Ex-F1 driver Jos Verstappen clinches maiden rally victory in Belgium

Former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen has claimed a first victory in rallying after winning the Monteberg Rally in Belgium.

Jos Verstappen arrives at the circuit

Verstappen, who clocked up 106 starts during his F1 career with Benetton, Simtek, Footwork, Tyrrell, Stewart, Arrows and Minardi, has been a long time fan of rallying, electing to switch to the discipline last year.

His maiden season included an outing at the World Rally Championship round in Ypres last August.

The father of reigning F1 world champion Max Verstappen, who won Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix, claimed his first spoils driving a rally car in peculiar circumstances last weekend.

Competing in a first rally after being forced to withdraw from the Belgian Rally Championship season opener Rally van Haspengouw through illness in February, the 51-year-old ended the asphalt rally’s 11 stages with an identical overall time as rival Davy Vanneste, driving a Volkswagen Polo.

Verstappen, partnered by Renaud Jamoul, who co-drove for WRC driver Adrien Fourmaux, set fastest times on four of the stages, including the Dikkebus test which featured in the Ypres Rally WRC round last year.

However, a 10-second false start penalty followed by a further time loss for Vanneste brought the pair level on the timesheets. In the event of a tie, the rally was decided by times set on the opening stage resulting in Verstappen being declared the winner.

Jos Verstappen and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Jos Verstappen and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing

Photo by: Drew Gibson / Motorsport Images

"This does me tremendous good. It was a difficult period for me because I couldn't drive for a few months," said Verstappen in a report on his official website.

"For me to come back this way, I'm super satisfied with that. When it started to rain during the day, it was treacherously slippery, but then I was able to take back time. I'm very happy with my first rally win.”

Verstappen’s run to victory wasn’t plain sailing as the Dutchman continued to adjust to the Fabia having driven a Citroen C3 Rally2 last year.

“In the beginning of the year we tested. But testing is different from driving an actual test, because in a test you can drive over the same test every time," he added.

“A rally is what it's all about. Then you can't practice and you have to be there right away. This Skoda feels slightly different than the Citroën I drove last year, which is also a very good car.

“The Skoda gives more confidence in the fast corners, but there is a little less grip at the front, in the slower corners.

“In Dikkebus I accidentally pushed the button on the handbrake. As a result, the brakes were blocked. It took a few seconds before I realised what was wrong. I don't know the Skoda that well yet. We're close but it's those little mistakes that shouldn't happen.”

Reflecting on the triumph after winning in Miami, Max Verstappen, added: "I'm happy for him. He definitely spends a lot of time on it. It's nice when things pay off, when you put all that effort in and yet for him, of course, it's kind of a hobby, but he takes it very seriously.

"I got pictures and videos and to see that smile on his face. You never lose that kind of competitiveness and happiness if you do well, right, if you get rewarded for your efforts, so yeah, very happy to see him there, get the trophy."

Verstappen is set to rejoin the Belgian national championship at the Sezoens Rally from 19-20 May.


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