The Belgium National 2000

Château de Ramegnies-Chin Tournai 22nd - 24th September 2000

What a fantastic weekend that was had by all, there were some upsets and some jolly good laughs and overall a interesting experience. It was our first time at this event and I'd like to think that we would go again another year. The travelling to the event was an adventure in itself for us, we slept in our vehicles on the Thursday night outside the event gates and I was very glad Jeff had chosen a spacious Range Rover to start trialing in. We went into the event at around 8am and it was very impressive with a beautiful Chateau and a couple of fields for pitching our tents. We got unpacked and spent a relaxing day watching the other competitors and some very superb Landrovers arriving. I was very impressed the way HBRO members pulled together and helped each other out, for example The Skinners nightmare journey to Belgium and arriving much later than they planned. Everyone got their tent out and sorted and we all went to our first meal together, which I'd like to add was very nice indeed.

Our first experience of off roading European style was the organised night drive that evening. We started off around 9pm. Nick W and Roger leading with the GPS and us all following close on his back door. In a HBRO Convoy with our English flags flying (which were kindly donated by Nick W) we looked the part! Everyone was handed a night book to follow and we drove for miles into the countryside. Several times we seemed to be leading the way for everyone and it was an awesome sight to see all these Landrovers and drivers of all capabilities having a go and enjoying the experience. We decided to head back to our camp and beds around midnight and we had only done half of the night book.

The next morning, the sun was shining and everyone was up for a good days driving. After having breakfast we collected our lunch boxes and headed off in the same fashion as the evening drive. By this time Nick W and Roger were very much at home out in front and doing a fantastic job at keeping us on the straight and narrow! The countryside of Belgium and France was lovely but very dusty indeed! The afternoon brought some funny highlights such as Karen and Tricia getting a wee bit stuck in a rut (Its all on video girls, sorry!). Not so funny was Klim experiencing a puncture and heading back earlier than planned (I think it was just a plan to get to the showers first really). Later in the day we eventually got to the trial site which had some great climbs and muddy ruts. I think we all got rather excited and ended up putting our foot down and made a few people stare and the only two marshal's to be seen all day to signal us to 'calm down'. I think they were just jealous as we made it look all too easy. After about 8 hours on the road some of us decided to head back to camp. Nick W and Nick VDB went on and finished the daybook and good on them! We decided a nice shower was in order and there were no queues much to our delight. After scrubbing the dust off it was feet up to enjoy a much-deserved beverage. Dinner that night was very nice again although by this time I thought I'd turn into a French stick with having had bread for Breakfast, lunch and Dinner! The evening's entertainment didn't start to 10pm that evening. They had a huge screen and showed highlights of the last few years of the Belgium Nationals including the night before and that day's driving. It was exciting to see that HBRO were featured alot and we gave an almighty cheer everytime! Shortly after they had some demonstrations by two specials and a fantastic fireworks display to round off a good day.

Sunday was the trialing day. I'm no expert on these matters but I did notice that their trial was very different to ours all down to the scoring system and general set up of the course, such as different routes for the different length wheel base vehicles. Safety didn't seem very important such as passengers in the back of vehicles, no one wearing their seatbelts and people hanging out of their windows etc.

There had to be over 200 vehicles taking part in the 4 sections of the trial so it was slow going. The queues were long and we didn't join them until midday and ended up being the last vehicles on the course. The Trial site was man made, with open spaces with good ascents and descents. We went around and enjoyed the drive and after completing the sections we were surprised to learn that we had scored zeros on all four sections and were the first people to do so all day. We then went to lunch and enjoyed our meal and chatted about the trial and were warned not to get too excited about our zero score! After a quick look around the stores and some HBRO members a lot poorer we went to the presentation. The club rallied around and tried to make "head nor tail" of the speeches as they were mostly spoken in French etc. But what we did understand was that Jeff had come first in the trial and Nick VDB second much to all our delights and cheers.

What a fantastic ending to a very enjoyable weekend!

Tracey Harrison

Thanks to Nick van den Braak for the photo's

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