So much more than a new uniformity rally, it’s an ode to the East Cantons!
If Belgium is the kingdom of uniformity rallies for vintage cars, a discipline that made it’s appearance in Belgium with the Coupe des Sources, the phenomenon is not about to run out of steam, quite on the contrary! Next winter a new prestigious event will appear on the calendar: the Ostbelgien Classic! It’s organised by an international star of mechanical sports: Michael Bartholemy from Eupen…
Though Bartholemy’s career has mainly focussed on pure motorcycle racing, the famous “Team Principal” is also a great lover of historic rallies. He often participated in such events in the winter, during the Continental Circusmid-season. Having more time now to dedicate to his passion, Michel Bartholemy has surrounded himself with all the powerful forces of the Regul’ in his region to set up an ambitious project: the Ostbelgien Classic. The first edition will take place on Friday 29th, Saturday 30th November and Sunday, 1st December. Eupen will be the focal point….
“The initial idea was to go further than just to create a new uniformity rally for vintage cars,explains Michael Bartholemy. The aim is to underscore the charm and atmosphere of a region, Eastern Belgium, during the end-of-year season. At the beginning of December, all the Christmas markets and festivities that ring in the holiday season start in our region. Being able to link that to my passion for historic uniformity rallies is quite a challenge, and we are happy to be able to turn it into a reality with this first edition…”
Three days of racing, 800 kilometers to travel, four countries to visit, memorable days… and evenings, the foundations for the Ostbelgien Classic 2019 have been laid. “I have often criticised some of the events I have participated in for being too focussed on competition and for hardly giving the contestants time to catch their breath, notably by enjoying the places visited. For that reason, the timing of the three stages of the Ostbelgien Classic 2019 will be in tune with the season. In winter it gets dark early. Therefore, there is no need to extend the regularity test until late into the evening. I think it’s important to maximise pleasure along an exceptional route, and also to have a good time among friends in a refined atmosphere and in locations that showcase the region!”
The only downside is an unfortunate overlap with the dates of another major event organised at the other end of the country: The Ypres Historic Regularity. “First of all, I don’t want to hide away and ignore this overlap of dates, Bartholemy explains. To organise the Ostbelgien Classic, I benefit from the support of various official bodies and it was important to perfectly fit in with the other – very numerous – events organised in the region before the holidays. In fact, that meant that we didn’t really have a choice of dates. When I found out that the timing coincided with the Ypres event, I was the first to feel sorry. This will force some contestants to make choices. By the way, I would like to wish much success to those who will be driving in Ypres. In future, we will do everything possible to avoid such overlapping dates. How? It’s too early to say… However, please be aware that there was no intention of harming anyone when we set the date of this event. We only wished to ensure the best possible promotion of a region which is fully at its advantage in that late period of the year…”
One cannot help but acknowledge that the activities programme of the Ostbelgien Classic, with forest lanes and narrow roads in the north of the region on Friday, the High Fens in the direction of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg on Saturday and a trip to… the circuit of Spa- Francorchamps on Sunday, have seduced more than one person. “It was our modest ambition to welcome about forty odd teams to the first edition, Michael Bartholemy confesses. We are proud and pleased to announce that we have already exceeded that number, even though it’s only the end of July! We are talking about confirmed and paid-up registrations. The trust that some are placing in us is a great boost to moving forward…”
One thing is certain: we will still hear more about the Ostbelgien Classic before the 29th and 30th of November and the 1st of December…