“In sport we can show em­pa­thy”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - Ian Mills

The events in Brus­sels last week were truly ap­palling. The mur­der of in­no­cent peo­ple go­ing about their daily busi­ness was a stark re­minder of the trou­bled age in which we live.

I con­sider my­self for­tu­nate to have come to know some Bel­gian folk through mo­tor­sport. With­out ex­cep­tion, they are good and de­cent peo­ple with a fine sense of hu­mour and a deep pas­sion for our shared sport. I know that one or two of them were very close to last week’s bomb­ings.

In­ter­na­tional pol­i­tics and se­cu­rity is­sues should have no place in our sport, but through sport we can show em­pa­thy and sup­port for those more closely touched by these dread­ful acts.

On a per­sonal level, some of my best mo­tor­sport mem­o­ries stem from Bel­gium. From his­toric rac­ing at the peer­less SpaFran­cor­champs to the snow and ice of the in­cred­i­ble Boucles Rally and his­toric ral­ly­ing in Flan­ders, I’ve had some great times in Bel­gium. And I will con­tinue to do so. Frites and mayo wait­ing for the his­toric crews to ar­rive as the sun set over the ser­vice park in Roe­se­lare is a spe­cial mem­ory.

It has been reg­u­larly said by in­formed com­men­ta­tors that we should not al­low the ter­ror­ists to change our lives. We should carry on do­ing what we do and en­joy the things we choose to do with our spare time. For an aw­ful lot of Bel­gians, that means ral­ly­ing. I well re­mem­ber the in­cred­i­ble at­mos­phere at the bridge at Stoumont as night fell on the Boucles de Spa and a huge crowd, fu­elled by crates of Jupiler, watched the ac­tion. Noisy, en­thu­si­as­tic and good na­tured; these were peo­ple en­joy­ing their sport.

Many Bri­tish rally crews, in­clud­ing a strong con­tin­gent of his­torics, do a lot of ral­ly­ing in Bel­gium. For any­one based in the south east, it is an eas­ier jour­ney than Wales. I sin­cerely hope that they will con­tinue to head into Bel­gian for closed-road ral­ly­ing.

To do any­thing else would be to al­low the ter­ror­ists to re­alise their twisted am­bi­tions.

In less than a month, the new R.A.C. His­toric As­phalt Cham­pi­onship will have its sec­ond round in Bel­gium on Rally Sala­man­dre, south of Charleroi and close to the French bor­der. The event has drawn a fab­u­lous en­try from both sides of the chan­nel and will be a glo­ri­ous ad­vert for his­toric as­phalt ral­ly­ing.

The or­gan­is­ers have bent over back­wards to ac­com­mo­date UK crews in the past. It will be a bril­liant rally and the per­fect way to demon­strate sup­port for the peo­ple of Bel­gium at a dark time in the coun­try’s his­tory.

James How main­tained a per­fect score in the South West­ern Road Rally Cham­pi­onship when he fol­lowed up his win on round one, the festival, with vic­tory on The Devil’s Tour. On this oc­ca­sion he was part­nered by Ross Whit­tock, who man­aged to end his win­less streak on the event.

The pair had only been in 10th place af­ter the nine rain-soaked af­ter­noon tests. They moved to sixth fol­low­ing the short Jogu­lar­ity sec­tion that opened the night leg. How­ever, as ev­ery­one knew, the event would be de­cided on the third part of the rally, the run over in­fa­mous tracks of Sal­is­bury Plain.

So it proved. The win­ners stormed through the plain and emerged with a win­ning mar­gin of over half a minute. Phil Har­ris/ Liam Burns, who had been in the top four all day, took the run­ner-up spot, but had Gavin Rogers/car­rie Rogers three sec­onds be­hind.

Si­mon Hey­wood steered his Honda Civic to fourth, while Kevin Wil­lis rounded out the top five in the plucky Peu­geot 206.

Tim Owen/jake Rams­den went out when they hit a tree on their sec­ond visit to Keevil in the af­ter­noon.

Bel­gium is a hot­bed for his­toric ral­ly­ing

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