Switching to a Citroen C4 WRC from the Citroen DS3 WRC he uses in the World Rally Championship, the 29-year-old took victory by more than one minute alongside new co-driver Michiel Poel, who was competing on the event for a 20th time.
A strong start to the rally enabled van Merksteijn Jr to build a commanding lead, which would initially prove too large for his pursuers. However, a second-day charge by Dennis Kuipers, another world championship regular, triggered a close fight between the pair.
Kuipers, in his FERM Power Tools World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC, proved a persistent threat to van Merksteijn Jr to the extent the latter’s lead was down to 15 seconds starting the penultimate stage. However, a technical fault would force Kuipers to retire, leaving van Merksteijn Jr to cruise to his first Hellendoon Rally victory, 1m15.4s ahead of Bernhard Ten Brinke.
There was more good news for the Van Merksteijn Motorsport squad when the team’s Bas van Kamperdijk took a strong second in the Group N category at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer.
“It has been a fantastic weekend for Van Merksteijn Motorsport,” said team manager Gerard Grouve. “The Hellendoorn Rally is an important rally to win and Peter Jr and Michiel achieved an outstanding result. Bas van Kamperdijk out performed himself by finishing in second position only six seconds adrift of a faster R4 Evo. With only 35 kilometers of special stages completed this year prior to the Hellendoorn Rally it was an extraordinary performance.”