It may not be a tourist destination up there with the Maldives, but if you’re into motorsport, Belgium is a great place to head in August (or rather, it would be if its borders weren’t closed to us...).
The tiny nation has just held the marquee 24-hour race of the GT season, coming up is the Ypres Rally and then at the end of the month comes the Belgian Grand Prix. These three diverse events all have one thing in common: Spa-Francorchamps.
Yes, Spa is around 165 miles from Ypres and doesn’t exactly have a rallying heritage; but the track and its surroundings will host four special stages of the Ypres Rally on the final day, including the points-paying seven-mile Power Stage.
Sunday’s stages are an intriguing mix of classic Belgian asphalt roads and the actual Spa circuit, with the podium ceremony taking place at the track.
Mixing rallying with circuits isn’t a new idea – most notably showcased by the Monza Rally, which made its WRC debut last year. Even before then, Britain’s round of the WRC used to regularly visit Castle Combe and Silverstone.
But anybody who’s worried that the Ypres Rally might lose its unique ambience needn’t be concerned. It still hosts the best service park of the year, right in the town’s central square, conveniently flanked by bars and restaurants.
Ypres and its environs are mired in World War One history, and it’s incredible how vivid and moving the many memorials and museums are.
It’s a home event, too, for Thierry Neuville: a man who desperately needs some good luck to avoid his first winless WRC season since 2016.
The Hyundai i20 driver is immersing himself in Belgium’s month of motorsport: he was avidly watching the Spa 24 Hours livestream, he will be the man of the moment in Ypres and he’s a regular guest at the Belgian Grand Prix.