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Thu 18 Aug 2022

Verstappen makes WRC debut in Belgium

Formula 1 legend Jos Verstappen is set to make his FIA World Rally Championship debut at Ypres Rally Belgium (18 - 21 August).

Verstappen - father of 2021 F1 world champion Max - spent eight seasons at the pinnacle of single-seater racing during the 1990s and early 2000s before retiring from F1 in 2003. 

He contested the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice in 2008 and 2009 and, since the beginning of this year, has been trying his hand at rallying with a Citroën C3 Rally2 prepared by DG Sport.

The Dutchman has shown encouraging pace on national rallies in Belgium but this will be his first time competing at the sport’s top level. 

“I have always enjoyed watching rallying,” Verstappen said. “When you see it on television or on the WRC app, it’s always very spectacular. 

“I first drove a rally car maybe one and a half years ago and of course, from that point you just want more and more. So we started to do some events with the Rally2 car and DG Sport and then Ypres came up  - and that’s why we are here.

“It’s a big step, but we really enjoy the rallying and we are here to learn. I am 50 but I am still learning a lot and I need the experience,” he added. 

Verstappen Sr isn’t the first F1 driver to attempt rallying: Kimi Räikkönen, Robert Kubica and Valtteri Bottas are just a few other circuit stars that have made the switch. 

One of the biggest differences, Jos says, is having a co-driver in the car and understanding the pace notes. This week, that task falls upon Harm van Koppen. 

“I really had to learn that somebody was talking to me,” he laughed. “When I was in single-seaters, I didn't like when the engineer was speaking to me during the race - and now they are speaking all the time to me!

“I’ve had to get used to it, but it was a really hard time at the start to understand what everything means and what to do. On a rally, you’re busy all the time and you need to drive fast.

“When somebody is talking in your ear all the time, it can distract you a bit at the beginning, but you need to keep concentrated on what to do and things like that. It’s going a little better now and I think the more you do it the more you are learning.”

It’s unlikely we’ll see Max on the stages any time soon - he’s a busy man. For now though, Jos isn’t ruling out more future WRC outings.  

“Max had a go on a track day with me and he really enjoyed it, but he is too busy at the moment. Of course, he calls me every day to see how things are going. 

“It will be a successful rally for us if we make it to the finish and enjoy it. I’ve driven in the rain before and it’s hard, for sure. But whatever the conditions are, we will fight our way through it.”

  • Full coverage from Ypres Rally Belgium will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.
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