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Ypres Rally Belgium - 25-26 Jun 10

Posted: April 29, 2011 9:35 AM - 10675 Hits

Round 6 - 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC)
Round 4 - 2010 European Rally Championship (ERC)

Gonon clinches Subaru Individual Award in Ypres

Posted: July 6, 2010 1:40 PM

Florian Gonon's run to 16th overall on last weekend's Geko Ypres Rally has earned him the latest Subaru Individual Award.

Swiss champion Gonon, who was driving an Impreza for the Annie Spiers Rallye Team, was making his Ypres debut and his first appearance in this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge.

"The more confident we got the more our times came down," said the 34-year-old. "We struggled on the first day with a few technical issues but I was very pleased with my result and really enjoyed the atmosphere of the event."

The Subaru Individual Award is presented on each of the 12 IRC rounds this year to the highest-placed Subaru finisher and demonstrates the support that Subaru is extending to its customer drivers in the IRC in 2010.

Swiss Olivier Burri (Monte Carlo), Juan San Martin (Curitiba), Gabriel Pozzo (Argentina), Jose Barrios (Canary Islands) and Teemu Arminen (Sardinia) are the other Subaru Individual Award winners so far this season.

LOIX LANDS IRC GLORY IN BELGIUM

Posted: July 6, 2010 1:15 PM

Local hero Freddy Loix has clinched his sixth Geko Ypres Rally victory to become the fifth different winner of an Intercontinental Rally Challenge round this season. Driving for Skoda Motorsport for the first time, the Belgian was roared all the way through Saturday's 13 sun-coated special stages by tens of thousands of adoring fans, who lined the demanding all-asphalt route.

Co-driven by fellow Belgian Frederic Miclotte, Loix had started day two with a slender 5.8-second lead over Peugeot UK's Kris Meeke, last year's Ypres winner and the defending IRC champion. But what was shaping up to be a repeat of the pair's epic battle in Belgium 12 months previously ended when Meeke suffered a spectacular high-speed roll on Saturday's second stage.

With runaway IRC title leader Juho Hanninen crashing into retirement on Friday evening, Meeke was desperate to make the most of the Finn's early exit by taking his second win of 2010. But it all went awry for the Northern Irishman when he lost control on the exit of a fast right-hander two kilometres into the stage, clipped a bank and rolled. Fortunately both Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle were uninjured but the crash marked their fourth retirement of the season.

"It was a mistake with the pacenote," said Meeke, who began day two of the rally by claiming his third fastest stage time. "We turned in a little too early and ran out of room on the exit of the corner. When you're pushing like we were that kind of thing can happen."

Although Meeke's crash took the pressure off Loix, the 39-year-old rued his rival's retirement as it meant he had to adopt a less attacking style while also maintaining his concentration by driving at a similar pace for the remainder of the leg, which covered more than 190 competitive kilometres. Apart from a minor brake glitch, little troubled the driver affectionately known as Fast Freddy, whose win was Skoda's fourth in the IRC in 2010 and its first with the facelift Fabia.

Meeke's departure handed second place to Jan Kopecky, who has closed to within three points of Hanninen at the top of the title standings with six rounds remaining. Kopecky got to within 25 seconds of Loix with a succession of fastest stage times on Saturday afternoon but a mistake on stage 15, when he went wide into a field, ended any outside hopes he might have had of snatching an unlikely victory.

In fact, Kopecky admitted to a lack of confidence with the handling of his Fabia Super 2000, but was able to dial-out the contributing understeer by making a handful of set-up changes.

Thierry Neuville took a career-best third in his Kronos Racing-run Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207. The young Belgian showed a level of maturity that belied his 22 years and rarely made a mistake as he adhered to team orders by reducing his pace to ensure a podium finish. His performance, which elevates him to sixth in the standings, provided some cheer for the Kronos squad, which lost the cars of Meeke and Belgian championship leader Pieter Tsjoen in separate accidents.

Belgian Bernd Casier was a solid fourth overall in his Skoda Fabia with Andreas Mikkelsen fifth in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. The Norwegian was delayed by a puncture on Friday's second stage but gradually climbed the leaderboard throughout Saturday to bag his first IRC points and finish as the highest-placed Ypres Rally rookie.

Veteran Patrick Snijers was keeping the charging Bruno Magalhaes at bay and seemingly certain of sixth place in his 207 only to retire on the final stage with a technical fault. Magalhaes was pushing hard in his efforts to lessen the impact of a 1m10s time penalty imposed for twice leaving service late due to a gearbox problem and was rewarded with sixth place when Snijers retired.

Poland's Michal Solowow overcame a puncture on the final stage to claim seventh in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000, with Luca Betti eighth and rounding out the point scorers after also falling victim to a deflated tyre on the last run.

Dutch youngster Kevin Abbring won the IRC 2WD Cup in his Clio R3, one place ahead of Corsican Pierre Campana, who now leads the two-wheel drive standings in his similar car, despite a slow puncture on the penultimate stage. Kris Princen had led the class only to drop out of Friday's first leg with alternator failure.

DRIVER QUOTES

Freddy Loix (Belgium), Skoda Fabia S2000, first overall:
"I'm very happy, very happy. It was a nice comeback for me to the IRC. I really have to thank my sponsor BFO and Skoda Motorsport who gave me the possibility to prepare myself properly and provided me with a car to win. It was difficult when Kris retired because it was hard to know how much to attack so I am very happy."

Jan Kopecky (Czech Republic), Skoda Fabia S2000, second overall:
"We have again a one-two for Skoda and showed what a good car we have. Freddy did a very good job so congratulations to him. The championship is closer now and Azores is coming next where we will do our best."

Thierry Neuville (Belgium), Peugeot 207 S2000, third overall:
"I am so happy, it is incredible. It was a long weekend but this result will really help for the future. I had to listen to my team and drive more slowly today to get to the finish but I was happy to do that."

Disaster strikes Tom Cave on day one in Ypres

Posted: July 6, 2010 1:13 PM

Teenage rally driver Tom Cave suffered a disaster on the opening day of this year's GEKO Ypres Rally, when the engine on his Proton Satria Neo Super2000 failed on the fourth stage of the event. The youngster was settling into the event and establishing a good feeling with the car when the failure occurred, on the same stage as a similar fate befell the two official Proton cars of Chris Atkinson and Alister McRae.

It was clear from the outset that this would not be an easy event. On the first stage, the 29Km Hollebeke test, Tom was caught out by unexpected gravel on the racing line through a left hand corner, dragged onto the road by preceding cars cutting the corner. He slid wide and his Proton gently tipped into the ditch by the side of the road.

While the car suffered minimal damage, it took three minutes for the numerous and extremely helpful Belgian rally fans to get the Proton back on the road and Tom on his way. With the time loss, he and co-driver Craig Parry had dropped to 68th overall.

The second stage was better for him, as he worked to build his confidence amid the very tricky conditions but it was on the third where he began to show what he was capable of. His time was just six seconds shy of McRae over 18Km, promoting him to 58th overall, a gain of 10 places in just two stages.

At the mid-leg service, the Davies Motorsport technicians checked the car over thoroughly and finding no significant damage, sent it back out for a repeat of the first three stages.

However, problems soon arose. Close to the end of the end of the first stage, Tom felt the engine fail as he was changing up into fifth gear. Realising the situation, he shut the engine off immediately and parked within the stage, waiting for the DMS technicians to recover him and the car once the stage was complete.

With the car returned to the service area, the team investigated the damage and found that it was too extensive to allow repairs to be carried out and Tom to return on the second day. Therefore, he retired from the event.

Commenting, Tom said;
"It's a very disappointing end to the event but as we have found, that's rallying!

"I made a bit of a novice mistake on the first stage, not anticipating how slippery one particular corner was and slid onto the ditch. The car was OK but couldn't get out on its own and we had to get some spectators to help. Over the next two stages, I just concentrated on getting my confidence back again and settling into a rhythm.

"I was quite surprised by our pace and how close we were to Alister on the third stage, particularly as we weren't pushing at all at that point. And that makes it all the more disappointing that the event ended like this, particularly as all three cars had problems. All we can do now is find out what caused it and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Results

Posted: July 6, 2010 1:06 PM

1 Freddy Loix/Frederic Miclotte (Skoda Fabia S2000) 2h35m36.9s
2 Jan Kopecky/Petr Stary (Skoda Fabia S2000) +22.1s
3 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Klinger (Peugeot 207 S2000) +2m05.5s
4 Bernd Casier/Francis Caesemaeker (Skoda Fabia S2000) +4m06.1s
5 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Floene (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000) +5m20.9s
6 Bruno Magalhaes/Carlos Magalhaes (Peugeot 207 S2000) +6m06.2s
7 Michal Solowow/Maciej Baran (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000) +7m24.5s
8 Luca Betti/Pierangelo Scalvini (Peugeot 207 S2000) +9m37.6s
9 Corrado Fontana/Nicola Arena (Peugeot 207 S2000) +9m53.0s
10 Maciej Oleksowicz/Andrzej Obrebowski (Ford Fiesta S2000) +10m39.0s

Leading IRC 2WD Cup finishers:
Kevin Abbring/Erwin Mombaerts (Clio R3)

Video Clips - Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle's off on SS8

Posted: June 26, 2010 10:52 PM



Rally Ypres Preview Video - Peugeot UK

Posted: June 25, 2010 11:39 AM

Shakedown Video Clips

Posted: June 25, 2010 11:38 AM

KRIS MEEKE & PAUL NAGLE HEAD FOR BELGIUM AS THE IRC RETURNS TO MAINLAND EUROPE

Posted: June 24, 2010 1:58 PM

Peugeot UK's 2009 IRC Champion Kris Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle return to mainland Europe this week for the Geko Ypres Rally.

After the disappointment of a non-finish in the last rally in Sardinia, Kris and Paul will be aiming for a strong result on this rally to get their championship defence back on track.

Last year saw a titanic battle between Kris and his then Peugeot team mate Freddy Loix which ended with Kris taking the rally win by 20.4 seconds from Jan Kopecky, after Loix picked up a puncture.

With one rally win to their credit already and seven rallies remaining, including Ypres, Kris and Paul can still retain their title as only the scores from seven rallies count towards the championship.

The Geko Ypres Rally kicks off on Friday 25th June and finishes on Saturday evening 26th June. As last year's rally, it will be contested over nineteen stages of which three will be totally new stages for this year.

Peugeot Sport's Le Mans driver Stéphane Sarrazin will also be returning to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge at Ypres to drive a Peugeot 207 S2000 prepared by the French PH Sport team. Stéphane, who has a reputation as a tarmac specialist, will have logistical support from Kronos Racing and will be aiming to better his previous best IRC finish of 3rd in the Monte Carlo Rally in 2009.

A total of 103 cars are entered for this year's rally including twenty-five S2000 cars from four different manufacturers - Peugeot (11), Skoda (8), Proton (3) and Ford (3).

Barry/Brady ready for Ypres after fitting new ECU

Posted: June 24, 2010 1:56 PM

Daniel Barry will start the Geko Ypres Rally confident that the mechanical problems that plagued him on Rally Islas Canarias have been solved.

The Barry Motorsport operation has traced the fault to a corrupted ECU, which resulted in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX’s engine being down on power and running at a high temperature throughout the Intercontinental Rally Challenge event.

A replacement ECU has now been installed in Barry’s car, which he tested at a race circuit in Northern Ireland prior to heading to Ypres for his debut on the demanding asphalt event.

Barry, who is co-driven by fellow Irishman Martin Brady, said: “We ran the car for an hour and everything was fine so we’re all set. It’s going to be a tough rally and you definitely need to be brave to make the time but I’m raring to go. I can’t wait to start.”

Although Barry has never competed in Ypres before, he has some experience of the terrain he’ll encounter this week after contesting Rally van Wervik earlier this month.

Local hero Neuville aims to play safe in Ypres

Posted: June 24, 2010 11:26 AM

Thierry Neuville insists he won't be feeling any added pressure when he starts the Geko Ypres Rally on Friday, despite his billing as one of his country's brightest hopes for the future.

Neuville, 21, hails from Hunningen in the far east of Belgium near to the border with Germany, approximately 300 kilometres from Ypres, where round sixth of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge will be taking place.

He will drive a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 run by the vastly successful Kronos Racing operation under the Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg banner in deference to backing from the two Peugeot importers.

"Ypres is the most important event of the year for me with lots of people in Belgium looking for my result," said Neuville. "But I don't feel under any pressure to try to win because of this. All I want to do is stay on the road and get some experience."

Neuville made his debut in a S2000 car on the event last season after being selected for the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team seat by a panel of Belgian journalists. He ran as high as fourth before a crash forced his retirement.

"Even though the stages can be quite hard it is a real pleasure to drive in Ypres and it's good that I have some experience of this event," said Neuville. "I came to watch this rally with my family when I was 10 years old so it is nice to be here competing."

Tom Cave finishes third on S2000 tarmac debut as warm up for Ypres

Posted: June 21, 2010 12:41 PM

Teenage rally driver Tom Cave finished this weekend's Rallye de la Haute Senne in Belgium third overall on his tarmac debut in his Proton Satria Neo Super2000. He finished behind fellow Proton driver Chris Atkinson and local hero Patrik Snijers, who took the win.

Cave, like the official Proton drivers Alister McRae and Atkinson, was using the event as a test and warm-up for next weekend's GEKO Ypres Rally, the next round of the Intercontinental Rally Championship. As such, the Haute Senne was the perfect event, featuring four loops of three stages. This would allow Tom to learn the Proton on tarmac and refine an asphalt set-up as the day went on.

His day began well, with no problems over the opening loop of stages. The Davies Motorsport Services technicians made several changes to the car's settings at Tom's request and this helped on the next loop of stages.

However, on the sixth stage of the event, he picked up a puncture and elected to drive to the end of the stage on the flat tyre, rather than lose time changing it within the stage. Despite this, he still dropped around 45 seconds in the process.

He attacked the stages in the afternoon with renewed pace and was able to claw back some of the lost positions, much to the annoyance of the local drivers. By the end of the event, he reached third place, a remarkable achievement on his first outing in a four wheel-drive car on tarmac.

Commenting, Tom said;
"Overall, this has been a very good event, both for us and I suspect, for the Proton team. We had no problems at all with the car and were able to make numerous adjustments to its set-up to develop what I feel is a really good base for Ypres next weekend.

"We ran 110Km today on tarmac very similar to what we'll find next weekend, so I couldn't have asked for more. The car felt great, we set some stage times that I was personally very pleased with and now, I have a lot more confidence heading for Ypres."

PROTON Geko Ypres Rally preview

Posted: June 21, 2010 12:36 PM

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will begin its Intercontinental Rally Challenge programme on this week's Ypres Rally.

The PROTON team will field two cars for Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson, while a third, semi-works, car will be driven by Tom Cave. The Ypres Rally, which starts on Friday afternoon and finishes the following night, will be the first significant competition on asphalt for the drivers. The three did contest the Rallye de le Haute Senne (a small Belgian national event) on Saturday, with Atkinson and Cave taking second and third behind former European Rally Champion Patrick Snijers, who was competing on the event as a shakedown for his entry on his home nation's biggest motorsport event.

Like his PROTON team-mate McRae was running right at the sharp end of the 11-stage event, when his Satria developed a misfire on the engine and, given that the rally was an extended test, McRae sacrificed his chance of winning and switched the engine off. The Scotsman remains firmly focused on this week's challenge.

And what a challenge the Ypres Rally will be. The IRC boasts its strongest Super 2000 entry ever on one of Europe's toughest asphalt rallies. The PROTON R3 Rally team will face 19 stages and close to 300 kilometers of competition in just 30 hours.

This week's sixth round of the IRC will be PROTON's first outing in the hugely popular series since McRae took second overall on the final round of IRC 2009, the Rally of Scotland.

The roads in McRae's native land couldn't be more different to the challenge which lies in wait in Belgium this week. The only thing which might be similar is the weather. Like Scotland, Belgium can be prone to the kind of sudden downpour which can turn a rally on its head. The all-asphalt Ypres stages, full of long straights and square junctions, are a world away from the flowing gravel of Rally of Scotland.

Quotes:
Alister McRae said:
"I've done Ypres three times before and I like it. The last time I did it was 15 years ago or something like that, so I can't actually remember it very well. I wouldn't say it's an event I love, though. We've had a few issues with some of the ditches over there in the past! It's certainly not an easy rally. Looking at it, you'd think it was pretty straightforward with some long straights followed by square corners, but it's anything but straightforward. Because everybody is travelling at pretty much the same speed down the straights, the key to Ypres is in the braking and the traction from the car under braking. You want to leave it as late as possible before you come off the gas because that's where the time is going to be won and lost on this event. But, leave it a nanosecond too late and that could be the end of your rally. And then, just to really spice things up, the weather can usually turn wet. It's a really interesting event. Obviously, it's our first IRC event in the PROTON on asphalt. We've done some testing, and the small rally last weekend, which has really helped. The car feels very strong on Tarmac. We're running the new engine specification with the taller gearing, which will make the Satria Neo S2000 a very strong package on the rally. As for a result, that's a big question: there are only 24 other S2000 cars out there for us to beat! It's going to be a tough one. There are plenty of locals out there who have done this event year after year, plus we're still finding out more and more about the Satria on asphalt; points would be a very, very good result on this rally!"

Chris Atkinson said:
"What do I know about Belgium? Not much. I have a Belgian co-driver in Stephane Prevot, so I've been there a few times to see him. I know a few Belgian cyclists and I've actually ridden a bike through Belgium a few times, so I know a little bit about the roads on two wheels. Seriously, though, I don't know too much about this event. I know it's got an awesome reputation as one of Europe's toughest asphalt rallies and an incredible reputation for having a great atmosphere, with all of the villages on the route coming out to support the rally. There's a real aura been created around this rally. The crucial thing on this event, as everywhere, will be getting a good set of pace notes. We're going to be doing some stages in the dusk, which is worse and harder than driving competitively in the pitch black. And, at the same time, this is quite a long event: it's almost a WRC round in terms of distance in half the time of a WRC round. It's nice to be seeded where I am [number three], but at the end of the day it's about where you finish rather than where you start. I really like asphalt driving and, from the testing we have done so far, you can see this car suits asphalt. It's got a great engine and it's so light, it's like a racing car! I can't wait to get started, particularly after the stages we did on the test event on Saturday. That rally was really useful for us. I don't think the stages were an exact fit, but it awesome to get the PROTON running on Tarmac, even if we were driving with Ypres in mind. Coming back to Ypres, it's been a while since we've been in this kind of fierce competition. We have to be realistic, the entry for the event is massive so a top 10 would be a solid result for us to build on for the rest of the asphalt rallies to come."

Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
"I'm very happy with the way Saturday's rally [Rallye de la Haute Senne] went. Both Chris and Alister did what we wanted. It wasn't about the result or the stage times, this rally was about getting data on the car on these kind of roads. And we got lots of data. The good thing about this event was that it ran in four loops of three stages, which meant we could make changes to the car after every loop. Not all of the stages were going in the right direction, but that's what a test event is about. On the whole we have made good steps forward with the car, we're happy going to Ypres. It was a shame Alister's car developed a misfire on the second loop. We told him to pull over, not wanting to risk the engine in any way for this weekend, it just wasn't worth it. I was pleased with the way Chris drove, though, he's clearly getting to grips with the car. And then there was Tom [Cave in a semi-works PROTON]; for Tom to finish third was a very good result for him, we're all looking forward to Ypres now."

Double Belgian outing for Tom Cave

Posted: June 20, 2010 8:15 PM

Teenage rally driver Tom Cave will have a double outing to Belgium this month, as the youngster enters the Rallye de la Haute Senne one week before beginning his Intercontinental Rally Challenge campaign on the famous Ypres Rally. He will run alongside the official Proton team as they tackle the national event as a test and shakedown ahead of the sixth round of this year's IRC.

Tom already has two gravel outings under his belt in his Proton Satria Neo Super2000, finishing sixth and fifth respectively on the Plains Rally and the Severn Valley Stages in the UK. However, while he will undoubtedly be buoyed by his and the Proton's pace on gravel, running on tarmac is a complete unknown.

Both the Tom Cave Racing and the Proton teams have a UK shakedown this week before heading to Braine-le-Comte, just south of Brussels, for the Rallye de la Haute Senne. This event will be a perfect test for the following weekend, as it features four loops of three stages, allowing the team to make changes to the car between each loop and immediately assess the changes, as they develop the best Ypres set-up.

In addition, it will give Tom more than 100 kilometres at the wheel of the Proton in a competitive situation, to develop his tarmac driving style and learn the intricacies of Belgian tarmac.
Commenting, Tom said;
"This is going to be a very interesting couple of weeks for me. We haven't turned a wheel on tarmac in the Proton yet, so it's all about learning and gaining as much experience as possible.

"We're starting in the UK with a basic shakedown and while this will be nothing like the conditions we'll find in Belgium, it will be my first taste of the Proton in tarmac trim. As soon as the shakedown is finished, we head for Brussels and the Rallye de la Haute Senne.

"I think this will be a perfect opportunity for us. Four loops of three stages means that we will be able to tweak the car's settings and my pace notes and compare the results virtually in real time. The fact that it's on a genuine rally means that we will gain far more than if we were simply testing.

Craig [Parry] is back in the car with me for these two events and while both Sean [O'Gorman, Plains] and Ieuan [Thomas, Severn Valley] did a fantastic job, it will be good to have a familiar voice next to me."

In addition to the mileage and set-up options, this will be Tom's first event alongside the official Proton team and his first opportunity to pick up tips from the works drivers, Alister McRae and Chris Atkinson.

"I'm really looking forward to working alongside Alister and Chris and learning what I can from them and the team. They've been at the top of their game for years, so I'll be looking closely at what they're doing and hopefully, get a much clearer idea of how it all works at the top level of the sport.

"I've been working towards this for the last three years, so I'm going to make the most of it."

The Rallye de la Haute Senne runs on Sunday 20 June, with the first cars beginning at 08.00. They face twelve stages before the first car is expected at the finish ramp at 18.30.

TV TIMES

Posted: June 20, 2010 7:50 PM

(No Live Stages) Times Irish (GMT)

Friday 25 June
22:15-22:45: LIVE from the service park and day highlights (Eurosport and Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Saturday 26 June
09:00-09:30: Day one highlights repeated (Eurosport 2)
21:45-22:15: Day one highlights repeated (Eurosport)
22:15-22:45: LIVE from the service park and day highlights (Eurosport and Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

Sunday 27 June
09:00-09:30: Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport 2)
09:15-09:45: Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport)
22:15-22:45: Magazine programme (Eurosport and Eurosport Asia-Pacific)

GEKO YPRES RALLY PREVIEW

Posted: June 20, 2010 7:47 PM

THE CHALLENGE
The Intercontinental Rally Challenge is back on Tarmac and back in mainland Europe after a thrilling showdown on the demanding gravel roads of Sardinia earlier this month. But the Geko Ypres Rally in northwest Belgium is an asphalt rally like no other.

At first glance the stages appear to represent little in the way of a challenge with long and flat straights and 90-degree junctions characterising the compact route. However, lining the narrow farmland roads are numerous drainage ditches and telegraph pylons waiting to catch out the unwary. Throw in changeable weather and constant surface changes and it soon becomes clear why this rally demands so much respect from the drivers and regularly attracts tens of thousands of enthusiastic spectators.

While it's not uncommon for first timers to win in Ypres (Luca Rossetti and Kris Meeke were victorious on their maiden appearances in 2007 and 2009 respectively), local knowledge is considered essential, particularly knowing where to cut the tight corners and when to play safe by taking a more conventional line to avoid punctures.

Although a powerful engine and strong brakes are essential for being quick in Ypres, with top speeds of up to 170kph drivers have to judge their braking points to perfection in order to maximise the amount of speed they carry into and out of the corners, putting the onus on driver commitment and accurate pacenotes.

Ypres isn't just known for its unique and demanding stages, however. The historic market town, known as Ieper to Flemish speakers, becomes the rally's epicentre for the duration of the event with the central service park dominating the famous Grote Markt and filling the surrounding streets due to the 100-plus entry. Both legs run into the night and the atmosphere in the town when crews return to end of day service in is an experience to savour.

Following shakedown on Thursday evening, crews get Friday morning off before the traditional autograph session and media events. Competitive action gets underway late on Friday afternoon with two loops of three stages south of Ypres, separated by service in the town. The first car is due to reach the overnight halt just after 22:00hrs.

The rally heads west on Saturday morning with two all-new stages, Proven-Vieteren and Watou based around the town of Poperinge. Crews then work their way back to service via the Kemmelberg test to the far south of Ypres. The lunchtime stages use roads around Ypres with the Lille-Eurometropole stage taking place just before 16:00hrs. After another service, the morning stages are repeated with the final runs through the Langemark, Dikkebus and Heuvelland stages being held late into the night on Saturday prior to the finishing ramp ceremony from 22:40hrs.

THE COMPETITORS
Last season, Juho Hanninen, the dominant Intercontinental Rally Challenge leader, would have dreaded the prospect of competing on Tarmac, such was his lack of pace on sealed-surface events. However, the 28-year-old Finn has grown in stature on asphalt since then and was a genuine contender on the first pure asphalt rally of the season in Gran Canaria last month. A third win of the year in Ypres would put him equal first with Kris Meeke on the IRC's all-time list of winners with five victories.

Hanninen lost out on first place on Rally Islas Canarias to factory Skoda Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecky, currently 11 points adrift in the drivers' classification. Kopecky showed well in Ypres last year and his co-driver, Petr Stary, believes the knowledge of the stages the pair gained in 2009 could enable them to run at the front this time around. Both Hanninen and Kopecky will use the Fabia S2000 Facelift, which features a wider track and some small suspension modifications.

With Guy Wilks pulling his entry after fracturing his first and second lumbar vertebrae when he crashed his Skoda UK Fabia at high speed on Rally d'Italia-Sardegna earlier this month, Bruno Magalhaes is well placed to close on third spot in the overall standings. The Peugeot Sport Portugal ace has scored on all five rounds this year but has never competed in Ypres before.

Kris Meeke can count on a more powerful engine and suspension upgrades when he bids to get the defence of his IRC title back on track in his Peugeot UK 207 S2000. The Northern Irishman claimed a sensational victory on his debut appearance in Ypres last season and would relish a repeat win as he tries to cut Hanninen's margin at the top of the title standings.

Meeke's Kronos Racing team-mate, Thierry Neuville, is Belgium's big hope for the future and has the backing of the country's Peugeot importer. He ran as high as fourth in Ypres last year only to crash out. But boosted by his first IRC points' finish in Sardinia, the 21-year-old insists he is under no pressure in Ypres and has lowered his expectations to simply claiming a top 10 finish.

Two local legends will be in action in Ypres: Freddy Loix and Patrick Snijers. Loix is a five-time winner of the event and will have a factory Skoda Fabia S2000 at his disposal for his first IRC start of 2010. The 39-year-old, a winner of three IRC events in the past, still has the pace to run at the front of the field and his intimate knowledge of the stages could give him a vital edge.

Snijers, meanwhile, is now in the twilight of his career but the multiple Belgian champion and former European title-winner, 52, will be determined to put on a strong showing for his adoring fans in his privately-run Peugeot 207.

Ex-Grand Prix driver and current Le Mans racer Stephane Sarrazin will also have a 207 at his disposal, albeit prepared by the factory-assisted PH Sport squad. The rapid Frenchman finished fourth on Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo in January and will be an outside bet for honours.

Ypres marks the first appearance of the season for the factory Proton R3 Rally Team. The Malaysian manufacturer employs the British MEM squad to run its brace of Satria Neo S2000s for Australian Chris Atkinson and Scot Alister McRae, the younger brother of rally legend Colin, while Welsh youngster Tom Cave, 18, will drive a semi-works machine. Proton will use this weekend's Rallye de la Haute Senne in Belgium to fine-tune the set-up of its cars for the asphalt stages.

As well as hosting round six of the IRC, Ypres is also the fourth round of the European Rally Championship. Some of the leading runners from the series, Luca Betti, Corrado Fontana and Michal Solowow, are in action and will be looking to make the most of runaway title leader Luca Rossetti's absence as well as chasing IRC points. But although the Abarth Grande Punto pilot hasn't entered the Tarmac event, Jan Kopecky is eligible for ERC points and will be the favourite to claim a maximum score in the FIA's regional championship.

Another ERC registered driver is Katejan Kajetanowicz. The Pole is contesting selected IRC events in a Subaru Impreza. Three other drivers representing the Japanese marque in Belgium are the experienced Japanese Toshi Arai, young Scot Dave Weston Jr and local driver Vincent Verschueren, who won the recent 12 Hours of Wervik Rally, a non-championship practice event.

The Ralliart challenge is headed by Ypres regular, Dutchman Jasper van den Heuvel, who drives a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. Irish privateer Daniel Barry will use the older Evolution IX version for his third IRC start of 2010.

Like Poland's Michal Solowow, Andreas Mikkelsen will also be at the wheel of an M-Sport Fiesta S2000. The Norwegian showed promise on his first of seven IRC starts in Sardinia as he recovered from his opening stage crash.

Burcu Cetinkaya also got her IRC campaign underway on the Mediterranean island in her Peugeot Sport Turkey 207 only for a mechanical fault to prevent her from going the distance. She is due to complete a test in Belgium on Monday when she tries out her Yokohama tyres on asphalt for the first time.

Brazilian IRC regular Daniel Oliveira is back in action for Stohl Racing after missing Rally d'Italia-Sardegna but there will be no start for fellow Peugeot 207 driver Franz Wittmann after the Austrian wrecked his Interwetten Racing machine when he crashed last time out.

A host of competitors from the Clio R3 European Trophy will bolster the IRC 2WD Cup entry. They include Monte Carlo winner, the experienced Belgian Kris Princen, promising Corsican driver Pierre Campana and talented Dutchman Kevin Abbring. They are eligible for drivers' points on the three combined IRC 2WD Cup and Clio events but Renault is not able to score makes' points.

Up against the Clio runners will be series regulars Kasper Koitla (Honda Civic), Harry Hunt (Ford Fiesta) and Colin R Smith (Civic). With five different winners in the division so far this season, the outcome of the title is still all to play for.

THE EXPECTATIONS

Chris Atkinson (Australia), Proton Satria Neo S2000:
"I really like driving on asphalt and this car suits asphalt from the testing we've done. I have a Belgian co-driver in Stephane Prevot who is very experienced but we have to be realistic for our first IRC rally and just aim for a solid finish."

Kris Meeke (United Kingdom), Peugeot 207 S000:
"I've got a good chance to win again and it's important to get some wins on the board. My car is good enough and we proved last year that our pacenotes were good enough. All I can do now is to try to get the best out of myself."

Thierry Neuville (Belgium), Peugeot 207 S2000:
"Ypres is the most important event of the year for me with lots of people in Belgium looking for my result. But I don't feel under any pressure to try to win because of this. All I want to do is stay on the road and get some experience."

Sarrazin makes IRC return in Ypres

Posted: June 20, 2010 7:15 PM

Stephane Sarrazin will return to the Intercontinental Rally Challenge when he enters the Geko Ypres Rally in Belgium from 24-26 June.

Sarrazin, who finished fourth on the IRC-opening Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo in January, will drive a Peugeot 207 Super 2000 prepared by the French PH Sport concern and with logistical support from Kronos Racing.

The 34-year-old Frenchman, who started a solitary Formula One Grand Prix in 1999, took up rallying in 2004 and quickly established a reputation as a Tarmac expert. He takes part in the IRC qualifier less than two weeks after competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race.

"I've been concentrating on Le Mans recently so I've not had chance to think about it but I always enjoying driving rally cars so I'm excited," said Sarrazin, whose best finish in the IRC so far was the third place he achieved in Monte Carlo in 2009.

Sarrazin will link-up with regular co-driver Jacques-Julien Renucci, who also hails from France.

Arai to use IRC debut for Tarmac experience

Posted: June 20, 2010 7:14 PM

Japanese legend Toshi Arai will make his Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut on the Geko Ypres Rally next week at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRX, run by British firm Prodrive.

Arai, 43, is a regular on world championship rallies and is a two-time winner of the Production Car World Rally Championship (PWRC) title. He is using the Belgian event to build his experience of driving on Tarmac, the surface used for two rounds of this year's PWRC.

Daniel Barritt, his British co-driver, said:
"To be honest the result isn't of major importance and we've got no real aspirations of where we'll be at the finish. Toshi just wants to get a good feeling with the car on asphalt and get some experience of driving on Tarmac under his belt because he hasn't done a Tarmac rally for quite a while. I've got an idea of the characteristics of the roads but we'll both be doing the rally for the first time."

Arai's FIA priority seeding means he will carry the number six on his Impreza.

Cetinkaya hopes test will aid IRC Ypres bid

Posted: June 20, 2010 7:13 PM

Burcu Cetinkaya will use a test in Belgium on Monday (21 June) to complete her preparations for the Geko Ypres Rally, her second of seven planned appearances in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge this season.

The 29-year-old from Turkey has competed on the event twice before in a two-wheel drive Ford Fiesta. Next week's rally will mark the first time she has rallied on Belgian soil in her four-wheel drive Peugeot Sport Turkey 207 Super 2000.

"Ypres has not been the best rally for me because I have crashed on both visits," said the Istanbul resident. "It's a very hard rally because there are lots of grip changes. We have done some testing [on asphalt] in France but those roads were not very typical of what we will find in Belgium. Hopefully the test we do on Monday will help me to prepare. It's also the first time we have used the Yokohama tyres on Tarmac so it's important we get familiar with the tyres during the test."

Franz Wittmann/Klaus Wicha to miss Ypres

Posted: June 20, 2010 6:59 PM

Franz Wittmann and Klaus Wicha have to skip the next run to the IRC, the GEKO Ypres Rally from June 24 to 26. This wasn’t an easy decision for the Interwetten Racing Team.

Wittmann:
“Following the drop out in Sardinia a perfect preparation for the tarmac run in Belgium wouldn’t have been possible. This has nothing to do with our Peugeot 207 S2000. A lot of factors come into play in order to successfully compete in a rally.”

Therefore the focus of the 26-year-old Austrian is now on the preparation for the Rally Azores which will take place from July 15 to 17 on the westernmost archipelago of Europe.

„That is a run which we already know, which will be driven on gravel and where we celebrated a big success last year in the IRC with sixth place. Now we have one month time to recharge our batteries, leave the past behind and focus on the new challenges“, explains Wittmann.

Seeded Entry List avaiable

Posted: June 16, 2010 3:03 PM

Available on the Event Website under "Spectators":

WILKS/SKODA UK NOT TAKING PART

Posted: June 12, 2010 1:09 PM

Škoda UK Motorsport has decided not to compete in the Geko Ypres Rally (24-26 June) and will continue to monitor Guy’s progress closely in order to decide on its next IRC event.

The IRC structure of counting drivers’ seven best scores from 12 rallies towards the title allows Škoda UK Motorsport to miss the Belgium event without much consequence. Guy is currently lying 3rd in the drivers’ standings having scored four points-scoring results from five starts – two 2nds (Brazil and Argentina), one 3rd (Gran Canarias) and a 6th place finish (Monte Carlo). The Ypres Rally marks the halfway point in the series, with six rallies remaining thereafter.

Guy Wilks:
“I’m feeling better every day and I’m able to walk around with a brace on to support my back. The doctors in Italy were very good, but I certainly wanted to get a second opinion from a specialist at home, someone I either knew or could talk to without the language barrier, and my doctor said that in terms of breaking your back, my situation is not so bad.

“I’m going to an oxygen chamber to accelerate my recovery, as this will help speed up the growth of the bone and heal the fracture quicker. My doctor has also given me a training programme for the swimming pool and some floor exercises which will strengthen my back, and I’m not far away from taking the brace off completely.

“I’m massively disappointed not to be going to Ypres, because it’s such a fantastic event. I hope to have another chance at contesting it in the future. The priority for me right now is to get back to full fitness, so I can score more podiums and rally wins in the years ahead.”

Škoda UK Motorsport and Guy wish to thank the doctors and staff at the Multiple Sclerosis Society Therapy Centre in Middlesbrough for their help.

List of Entires Received

Posted: June 9, 2010 1:41 PM

List of Entries received available under "SPECTATORS" on the event website:

Barry & Brady plan early Belgian practice

Posted: June 9, 2010 10:41 AM

Great number of Super 2000 cars and top drivers - Oiger to take part

Posted: June 4, 2010 10:45 AM

Less than a month to go to the 2010 Geko Ypres Rally and we are starting to get a good picture of what the list of participants will look like. Some put their name down on Day One of the registrations but amongst the top drivers, we are still waiting for a few big names. The most important category is of course the Super 2000 category and we do have a nice crowd there already. We should even beat last year's record number of participants. At this moment already 27 cars have entered.

Skoda has confirmed that its usual factory drivers, Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky, will be in Ypres as well as Guy Wilks who gets the backing of Skoda UK. They will have fend off "mister Ypres Rally"- Freddy Loix ? but also Bernd Casier who is always very fast on the roads around Ypres. We will also have some outsiders with a Skoda, such as Didier Van Wijnsberghe, Dutch champion Mark Van Eldik and Antonin Tlusák and Pavel Odlozilik, both participants to the European Rally Championship.

Shining WRC star Sebastien Ogier at the start

The main competitor of Skoda in Ypres will of course be Peugeot 207 Super 2000, especially the one with Kris Meeke behind the wheel, winner of the Ypres Rally in 2009. The man from Ireland will not be the only big name this year though as up-and-coming WRC star Sebastien Ogier will be on the starting grid too. The very fast Frenchman is looking forward to take the battle to the experienced S2000 drivers, just like he did at the Monte Carlo Rally earlier this year. The Belgian colours will be sported by Pieter Tsjoen and Patrick Snijers, both top specialists of the event, and Thierry Neuville who showed his great pace last year already in his then first ever rally with a Super 2000 car. The Peugeot gang will be completed by Bruno Magalhaes of Portugal, Daniël Oliveira of Brasil, Corrado Fontana of Italy, Austrian Franz Wittmann and the charming Burçu Cetinkaya of Turkey. The latter will have to fend off our Belgian flying lady, Melissa Debackere, to capture the "lady's trophee".

Ford is the new name in Super 2000 this year and they have decided to send Hankook driver Andreas Mikkelsen to the Geko Ypres Rally with an M-Sport Fiesta. Michal Solowow and Maciej Oleksowicz of Poland will both bring their own Fiesta S2000. The two official Protons Satria will be driven by Alistair McRae and Chris Atkinson. Both are former WRC factory drivers and Ypres will be a serious challenge for them. A third Proton will be driven by privateer Tom Cave.

So what about Abarth? Tim Van Parijs will be there, but so far we have not heard anything from the Italian side, although we do expect ERC contender and Ypres 2008 winner Luca Rossetti to come to Belgium. Maybe he will also bring his team mate, and also former Ypres winner (2006), Giandomenico Basso.

Things are really looking good in the Super 2000 category as well for quality and numbers. This should again be a top year!

Ypres organisers target 30 Super 2000 cars

Posted: May 27, 2010 11:16 AM

Organisers of the Geko Ypres Rally, round six of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge from 24-26 June, are hopeful of attracting 30 Super 2000 cars for the asphalt event.

With a little more than two weeks to go until entries close for the 46th running of the rally, event manager Alain Penasse has confirmed there are already 27 S2000 cars on the provisional list of registrations with more in the pipeline.

"There is huge interest and it's high quality also, which makes this a very exciting rally," said Penasse. "We have 27 Super 2000 cars and we'd very much like to breach the barrier of 30 cars, which would be the first time a rally has achieved that."

So far, 76 crews have entered the Belgian event, which can accommodate a total of 90 cars. Entries close at 24:00hrs on 11 June and organisers are urging competitors not to delay submitting their registrations based on the high level of interest.

PROTON to start IRC campaign on Geko Ypres Rally

Posted: May 20, 2010 8:01 PM

The PROTON R3 Rally Team will start its Intercontinental Rally Challenge campaign on next months Geko Ypres Rally. 

The British-based MEM team which prepares and runs the official Satria Neo S2000s will send two cars to the classic two-day Belgian event which is rated as one of the best asphalt rallies in the world. The PROTON R3 Rally Team line up for its first IRC appearance of the year will remain the same as for this years FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship: Scotsman Alister McRae and Australian Chris Atkinson. 

The PROTON R3 Rally Team is currently in Japan preparing for the second round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Rally Hokkaido, which gets underway on Friday evening. 

McRae contested the final round of last years IRC series with PROTON, collecting the teams best result so far by finishing second overall on the Rally of Scotland after a trouble-free run in the Satria Neo S2000. 

Quotes: 

Alister McRae said: 

Ypres is an exceptional event. The stages are legendary in Europe and it has to be one of the best-supported rallies in the world; the locals are all really big fans of the sport - its always a great atmosphere. The roads in Belgium can be really difficult, though. There are some big ditches at the side of the road which seem to be able to swallow a car whole! The other factor on the Ypres Rally is the weather, it can be prone to changing very quickly - coming from Scotland Im pretty well used to that! Starting out IRC campaign in Ypres is good news, its a very high-profile event and, coming a little bit later next month, it will give us the opportunity to get some asphalt testing in with the Satria Neo S2000. 

Chris Mellors (team principal) said: 

Its no secret that we had looked at starting our IRC programme in Sardinia, but weve decided to go for Ypres instead. If we had gone to Olbia with the car, it would have seriously restricted the amount of asphalt testing wed have been able to do with the car before Belgium. Having seen the way weve been able to develop the car on the gravel with the extra loose-surface testing over the winter, we felt it made more sense to focus on preparing the cars and drivers for Ypres, which is undoubtedly one of the classic European events. The focus of this season is the Asia Pacific Rally Championship and, after leading and running so well last time out in Malaysia, were looking for a win in Japan this week. At the same time, the IRC is probably the most competitive series in the world for Super 2000 cars and by extension a great place to show the pace of the PROTON - and thats what well be doing in Ypres and on a programme of events later in the season.   

Bettega to make international return in the IRC

Posted: April 23, 2010 10:08 AM

Alessandro Bettega will use June's Geko Ypres Rally to make his return to international competition.

The highly-rated 29-year-old Italian will contest the Clio R3 European Trophy section of the famous asphalt event, round six of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, from June 24-26. He hopes to secure sufficient funds to add the IRC-counting Barum Czech Rally Zlin to his schedule as well.

Bettega is no stranger to the Ypres Rally, having tackled the event in 2008 at the wheel of a Honda Civic Type R. However, that outing ended in a sizeable crash.

"I like the rally but my memories are not so good because of the crash," said Bettega. "But it was not all bad because before the crash I was second in my class to Kris Princen, who has a lot of experience on the event."

Clio R3 European Trophy competitors are eligible for IRC 2WD Cup points on the three rounds supporting the IRC.

4 Promotion cups in Ypres

Posted: April 23, 2010 10:07 AM

An event can be the high-point of the Belgian rally season and one of the key races of the European Rally Championship and Intercontinental Rally Challenge but still remain accessible for the amateur drivers without whom rallying would not be the discipline it is. This is what the Geko Belgium Ypres Rally will prove again on 25 and 26 June by being one of the main event of no less than four single-make cups.

Promotion cups are without doubt the best way for young talented drivers to gain experience in road racing and prove their metal. They are also the perfect way to get noticed by the rest of the rallying community, especially when you line yourself up at the start of an international event like the Geko Ypres Rally. The organisers of the Citroën Racing Trophy Benelux, the Ford Fiesta Sport Trophy, the Peugeot 207 RC Cup and the Renault Clio R3 European Trophy clearly share our opinion as they all put the Geko Ypres Rally on their calendar. Given the intensity of these battles with equal weapons, one knows the heat will sure be on!

Entry fee unchanged and discount for the cup-drivers

The other amateur drivers are of course also very welcome to take up the challenge in this prestigious event. It always is an experience not to forget. It is with this in mind that the organizers of the Geko Belgium Ypres Rally have 'frozen' the entry fees for the grand classic of Belgian rallying. Entry fees will remain unchanged compared to last year. Better even, the participants of the promotion cups will even get a 200 € discount!

"I have always been promoting rallying as a sport and have often concentrated on pushing young talent forward," explains Alain Penasse, the new "chief in command" of the Ypres Rally. "So it makes sense that we keep working along these lines when organising the Geko Ypres Rally."

Rally Guide 1 / Regulations / Event Website /Entry Form

Posted: January 1, 2010 12:01 AM

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