Verstappen proud to finish on WRC debut

Jos Verstappen / Harm van Koppen

Jos Verstappen says he learned a lot in making his FIA World Rally Championship debut at Rally Belgium.

Driving a DG Sport Competition-prepared Citroen C3, the former Formula 1 driver was guided by Harm van Koppen to 60th place at Rally Belgium, finishing two spots above the championship-leading pairing of Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen, as Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja prevailed.

While he has previously competed in national-level rallies in Belgium, the outing was Verstappen’s first at the sport’s top level.

The Dutchman started the rally well, finishing the opening day in 25th overall.

His second day behind the wheel was more troublesome, after the Citroën C3 slid off the track in the opening stage of the afternoon session, bringing an early end to the day.

He recovered from the off to complete the final four tests on the last day of the event.

The father of 2021 Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen said he was proud to finish the event.

“It went well,” he enthused.

“My limited knowledge of the course bothers me, but that’s why we are here to participate in this rally, to learn a lot, and gain experience.

“It was the first time for both myself and my co-pilot that we drove in Ypres.

“You know how difficult Ypres can be and on Saturday we were surprised.

“It is a great pity that failure, because otherwise we could have put down a nice classification.

“But I’m glad we were able to participate again today and satisfied.

“We were able to learn a lot and I’m proud to have finished.”

The two-time Formula 1 podium finisher said he has always enjoyed rallying.

“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,” he added.

“So we started to do some events with the Rally2 car and DG Sport and then Ypres came up.

“It’s a big step, but we really enjoy the rallying and we are here to learn.”

The senior Verstappen spent eight seasons at the pinnacle of single-seater racing during the 1990s and early 2000s before retiring from F1 in 2003.

He isn’t the first F1 driver to attempt rallying with Kimi Räikkönen, Robert Kubica, and Valtteri Bottas having also sampled the discipline.

Despite rolling on Friday morning’s second stage, Rovanperä / Halttunen (203 points) leave Belgium with a championship lead of 72 points, ahead of Tänak / Järveoja (131 points), and Evans / Martin (116 points).

The next round of the 2022 WRC season is Rally Greece, on September 8-11.