Fon Martens, general manager of Colman jewelry in Knokke and Antwerp, had his very first experience in rallying by participating with WOWwatchers and a fabulous Alpine A110 GT in the Zoute GT Tour 2022. It was a unique opportunity for him to get to know this special world and of course for us an amazing experience too.
Text Anja Van Der Borght – Photos WOWwatchers, ZouteGrandPrix
Did the Zoute GT Tour live up to your expectations?
FM: “Several times in recent years I have waited for the participants with their cars at the finish line of the Zoute GT Tour. In other words, I knew that there are always some fantastic cars and a very friendly atmosphere, but apart from that I had no idea what to expect. However, the GT Tour exceeded my wildest expectations! An array of beautiful, modern and youngtimer GTs, each one more impressive than the other and what friendly participants! I was able to get acquainted with some of them during the sumptuous breakfast at Renson’s new headquarters in Kruisem and in the afternoon during a delicious hot buffet at the idyllic location of the Hulsters Molen in Schoondijke, Holland. In the evening during the awards ceremony at the Zoute Drivers Club in the pavilion of the Prado Zoute, we were able to look back together with richly flowing Blanc de Blanc from Ruinart, Gin Tropez and hot bites. A delightful end to a beautiful, sunny day.”
To what extent does this first rally participation taste like more?
FM: “The Zoute GT Tour has really opened up a new world for me. I already know that I will participate in future rallies. Starting with the Tour Amical next year in May together with my brother. This ‘7-day’ rally for men that we sponsor in the capacity of jeweler Colman together with Bell & Ross, starts next year in Sofia to end in Dubrovnik. I would like to invite all car enthusiasts to take a look at www.touramical.be. My ultimate dream is to drive the Mille Miglia one day – also together with my brother.”
Do you think new participants should prepare to participate in a rally like the Zoute GT Tour?
FM: “For me, it was the first experience with a roadbook with convex-arrow navigation technology. Personally, I don’t think it’s immediately the most complicated system of navigation once you get the hang of it. I did notice that you have to keep your mind on the rally at all times. As soon as you lose concentration, you immediately drive the wrong way and that involves a lot of calculations because the kilometers on your counter no longer correspond to the kilometers in the road book.”
What did you find to be the most surprising aspect of the Salt GT Tour?
FM: “The amount of cars. More than 150. A lot more than I expected. The sea of people admiring the participating cars on the Zeedijk in Knokke at the finish line was also impressive. The amount of people along the side applauding or taking pictures of the beautiful GTs… I felt like a famous sportsman or world star.”
And the most enjoyable aspect?
FM: “The ‘bonding’ with the participants. Most people were strangers to each other, but because of the love for beautiful cars, everyone always found an appropriate ‘opening line’ to engage in conversation with other participants. The atmosphere was very convivial.”
You drove along in a beautiful Alpine A110 GT. What did you think of the car?
FM: “The Alpine A110 GT we had at our disposal stood out with its bodywork in matte gray ‘gris tonnerre mat’ paint. Furthermore, I loved the details in carbon inside. It is a very cool car that also drives very comfortably. The 1.8 liter gasoline engine with 300 hp was surprisingly peppy and produces a nice sound. I had never driven an Alpine before, but had been told that the driving feel is a bit of a mix of Lotus and Porsche. I could agree. I did indeed experience the luxury feel of a Porsche interior, but the playful ‘go-cart like’ driving feel of a Lotus.”
How did you experience the car as a rally car?
FM: “Thanks to its handling, the Alpine A110 GT is in my opinion a very fine car to drive a GT rally. The rear-wheel drive car has very good handling, a short turning radius which makes maneuvering during agility exercises easier and the seats are very comfortable even after a long day on the road.”
You also wore a special watch. Did you use that during the rally and, if so, what for?
FM: “I had a Bell & Ross BR03-94 Alpine F1 on my wrist. This timepiece was created from a collaboration between the Bell & Ross watch brand and the Alpine F1 team sponsored by the watch brand. During the rally we were able to use the watch to measure intermediate times with the chronograph.”
Is there anything you would change about the Zoute GT Tour?
FM: “The Zoute GT Tour was run on Sunday this year, coinciding with the Zoute Sale by Bonhams, the prestigious international auction of rare collector’s cars. Due to the late finish times, most of the participants were unable to attend the auction. Also, the time we had left in the Prado Zoute pavilion was limited because most booths were already closing at 5 p.m. Personally, I would have liked to spend a little more time here to explore the brands exhibited there.”
Would you participate in the Zoute GT Tour again next year?
FM: “My first experience with the Zoute GT Tour clearly tastes like more. For example, I would also like to participate in the Zoute Rally by Stow, the old-timer rally of the Zoute Grand Prix.”