While several leading crews focussed on the battle for the overall title, Steven Smith and Phil Spurge had no such concerns and duly won round seven of the Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Historic Tour of Flanders (11-13 September).
The Porsche 911RS won category two, while Darren Moon and Chris Parsons had an impressive run in their Escort Mk2 to win category three. In category one, another victory for Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) sets up a championship cliff-hanger with David Stokes and Guy Weaver (Escort Mk1) for the final event of the season.
With championship scores uppermost in their minds, Nutt and McBride knew they had to be quick and safe, and that was the story of their rally. The Tuthill-tended Porsche 911 never missed a beat as they swept clear during a long tough Saturday leg in the lanes around Roeselare.
In fact, the only real worry of the day was when one of Dessie's contact lenses slipped out of position and left him struggling for vision. With that little issue fixed for Sunday's shorter leg, it was back to business as usual for a resounding category victory.
However, they could never relax too much as Rikki Proffitt and Bob Duck – a late stand-in co-driver – had a fine run in their Porsche 911. "This is my first special stage event in Europe," admitted Rikki, who loved every minute of driving the Porsche in Belgium.
Third in category one and victory in class B1 went to Gary and Jane Edgington in what was sometimes a challenging event in the Singer Chamois. Their biggest problem was a persistent misfire that hung around all day Saturday, but they came through smiling to give the little car another monster result. "Today's been good," said Gary at the finish on Sunday, relieved to finally have the car running cleanly.
They finished well clear of class B1 rivals Peter Horsburgh and Graham Carter who made a welcome appearance in their Mini Cooper. "I'm a bit rusty," said Horsburgh on his first BHRC event for over a year. They nose-dived into a field on Saturday but some willing spectators got them going again.
Smith and Spurge bagged the lead of category two on the opening Beveren stage on Friday evening. Despite Spurge being new to Belgium, they stayed ahead throughout and their only scare came at the end of the third Izegem stage on Saturday with a high-speed spin.
Somehow they avoided the ditches, but it was a big moment to end the day. Some rain on Sunday morning did no harm to their chances and they reeled off Sunday's eight stages to take a resounding victory. "We loved it; fantastic fun," said Smith.