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2014 Hoppelandrit 8th Nov


To round off our very busy tour season, we decided to place an entry in the Hoppelandrit, an event organised by the Legend Car Organisation in France, under the guidance of President Philippe Desbouvrie and Secretaire Luc Vandystadt. The organisation had run a very successful, full-blown Classic and Historic Rally for 3 years and this year had decided to add a tour category as an addition to the weekend’s motorsport.

The small town of Godewaersvelde on the French and Belgium borders was the host for all the activity. The main rally had attracted a healthy entry of over 60 cars, split into the Hoppeland Festival, Hoppeland Historic & Classic and Hoppeland Rally Legend – Regularity. 

It was good to see the UK represented by 4 full car crews - 2 Escorts, an Avenger and a very nice-sounding Ford Anglia. There was also another UK co-driver sitting alongside a Belgian driver in an Escort Mk. 2. 

The recce action for all these wonderful cars took place on Friday, with the 316 km event taking place on Saturday. The route used the classic small roads that abound in this area and was split into 3 loops of 3 stages.

The tour event used the Café L’Estaminet in the town centre for the start and breakfast facilities. After signing-on, there was time to mark up the very clear and precise road book, but, as with other French events, there are no distances shown between the tulip diagrams. However, every junction to be passed is shown; just make sure you do not miss a slot!

The first car away on the tour, which had 40 plus entries, was at 09.00 hours, the main rally starting an hour later and the last stages would be run in darkness. From the start car park, the tour entries drove to the end of the town and through the indoor podium for a photo-shoot. We were soon out into the country lanes, travelling in a south-westerly direction towards Caestre. The first observation we made was just how slippery the roads were due to a lot of mud being deposited by the recent farming activities. So, caution - and not too much right foot - was the order of the day!

To make sure the entrants stayed on the organisers’ planned route, small letters are stuck to Give Way and other road signs and these are to be recorded on the time card. Just north of Strazeele, the road book gave a printed map to be followed, more codes to be recorded and a distance covered on this section as an additional check on who kept to the correct route. A marshal at the end of the map section punched the time card as proof of passage.

The route now headed in a westerly direction, crossing the main TVG line a number of times on the way to La Maison Blanche. A short run on the D933 and it was then back the maize of 90 lefts and rights which would take us to the first drink stop in Buysscheure for the end of Leg 1, which had accounted for 56.28 km. There was time to relax and take our drinks outside the café in the glorious morning sun; it was just like a high summer’s day. Rest over, the route - still going clockwise - turned to the north-east, passing by Arneke, where we saw a group of Brits erecting the Union Flag at one of the WW1 cemeteries in readiness for the next day’s Remembrance Day commemoration. This was a very touching sight.

Between Ledringhem and Winnezeele, the roads chosen were a real delight - many loops and turns to keep both crew members occupied. A crossing of the main A25 – E42 brought the event to the well-known venue of L’Oasis for the lunch halt, this second leg having added another 47.92 km to the total. Time Card 1 was duly handed in and we sat down to a first-class, 3-course hot meal. At 14.10 hours, Philippe issued entrants with Road Book 2 and Time Card 2 and released the cars at minute intervals. The direction of travel had now been reversed to anti-clockwise and we would use some of the same roads as the morning’s run. Back over the auto route to the north of Winnezeele to start another printed map section at Ryveld was quite challenging with lots of junctions that circled Terdeghem. We were very pleased to reach the finish marshal for another card punch and to be told not many other entrants had found his control. The route now continued to le Peuplier and, from here, further extremely good use of the small, quiet roads brought us to the small town of Borre for another drink stop. Leg 3 had been 44.36 km long.
More interesting roads took us past la Courte Croix, le Coq de Paille and to the hilly area of the Monts des Cats, where the views were stunning. A loop to the south and then north passing Mont Noir to Boeschepe, followed by a short westerly run, brought the final leg of 36.33 km to an end in the start town of Godewaersvelde. To complete our day, there was a final run over the podium and then to the café. The results were soon announced and the awards presented. We were very happy with our result of 9th overall. Sadly, we were too tired to wait for the main field to return at 20.45 - we just hope they had enjoyed the event as much as we had!

Congratulations to Philippe, Luc and the LCO team for a fantastic, compact event that made superb use of the country roads and did not go further than 25 km from the start venue. Also being extremely good value at €80 for a crew of 2, we would highly recommend this event to other UK entrants.  


Our sincere thanks to Peter Fieldhouse for all his help in proof-reading and editing our report.


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Hilary and Mike Stratton plus Dirty Dippy - Car 12