It is a ‚typical‘ Belgian summer which leaves rally fans to count down the days to the return competition and the 9th round of the Kroon-Oil Belgian Rally Championship. Fans do not have to wait for so long as on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 August, Club Superstage is organising the Aarova Oudenaarde Rally. It will once again be held partly in the Flemish Ardennes around Oudenaarde and partly in the Pays des Collines in Hainaut. For those wanting to compete, get your registrations in as in exactly one week, on Monday 7 August, the registrations will be closed.
The Aarova Oudenaarde Rally opens Friday evening with a ceremonial start on the beautiful Markt of Oudenaarde, where the teams will be presented on the starting stage. The rally itself will start on Saturday and the participants will immediately cross the language border for the two stages in Frasnes-lez-Anvaing, with the new stage Anvaing (10.87 km) and Pays des Collines (10.38 km). After a regrouping in Saint-Sauveur, a square with a lot of rally history, the stages De Bruwaan (9.19 km), which passes the famous VIP tent, and Kruisem (10.07 km), classics of the Aarova Oudenaarde, will follow. After three loops of these four stages, covering 121 km against the clock, the winner will be honoured on the finish podium in the centre of Kruisem.
A high-class field of drivers is gradually taking shape. The big question is whether the master will continue to dominate his pupils. Freddy Loix proved in the Ypres Rally that he is still very competitive with the new Skoda Fabia RS Rally2. If it weren’t for his flat tyre, he beat all the top drivers of the Belgian championship. Loix is of course the “King of Ypres” with 11 victories, but let’s not forget that he also won the Aarova Rally last year and that he has the optimal local guide next to him in Pieter Tsjoen. Pieter officially won twice in Oudenaarde, although Kevin Abbring was behind the wheel of the Fiesta R5 in 2017.
Maxime Potty is expected to be at the start line, did his Championship challenge no harm in Ypres. Chasing Freddy Loix gives him the ideal reference point. It will be a battle of honour between the young charger and the master, and a win here would add extra shine to a first title of the 23-year-old Citroën driver. There is another young charger who wants to show his “teacher” that he has developed the prerequisite skills. Niels Reynvoet, strong in Ypres, certainly wants to take shot at victory in his home rally. The Orfys driver was already on the podium in the Aarova Rally, so Freddy has been warned.
However, let’s not lose sight of that other East Flemish master. Vincent Verschueren, former Belgian Rally Champion, has won his home race twice and in Ypres he proved that he can compete with the current generation of Belgian stars, even if he is in the previous generation of the Fabia R5. Verschueren, together with Jasper Vermeulen, can always find a little more time on “his” course.
The colours of Hyundai are defended by Gilles Pyck, who wants to confirm his great performance of the Ypres Rally in East Flanders. With more kilometres under his belt, a podium place is not excluded for the fast youngster from Poperinge. We are also curious about the times of Fred Miclotte, who recently achieved his first overall victory with the VW Polo GTI Rally2. In any case, the VW is competitive and the Aarova Oudenaarde Rally is the rally in which the patron of SXM made his debut as a rally driver. Nicola Stampaert, who lives in Frasnes-lez-Anvaing, is familiar with the course, which is very technical and challenging, with many blind spots. The Skoda driver wants to shine in front of his own crowd, just like Jean-Baptiste Broekaert, who opts for a Ford Fiesta Rally2 for this event.
The line-up is far from complete, but a few Porsche drivers also want to get amongst the Rally2s. Just think of regional pilot Tim Van Parijs and Tuur Vanden Abeele, with the ex-Lefevere Porsche 997 GT3. And how high can Benoit Verlinde aim with the surprisingly fast Renault Clio Rally3?
The youngsters of the Clio Trophy Belgium will also be present in Oudenaarde, where Lander Depotter will start as a favourite for his own audience. With Pierre-Manuel Brasseur, Xavier Dekeyser, Aaron Duville and Jo Muylle, Depotter can expect some resistance.
In short, 8th Aarova Oudenaarde Rally on August 18 and 19 will offer a thrilling and entertaining event for Belgium’s best drivers and for rally fans!