Charles Munster wins the Romania Historic Winter Rally 2020

Charles Munster wins the Romania Historic Winter Rally 2020

13.01.2020: - Gérard Marcy also on the overall podium with best two-wheel-drive car At the young age of 18 Charles Munster claimed victory in the Romania Historic Winter Rally, a competition reserved for historic vehicles held on an entirely snow packed co

- Gérard Marcy also on the overall podium with best two-wheel-drive car

At the young age of 18 Charles Munster claimed victory in the Romania Historic Winter Rally, a competition reserved for historic vehicles held on an entirely snow packed course. For Charles Munster this was his first ever overall victory.

Munster was at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza 555 Group A with which he had no experience whatsoever, with next to him Jasper Maelfait, a young inexperienced co-driver presently following a traineeship with BMA. With Gérard Marcy (Porsche 911 Carrera RS Proto) BMA had a second car on the podium. Marcy finished third and won the two-wheel drive category.

Preparation for this event was rather chaotic. “The intention was that I would be at the wheel of the car with Charles next to me” Bernard Munster commented. “However, following Philip Cracco passing away I decided not to travel to Romania so that I would be able to attend the funeral on Saturday. 

It was decided that Charles would drive the car. Seeing the Subaru was already on its way to Romania I was unable to explain anything about the car to him. On top of that Charles did not have the slightest experience with the Subaru which was built by Prodrive in December 1995 and with which Kenneth Eriksson finished second in the 1996 Safari Rally. Additional problem: Charles did not have a co-driver. Following a conversation with Jasper Maelfait, a trainee at BMA, it was decided that he would be Charles’ guide. Jasper had never read pace notes before.”

The rally was spread over three days. On Friday Charles twice produced a third best time. On Saturday he won five of the six special stages, and after the fourth run he was in the lead. On Sunday Munster continued to dominate the rally and won four of the five stages. A brilliant performance for an inexperienced duo who over those last few days had conducted themselves in a professional and highly focussed manner.

 “It was fantastic to have been able to compete with this legendary car. The Subaru 555 also demands an entirely different driving style to the one I am accustomed to. To go fast you need to drive aggressively and almost constantly drift. That’s the complete opposite to my style of driving which I am used to in modern rallies. This was also my first competition on snow and I must admit it turned out well. Driving with studded tyres is similar to driving on gravel. There also there are moments you have more grip and then far less in others” a smiling Charles Munster commented.

The atmosphere reigning at BMA at the finish was exuberant and not only because Charles Munster had clinched victory. Gérard Marcy provided some additional delight by finishing third and claiming victory in the two-wheel-drive category. “I’m truly pleased to not only have won my class in such a strong field but to have also found myself on the overall podium. The drivers behind me put me under heavy pressure but they didn’t succeed in robbing me of my podium place. 

The car was extremely well prepared and throughout the event BMA put in fabulous work. Success lies in the fact that we kept going without making any mistakes. On top of that my co-driver, whom I had only met for the first time at the airport, guided me perfectly.  He neither knew me, the car nor the rally.

And yet he produced fabulous work. It was as though Fabrice Henry had got under my skin. It’s worth noting that in the ‘80s I competed in ten Dakar events and that I am rather someone who drives on sight. That’s an entirely different way of navigating than the current co-drivers are used to. And yet in no time Fabrice Henry had adapted to my way of working. That was brilliant and something I had never experienced before.”

“I’m proud of the manner in which Charly tackled this event. Prior to him travelling to Romania I had advised him to take a look on YouTube and see how Colin McRae had handled this car in the past. He could learn a great deal from it” Bernard Munster commented “On top of that he had never driven on snow in a competition.

Impressive, he really did well. It’s also worth noting Gérard Marcy’s performance. An excellent result. Gérard was perhaps not the fastest in his category but he was pretty constant, drove efficiently and produced a faultless run.”

Apart from Charles Munster and Gérard Marcy BMA had also entered two others cars. On Friday Philippe Moortgat and André Leyh (Porsche 911 Carrera RS Proto) ended the day in 18th place. On Saturday the duo had climbed up into 13th spot to finally finish on Sunday just out of the top 10 in 12th position.

Paul Chieusse, with next to him Andrée Hansen (Porsche 911 Carrera RS Proto), enjoyed an outstanding debut with the Porsche. Following two top 10 times he ended the day on Friday in a worthy seventh place. On Saturday he was plagued with brake problems whereby he lost valuable time and even had to drop out of several special stages.

Once the issues had been solved, he rounded off the Saturday with a tenth time. On Sunday Chieusse lost time when he landed in a wall of snow. Apart from that competition incident he was once again fast and rounded off his debut with the Porsche with a fifth best time in the final special stage. Chieusse finally finished the rally in 32nd place.


BMA - also photos


13.01.2020 / MaP

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