgium and stopping over in Kent so we can get an early morning ferry and have more time to travel on the other side.
The rally was held over the Easter weekend and once the team arrived at Dover we were glad we got there early as the queues to get into the ferry terminal looked huge. However, they moved remarkably quickly, and we were only delayed around an hour or so.
Rally Salamandre is organised by ASBL Hainaut Motor Club and is the first rally of the year for the Flanders International Rally Challenge. On the Saturday night there is a prize ceremony to celebrate the previous year’s successes. Activ8 Motorsport won 3 prizes which was a great start to our season and sets us a target for this year.
The rally itself consisted of 5 stages which were repeated over 3 legs
- Leval 8km
- Renlies 15km (split)
- Stree 8km
- Ragnie 9km
- Donsteinnes 5km
The sun was out for the whole weekend with temperatures up to 30C. The perfect weather led to some really fast times early on and the requisite high attrition rate with crashes and breakdowns.
It was clear after the first leg that the crew were adjusting after the 5 months lay off over winter. However, once the rust was shaken off the times came down significantly and the teams overall position improved after most stages
Stage 3 passed parallel to the service area which gave the crews the opportunity to watch some of the rally between servicing. Malcolm reported that this stage was deceptively slippy and held to that excuse as he overshot one of the corners in front of all the service crews.
Once again, the car performed faultlessly which as usual highlights the team’s attention to preparation before the event.
The results were great – first place in our class within the FIRC in the first event of year. Taking into consideration the entire field of cars we were about midway which is exactly where we think we should be. Bear in mind the top 15-20 cars are all manufacturer prepared beasts so not comparable to our 20-year-old Impreza.
Big thankyou to the organising club, the marshals and timekeepers who always make the crew feel welcome to their country. Especially good are the English speaking helpers who hover around the scrutineering and documentation areas. We are blessed in having a local in the team, but the helpers are great to guide UK teams through the administrative processes.
Thanks to Steve Santy for calling the notes faultlessly and to the long suffering service crew for putting up with Mr Shouty on the day of the rally.
Having Simon help in the Service Crew was great and we wish him well getting his car ready for later in the year.