Mick Smith’s Belgian adventure

London-based Killarney man Mick Smith prepared for this weekend’s Kerry Winter Rally by contesting an event in Belgium recently.

Smith, the chairman of the London Irish Motor Club, is a regular competitor in Belgium but next Sunday will mark his first attempt at the popular Kerry Motor Club event.

Driving his historic specification Hillman Avenger, he finished second in class on the Hemicuda Rally, based in Koekelare, West Flanders on October 24.

It was his first rally in Belgium since 2018 and he endured several dramas on the way to the finish.

Over the first running of the long Houthulst stage, the bonnet pins came loose and he had to stop at a marshal point and ask the volunteers to re-clip them. The same thing happened on the third running of the stage – the final test of the day.

On stage 3, Koekelare, the rear brake pipes burst after a heavy landing over a flying crossroads – and this was immediately followed by a huge moment at a square left with a line of well-established trees on the exit.

His mechanic, Tom Mansfield, from Waterford, who served part of his apprenticeship as a mechanic in AnCo in Tralee, was on hand to repair the damaged brake lines. But in true rally fashion nearby teams in the service park, including Den Motorsport (who were running London Irish Motor Club members John Reddington and Paul McDevitt) and professional Belgian outfit Scratch Motorsport all dived under the Avenger and helped get the car back out just in time – well just over time – the time card was presented (by yours truly) just as the clock turned over the minute and a ten-second penalty was applied for being late out of service.

Smith said he was just happy to be back rallying in Belgium and that, overall, the result did not matter.

He is also hoping to do the Killarney Historic Rally at the end of November.  

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