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2011 - 10 de Gapers Tour


This was to be our second visit to Ypres to compete on the 10 de Gapers Historic Tour, organised by the Kemmel Historic Comite. Our trip to Belgium was organised by Continental Car Tours and spanned over a 3-day weekend.


Day 1 was a very interesting concentration run of 100 kms from the Port of Calais to Ypres, passing through some of the best quiet roads of France and Belgium. En route, a lunch break was taken at the beautiful market town of Cassel before joining up with the other 17 British entries in Ypres.


Day 2 was to be a practice day, with time for getting used to the road book and Belgian signage and also setting up the Brantz in kilometres. The superb road book and information had been put together by the organising club Kemmel Historic Comite. The title for today’s tour was Remember Flanders Fields and, as the name implies, this was to be a route that took in many of the World War 1 sites in this area. The 74km route was split into 2 halves with a lunch stop at the very smart Tearoom Hill 60 which was at one of the sites to be visited. On the route there were 13 sites and places of interest to be visited, all with very comprehensive descriptions and photographs. We managed to visit 12 of them in a very long day; it was a very moving experience and brought home just how those people had suffered in the First World War. The missed site was the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 and there were two reasons for this - one the weather was too good for an inside visit and we would have run out of time as the museum tour took an hour. To finish a superb day, we went to the service at the Menin Gate in Ypres at 20.00 - if you have not experienced this, it is a ‘must- do’.


Now to the event proper - we assembled with the other 193 competitors at the start hotel - de Hotel Hollemeersch - at 08.00; a fantastic spot, overlooking the valley by the side of the cobbled Kemmel Hill Climb. After the usual signing on formalities and fixing of rally plates, we set to marking up the 26-page road book with our personal notes. The superb road book was of the Tulip Style. in both kilometres and miles, but also with all the unpronounceable Flemish road names. Even roads like our whites have their own names; very useful to check you have taken the right route. We adopted a method of using just the first three letters of each road name just as a check and some of these had to be recorded as proof of passage. At 09.30 hours we left the start and travelled via Elverdinge, Boezinge, Houthulst, Staden, Handzame and Ichtegem to a garage on an industrial estate for the first rest stop.


After a short break, the route now continued via Jabbeke and Meetkerke to the lunch halt at Hotel Floreal near Blankenberge on the north Belgium coast. A superb 3 course lunch was served to about 450 people, which only took one and a half hours to complete - what service! It was then time to get back to the car for Part 3.


The route now turned south via Eernegem, Koekelare, Bovenkerke and Werken, to an afternoon drinks’ stop in Zuidschote. Part 4 of the route was taking us back in the direction of the start hotel and went via the villages of Vlamertinge and Kemmel and we arrived at the finish at 18.00 hours. The route of over 220 kilometres had been superb, with a mix of roads, mostly traffic-free, but very demanding on the driver and co-driver. At 19.30 hours the awards were presented, but sadly there were no British competitors on the list - we suspect local knowledge does play a big part in rallying in Belgium.


There was just one last surprise for us: we were awarded the trophy and hamper for the crew who had travelled the most kilometres to the start - in our case 510km. Our thanks go to the organising team for a superb event, we shall return next year.


Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy.