“A fantastic feeling! ”
Finally! Hermen Kobus grabs his first big international win. In the East Belgian Rally, the second last race of the Belgian Championships, Hermen drove his Skoda Fabia R5 painted in Kroon-Oil colours and driving on Kumho tyres to victory. Belgian’s finest in rally sports were beaten in a thrilling finale.
After the disappointment of the Hellendoorn rally Hermen Kobus was cautious in his predictions for the East Belgian Rally, his personal favourite of the Belgian Championship, where he ended up on stage twice before. However, after having explored the track, Hermen already got more confident.
This track is absolutely beautiful and I am certainly trying to stay close to Freddy Loix. Meanwhile I have recovered from the flew that bothered me in Hellendoorn, so I’m ready, Hermen laughed on Friday before the start.
With the fastest time on the 5th stage Hermen and his co-driver Erik de Wild proved that they could compete for the podium’s top spot.
“Today we have got support from Skoda’s engineer that also works for Freddy Loix. That really makes a difference, because he is able to adjust the mapping of the engine, enabling us to drive closer to the maximum turbo boost. I am trying to stay close to Freddy and Kris Prince, to surprise them in the evening darkness…”
After Belgian champion Freddy Loix had to give up the rally due to a differential problem, three drivers with just a minimal difference went into the final round. Verschueren took the lead with a 2”2 advantage on Hermen Kobus and 2”3 on Kris Princen. There were only three stages left…in the dark. On the first Princen was fastest, followed by Hermen on 0”3, whereas Verschueren had dropped 4”2. The Peugeot driver took the lead from Verschuren, but Hermen followed on only 0”2. On the second last stage Kobus was 1” faster than Princen, which gave the man from Lichtenvoorde, The Netherlands a 0”8 lead before the last stage. On the final stage again he was 1”5 faster than the former Belgian Champion. Hermen Kobus and Erik de Wild took the win! A gigantic cheer went up.
“Finally! We have our first win and it’s a beautiful one, because all top competitors were present and according to all drivers this is one of the most difficult and most beloved races in Belgium. The pace was incredible all day long. For a moment I thought we wouldn’t make it, because my braking zone wasn’t perfect. I have to thank Freddy Loix too for using his side pods in the dark, cause we jammed ours in Hellendoorn,: Hermen smiled whilst hugging his father at the finish line. “This victory proofs that with this Skoda Fabia R5 we have got a car that can win races. What a stunning finale!”.
Also Erik de Wild’s satisfaction was enormous: “Before the last three stages people were talking about us winning, because Hermen has driven here two times before in complete darkness and was really fast. But, this increased the pressure even more, because we were not allowed to get this thought of winning to cross our minds. We needed to stay focussed and attack to the maximum, because Prince is an absolute winner and he drives the Peugeot Belgium car. I have never driven such an exciting race. During the whole day five drivers battled for tenths of seconds….”
The party at the Kobus family was complete, because also the 21-year-old brother of Hermen, Gert-Jan, drove a strong race. Gert-Jan, drove his Ford Fiesta R2 in 12th place overall and won the strong RC4 category. As fastest young driver he won the Junior Award and a wild card for the next race in the BRC, the Condoz Rally.