Reviews & Reports‎ > ‎2012 Reviews‎ > ‎

2012 - 11e Intern Gapers Tour - 29th Apr

11e Intern. Gapers Tour - 29th April 2012

(oops! - Dippy nearly did not make it!)

This was to be the third time of entering this event for Dippy and crew and, as usual, the host town was the wonderful historic Ypres, lying just 100kms south-east of Calais. As you may have read in our previous reports, we have not had the best of reliability in this area and this year was to be no exception.

After a very pleasant drive to Folkestone, fate struck once more. Whilst we were waiting to board the train to France, the starter motor decided it did not want to engage with the flywheel. Quite embarrassing when you are the car stuck in the middle of many others. 

But, with a little bit of help and a bump start, we were soon back at the main car park to wait for the AA. Great service here - it took just 20 minutes for the mechanic to arrive, a further 15 minutes to apply some oil to a sticking starter bendix and we were then on our way.

Sunday morning started quite dull, but at least the overnight rain had stopped. At 08.00 hours we joined the other 138 entries at the well-known venue of Hotel de Hollemeersch for breakfast and documentation. This hotel features on many of the closed road rallies that take place in this area and is very close to the famous public road hill climb. 

As in past events, Vincent, Dirk and the Kemmel Historic Comite team had put together a most comprehensive road book and very clear set of paperwork - even down to a road book in miles as well as kms., plus other instructions in English. A very nice touch for us visitors - thank you!

At around 09.30, cars started to leave the start - the more competitive ones being selected by the local policeman to go first. We left some 45 minutes later and completed the short prologue section to the event start proper. 

As with other Kemmel-organised events, the road book contained the road names of all the small roads to be traversed and, in order to make sure the competitors have stayed on the right route, many of these road names have to be recorded on the time card by writing in just the first three letters. Great fun when some are facing the way you have just travelled! 

Also there were a set of 12 photographs of various signs and monuments to be identified and recorded in the order that we passed them. We found that the best way to deal with these was to stick the photographs around the inside of the car and try and commit them to memory. We suspect that the locals’ knowledge of the area is of considerable help in this task – so not much hope for us!

The roads on the first section were typical of the area: quite tight with lots of 90 lefts and 90 rights. Just under 50kms of this brought us to Sporthal De Skeure for the first refreshment break. Pleasantly refreshed, we set off on Leg 2, passing through the Hooglede area of Belgium and using many roads not seen on previous events. After another 34kms, we arrived at De Oude Melkerij in Gits, where a superb 2-course lunch with drinks was served with military precision to the hungry competitors.

The weather had now improved and we were treated to a very nice summer’s day - the sort we have enjoyed in Belgium on past events. Fully refreshed and rested, the more competitive cars left the venue at 14.00 hours with ourselves taking the start a while later. There was now another 49kms to cover on Leg 3, passing the areas of Staden and Langemark to reach another stop at the Tegelhuis in Boezinge. The last leg was to cover over 51kms back to the morning’s start venue and contained some very interesting and testing roads for both driver and navigator.

Back at the hotel, there was time to take a beer in the sunshine whilst waiting for the results to be declared. Dippy and crew had fared well on the road names but those elusive photographs let us down again - the end of term report should read, “Could do better”. But we did not come away empty-handed - we were awarded a voucher for €30 to go towards next year’s event for being the furthest-travelled crew. 

Our sincere thanks to all the Kemmel team for yet another superb tour. We can highly recommend other UK competitors to try one of these events and promise you will not be disappointed. There is always a warm welcome waiting for you in Belgium. Our next trip there will be in August for a special VIP event aimed at British entrants - all the details can be found on the Kemmel website under British Tour.

Once again our sincere thanks to Peter Fieldhouse for all his help with this report.             

Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dippy