In the dry, the Geko Ypres Rally is recognised as one of Europe’s toughest rallying challenges. In the wet, it becomes a race on a roulette wheel. The PROTON Motorsports team endured a mixed weekend at the table. Giandomenico Basso (Italy) showed great pace before crashing on Saturday morning, while Ypres rookie P-G Andersson (Sweden) rose to the challenge only to miss out on a top-10 finish after putting his Satria Neo S2000 off the road on the final test. He finished 19th.
As well as being one of the toughest events, the Geko Ypres Rally is also one of the most popular in Europe. With a spectacular field of 120 cars, the competition down the straights and through the ditch-lined square corners is always red-hot. And this year was no different as the event got underway at a staggering pace. A change of weather came for the second day, as the overcast conditions delivered the rain they had threatened in time for Saturday morning’s re-start.
When the rain arrives, this rally becomes one for the experts. Local drivers know which corner to cut and how deep to cut it; slashing their way through the corners pulls a huge amount of mud out onto the road for competitors following. For those who haven’t been on these lanes before, deciding how hard to push on the Teflon-slippery surface is a mighty balancing act to perform. But Andersson managed it, bringing the PROTON home to score a valuable manufacturers’ point for the Malaysian manufacturer.
Basso ran the car in the same specification he used on the previous round in Ukraine, before taking the team’s advice and fine-tuning the PROTON to the precise requirements of the notoriously tough Belgian lanes. He was on the fringes of the top 10 after Friday night, despite cooking the soft tyres he’d elected to run on the second loop of stages. Unfortunately for the double European Rally Champion, that was as far as he would go, after he knocked the front-left wheel off the Satria at a notorious corner in the Proven-Vieteren stage first thing on Saturday morning.
Andersson’s times improved as he continued to level his learning curve on this rally. The Swede visited a couple of fields on his way through the event, but he posted more and more top-10 times as the event progressed and he was chasing an overall result and IRC points to reflect those times when he took a rear wheel off his PROTON on the final test.
Andersson’s efforts were well received by the incredible crowds who lined the route and combined to make the centre of Ypres on Friday night one of the atmospheric highlights in the European season. Once again, PROTON made plenty of new friends and a manufacturers’ point for PROTON ensured a return for those who rolled the ball and came up with ‘yellow eight.’
P-G Andersson said:
“I was learning something new all of the time on this rally. I’d never been to Ypres before, so I really didn’t have much of an idea of what was coming – and it was a very specialised rally. The more experience I got the more comfortable I felt with the car and better everything was working, although I did go off the road on a couple of occasions while I was pushing quite hard early on. The car was working well and I think we would have finished inside the top 10, if I hadn’t clipped something with the rear of the car on the final stage.”
Giandomenico Basso said:
“Everything was looking quite good until there was a small wall in the grass and I didn’t see it. I cut the corner, hit the wall and took the front wheel off the car, it wasn’t possible to continue. It’s very disappointing because we really had the potential to make the good result here and I was really hoping that would happen for all of the team, but it’s not possible and it’s really a shame.”
Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“The drivers have said it all for me here. This has been a disappointing event. Once again, we’ve shown good pace, but because of some mistakes we haven’t been able reap the rewards of the improvements we’ve made to the car. The whole team knows how important it is for us to start registering scores in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge and I feel this was something of a missed opportunity to get a decent haul of points. Granted, it is a difficult rally to come to for the first time – it’s not just another asphalt rally – and that job is made even tougher when we get some changeable conditions, but a couple of top 10 finishes would have been very nice this weekend. We came here on a high after finishing first and third in New Caledonia and we’re back to the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship for New Zealand [International Rally of Whangarei, July 15-17] in a couple of weeks; the whole team’s looking forward to that event and I think we’re certainly chasing a third win of the APRC year down under.”
Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri Excluded
Posted: August 5, 2011 2:42 PM
Post-event technical checks revealed the car’s steering contravened FIA regulations due to an error in assembly.
10th in IRC for Barrable/Connelly on Ypres Rally
Posted: June 28, 2011 12:02 PM
Robert Barrable winner of the Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman award supported by the Irish Sports Council, in his Skoda Fabia S2000 with Monaghan co-driver Damien Connolly drove an excellent rally to finish 10th IRC overall on the weekends GEKO Ypres Rally in Belgium. The event was Robert’s first time competing on the Ypres event which is seen as very much a specialist tarmac rally in the championship calendar and the event was also the young Dubliners first time competing in an IRC round. “The Ypres Rally is a very difficult tarmac rally and the stages are unique and very different to Irish tarmac rallies. I have always wanted to take part in the event so the weekend is a dream come through for me” said Robert prior to starting the event on Friday afternoon. Robert set an early indication of his intention for the weekend’s event setting 10th fastest time through the pre-event shakedown stage, his first taste of the Belgium tarmac stages. The rally kicked off on Friday afternoon with the competing crews tackling a loop of three stages which they repeated prior to the final service of the day and the overnight halt. The opening two stages Robert took up where he had left off from the shakedown setting 8th and 5th fastest time through the opening stages ‘Dikkebus-Westouter’ and ‘Mesen-Sauvegarde’ to lie 7th in the overall in the standings and third best Skoda driver with only the Skoda’s of Loix and Weijs ahead of him. Into stage three Robert turned into a ninety right and was carrying too much speed the Skoda slide wide and caught the grass verge and slipped into a drain pitching the car in the air, the result, Robert lost about a minute and slipped to 24th overall. After service the crews tackled the same three stages and Robert and Damien started their quest to return to the top ten setting top fifteen stage times through the final three stages of the day to emerge at the final service in 17th place overall.
Heavy overnight rain and a damp start on day two presented a new challenge for competitors with tyre choice for the opening loop of stages critical. Robert started the day’s opening loop of three stages on an intermediate and soon discovered as the stages dried that a cut slick would have been the better option, he returned to service having moved up to 14th overall. The second day of the rally had a total of eleven special stages and with almost all the stages repeated, they tarmac became extremely slippy due to the mud being pulled on to the road as a result of the big cuts the leading cars were taking. With the right tyres on the Skoda Robert continued to pursue a top ten finish through the afternoon setting three top ten stage times on the closing stages to finish the rally in 10th place overall and scoring one IRC championship point. “This is a great rally and I have really enjoyed the event, the stages are really fast and challenging and with the overnight rain they were really tricky today. It was a pity about the overshoot on stage three yesterday but it appears to be a corner that caught out a few drivers, I will be marking the corner in the notes for next year. I am really happy with the result and I hope to be back here next year to improve on tenth place” commented Robert after the rally.
Next up for Robert is his own club rally the ALMC Stages which takes place on Sunday the 17th July on stages in counties Meath and Louth.
Kick Energy rally driver Steve Perez saw his hopes of success on the Ypres Historic Rally disappear with a high speed crash which ended his event on SS7.
Along with Ulster co driver Stephen McAuley, the Chesterfield driver made a steady start in the Lancia Stratos and held 22nd after the opening few stages on Friday but soon made progress on Saturday morning.
However, it all ended in disaster when at over 100mph, Perez suffered a suspected broken wheel which caused the iconic Italian machine to veer off the road and collide with a bank.
Both crew were luckily uninjured apart from bruising and Perez commented: "I think I clipped a bank on the previous corner which must have broken the wheel as I lost control as soon as I hit the brakes. It was a big crash and the car held up well but it means no points for us in the Gentlemen's World Rally Class (G-WRC) and there's a huge amount of work to do before next month's Midnight Sun Rally."
IRC Report: SEVENTH HEAVEN FOR LOIX IN YPRES
Posted: June 27, 2011 11:11 AM
Freddy Loix has maintained his comfortable overnight lead to win the GEKO Ypres Rally for a seventh time today (Saturday). Loix led the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier from start to finish and moves back to the top of the IRC standings as a result. His victory, at the wheel of a SKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000, also puts him joint top with Juho Hanninen in the list of all-time IRC event winners, with seven triumphs to his name.
Loix, who was co-driven by fellow Belgian Frederic Miclotte, was in control throughout the event. Not even rainfall prior to Saturday’s opening test knocked him off his stride as he sped to a commanding victory by 1m41.6s over Peugeot France driver Bryan Bouffier. Hans Weijs claimed an impressive third on his debut behind the wheel of a Fabia and on his first start in this year’s IRC.
Guy Wilks began day two in second overall and on a high aboard his Peugeot UK 207 after he set the fastest time on the day’s first stage. But a double puncture on stage 10 wrecked his hopes and dropped him to 11th overall. Despite a slow puncture causing a spin on stage 15 and a further deflation on stage 16 holding him back, Wilks snatched fifth on the final stage with the fastest time.
“We’re at the finish but we didn’t get the result that mattered and that’s a real shame,” said Wilks. “The car was great although we didn’t get the luck we needed. But there’s no point thinking about it. We have to put it behind us and move on to the next rally.”
Bouffier was the chief beneficiary of Wilks’ downfall when he moved up to second overall, having overtaken Pieter Tsjoen for the final podium place on stage eight. While Bouffier enjoyed a trouble-free run to the finish, Tsjoen was not so fortunate following a bizarre incident on the road section heading to stage 11.
The six-time Belgian champion had stopped by the side of the road for a short break but inadvertently struck a small metal post as he pulled away, which damaged his Peugeot 207’s radiator. Although he made it through the stage, he and co-driver Lara Vanneste were unable to stem a water leak despite frantic repairs and the advice of several rival crews.
With Tsjoen out, Dutchman Weijs was now third and embroiled in a close fight with Bernd Casier, which raged until stage 14 when the Belgian stopped with power steering failure. Weijs had only managed a two-hour test in his Fabia before the start and his determined performance earned him the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which is presented on all rounds of the IRC to the driver best embodying the spirit of the rally legend.
Casier’s unfortunate exit promoted Michal Solowow into a fine fourth with his M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000. But the Pole needed all his ingenuity to rectify a sticking throttle and reach the finish in Ypres’s historic Grote Markt.
Like Wilks, Kruuda was also slowed by a spate of punctures, while a minor intercom glitch on stage 10 didn’t help his progress. However, he belied his lack of experience of asphalt driving to finish sixth and score points for his second event in a row.
Toni Gardemeister took a strong seventh on his Ypres debut but the Finn could have finished higher up the order in his TGS Worldwide Fabia had it not been for a time-consuming puncture on stage 10.
Luca Rossetti, the Ypres winner in 2007, overcame a spin on stage seven and two punctures in the afternoon to claim eighth overall in his Abarth Grande Punto. Bernard Ten Brinke landed his maiden IRC points in ninth with Robert Barrable also bagging his first IRC point in tenth overall following an impressive showing on his Ypres debut.
Barrable thought he’d lost the place with an overshoot on the final stage but when the pursuing Swede PG Andersson, in a PROTON Motorsports Satria Neo S2000, damaged the left-rear corner of his car early in the test, Irishman Barrable kept hold of the position.
Frenchman Julien Maurin overcame early setbacks to clinch 11th in his M-Sport Fiesta, but there would be no finish for Andersson’s PROTON team-mate Giandomenico Basso, who crashed into a ditch after striking a rock on Saturday’s first stage. The Italian was firmly in contention for a top 10 finish at the time.
Andreas Mikkelsen recorded four stage wins for SKODA UK Motorsport after he restarted under SupeRally regulations following his stage one exit. Thierry Neuville, one of the pre-event favourites for victory in his Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207, also returned for Saturday’s action but withdrew after stage eight with suspension damage caused by striking a rock.
Belgian Jonas Langenakens won the IRC Production Cup with countryman Anthony Martin second in another Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer. But the standout performance came from Jasper van den Heuvel in his R4-specification Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer, who finished third in class despite being delayed through repairing damaged brakes and suspension during the course of the rally.
It was the first appearance on an international event for van den Heuvel and co-driver Martine Kolman since they suffered burns in a crash on a rally in Germany last August. At the finish, Kolman announced her retirement from competition. Philip Barbier was the leading Subaru Impreza finisher in fifth.
Local hero Kris Princen took the IRC 2WD Cup laurels after long-term leader Kevin Abbring lost precious minutes stuck in a ditch on stage 14. Irish driver Tommy Doyle was a fine second with Abbring recovering to fourth. Martin Kangur was the top Honda Civic finisher in 11th with Matthias Boon 12th in his Skoda Fabia R2. Gearbox problems forced IRC 2WD Cup champion Harry Hunt’s retirement on Saturday morning.
Freddy Loix (Belgium), Skoda Fabia S2000, first overall: “It was a strange rally because although we had a big lead we had to control that for two days, which was not so easy. But at the end I am very happy with this victory although it would have been better with a bigger fight.”
Bryan Bouffier (France), Peugeot 207 S2000, second overall: “I needed a good result here and maybe second was more than my expectation coming to this rally because I knew it was a tricky race. My target was to finish so a podium is really fantastic.”
Hans Weijs (Netherlands), Skoda Fabia S2000, third overall: “With not so much experience I wanted to reach the finish to increase my experience and that’s what I did. It was a shame Bernd [Casier] had his problem because I had a good fight with him.”
Posted: June 27, 2011 10:02 AM
1 Freddy Loix/Frederic Miclotte (Skoda Fabia S2000) 2h40m03.9s
Excl Bryan Bouffier/Xavier Panseri (Peugeot 207 S2000) +1m41.6s
2 Hans Weijs/Bjorn Degandt (Skoda Fabia S2000) +3m56.9s
3 Michal Solowow/Maciej Baran (Ford Fiesta S2000) +6m06.8s
4 Patrick Snijers/Johan Gitsels (BMW Mini Countryman S2000) +6m20.0s
5 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Peugeot 207 S2000) +6m33.8s
6 Karl Kruuda/Martin Jarveoja (Skoda Fabia S2000) +6m40.6s
7 Toni Gardemeister/Tapio Suominen (Skoda Fabia S2000) +6m57.4s
8 Luca Rossetti/Matteo Chiarcossi (Fiat Abarth Grande Punto S2000) +7m25.0s
9 Bernard Ten Brinke/Davy Thierie (Skoda Fabia S2000) +7m37.3s
10 Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly (Skoda Fabia S2000) +7m53.8s
20 Tommy Doyle/Liam Moynihan (Renault Cilo R3) (1st Class)
33 Neil McCance/Anthony O'Conaill (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9)
Jonathan Greer/Dia Roberts (Skoda Fabia S2000) Retired
Jonny Leonard/Jackie Elliot (Ford Fiesta R2) Retired
Mark Donnelly/Barry McNulty (Renault Cilo R3) Retired
The worldwide nature of PROTON Motosports’ 2011 rally programme is demonstrated in the next nine days as the Malaysian manufacturer competes on either side of the globe in two of the most competitive rally championships in the world.
Just days after completing the second round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, the Rallye De Nouvelle Caledonie (New Caledonia), the PROTON team heads north of the equator for the Geko Ypres Rally, round five of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
P-G Andersson (Sweden) and Giandomenico Basso (Italy) will be reunited with their Satria Neo S2000s for the all-asphalt Belgian classic. Two-time European Rally Champion, Basso is a former winner of the Geko Ypres Rally; Andersson will rely heavily on his team-mate’s knowledge as the double Junior World Rally Champion has never competed on the rally previously.
The Geko Ypres Rally is based around the town of Ypres in north-west Belgium. And, next week, that town is taken over by hundreds of thousands of rally fans from across the continent. The event is a true classic and an enormous challenge. Unlike any other asphalt rounds in the championship, the smooth Belgian roads slice their way through the farmland with only square corner after square corner likely to slow the speeding Satrias.
In a hectic, 30-hour schedule, Basso and Andersson will tackle a 649-kilometre route, including 18 stages that comprise 287 competitive kilometres. What makes this event even tougher is the notoriously fickle weather and the fact that five of the stages will be run in fading light or complete darkness.
When the PROTONs arrive at the Grote Markt in the centre of Ypres at the end of Saturday, they will have completed one of rallying’s toughest tests.
And don’t forget, just six days earlier, Chris Atkinson and Alister McRae will have done the same thing on the earth’s other side.
P-G Andersson said:
“I have never done this rally before, but I have seen the stages and the number of people out there spectating is just incredible. I think we’re in for a rally with a lot of atmosphere! Unfortunately, I think it can be quite tough for drivers to go there without so much experience and try to win the rally; some of the roads are quite specialised. We showed last time in Ukraine that the team is making good progress with the car, the car is definitely getting quicker, and I’m sure we will continue to do the same in Belgium.”
Giandomenico Basso said:
“I’m looking forward to this event, I have won here before and it’s always a big challenge with a lot of really fast local drivers. The last rally we did [the PRIME Yalta Rally] with the car showed that we have made progress with the Satria. This is the good thing, the car is better and better, we are really improving. I want to come out and be fast in Ypres.”
Chris Mellors (team principal) said:
“Ypres is one of the biggest rallies in Europe and you always get a great welcome when you get over there. As a team, we’re looking to deliver on the promise we showed in Yalta; analysing the times, you can see that we’re right on the cusp with the car. We believe we have the right package to deliver a result in Ypres, we’ve certainly got the most talented drivers in P-G and Giandomenico. P-G’s right when he says it will be tough to go to that event for the first time, but he’s going to be able to get some good advice from Giandomenico, who has won in the past. But, before that next IRC round, we’re competing in New Caledonia in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship this weekend. Obviously, we’re eager to see what the boys can do on that event. It would be nice to go to Belgium on the back of a second APRC win of the year.”
Ralliart Lancer E4 set for IRC debut in Ypres
Posted: June 24, 2011 12:18 PM
The R4-specification Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X will make its Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut when the series resumes on the GEKO Ypres Rally in Belgium this week.
Dutch ace Jasper van den Heuvel, who has vast experience of the challenging asphalt event, will drive the car for his family-run Van den Heuvel Motorsport team with assistance from Ralliart Italia and its sporting director Jack de Keijzer.
A second car will be entered for van den Heuvel’s countryman Michiel Eckhaus.
The R4 regulations are new for this season and have been designed to lower the performance gap between conventional Group N production cars and the pacesetting Super 2000 machines through a series of weight reductions and handling gains.
Subaru gave its R4-specification Impreza its IRC debut on last month’s Tour de Corse-E.Leclerc. Toshi Arai, from Japan, finished 13th overall.
Kopecky and Stary forced to withdraw from Ypres Rally
Posted: June 24, 2011 11:46 AM
Jan Kopecky and his co-driver Petr Stary have been forced to withdraw their entry from the GEKO Ypres Rally, round five of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The SKODA Motorsport duo were among the favourites to win the asphalt event in their Fabia Super 2000 but suffered a crash during the pre-rally shakedown on Thursday evening.
Although Kopecky was uninjured, Stary awoke in the night complaining of pains in his right collarbone, which SKODA officials suspect to be a broken collarbone. He is now preparing to go to a local hospital for checks and a routine x-ray.
Karel Pokorny, the press officer for SKODA Motorsport, said: “The pain was worse than yesterday on his right side and when Petr tried to sit in the car this morning with the seatbelt on there was no chance to breathe normally. Petr will go to hospital and they have decided to cancel their participation on the GEKO Ypres Rally.”
Kopecky, who is currently second in the IRC drivers’ standings, said: “We had a good chance to be in a good position at the finish of the rally so the disappointment is huge. However, Petr’s health is the priority.”
Pokorny confirmed that the car, which sustained front-end damage during the impact with a small bridge, has been fully repaired.
Posted: June 24, 2011 10:41 AM
Video: Peugeot UK Ypres Rally Preview
Posted: June 24, 2011 10:33 AM
Video: Colin Clark previews Rally Ypres
Posted: June 24, 2011 9:41 AM
Mikkelsen back on more familiar ground in Ypres
Posted: June 22, 2011 12:42 PM
Until now, 2011 has been full of new adventures for Andreas Mikkelsen, contesting rallies that were completely new to him or that bore little resemblance to when he’d done them before. Having finished 5th on the Geko Ypres Rally last year, the Škoda UK Motorsport Fabia S2000 driver will be on more familiar ground when the Round 5 of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) gets underway on Friday 24 June, as 80% of the route is exactly the same as last year.
Unlucky punctures on both the Tour de Corse and Prime Yalta Rallies cost Andreas podium finishes on the previous two rounds of the IRC. Great performances still allowed him to finish a very strong 6th and 4th respectively, and the 21-year old FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy driver knows that with slightly better luck, he and co-driver Ola Fløene will be able to challenge for another good finish in Belgium.
The Geko Ypres Rally is one of the most difficult events in the IRC, with very technical stages and a truly star-studded 124-car capacity entry list. The rally, which this year has Škoda has its official car supplier, is famous for its very fast and smooth asphalt roads which criss-cross flat and open farmland. Many of the hundreds of square corners are virtually indistinguishable from each another, especially at night, but they are very different in terms of what optimum speed a rally car can negotiate them. Vital seconds can be gained when accurate pace notes or local knowledge is deployed, whilst deep drainage ditches await the unwary.
This year’s event is also a round of the FIA European and BFO Belgian Rally Championships, and in previous years it has been largely the domain of local drivers – with Škoda Belgium’s Freddy Loix winning for a record sixth time in 2010.
Loix will be one of the favourites this year, as an amazing international entry includes 31 Super 2000 cars – 13 of them Škoda Fabia S2000s. In addition to Andreas and Loix, Britain’s Jonathan Greer and Ireland’s Robert Barrable (who currently lie 3rd and 7th respectively in the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship) will rally their Fabia S2000s in Ypres, as will Jan Kopecký (Czech Republic), Toni Gardemeister (Finland), Bernd Casier (Belgium) and Hans Weijs (Holland).
The rally is one of the most popular in northern Europe. Thousands of fans come to see the high-speed action and soak up the electric atmosphere in the historic Ypres market place (Grote Markt), where next to the famous Cloth Hall (the Lakenhalle) is the start, finish and service area. Many British fans come over to Ypres, as it’s only 124 miles (200kms) from central London.
Andreas: “The Ypres Rally will be very tough, especially against the local drivers like Freddy Loix and Thierry Neuville who know the roads so well, but we still have the possibility to do very well ourselves. Our pace has been getting better and better in the Fabia S2000 this year and now we are up with the fastest in the IRC. We made good progress in Corsica and then took another step up in Ukraine, and we can go even faster still. Ypres is the first rally in this year’s IRC that I have done before and eighty per cent of the stages are the same as last year.
“I think that with a good recce and very good pace notes we can really challenge for a top finish. We’ve had a little bit of bad luck this year, but I have a very good feeling about Ypres.”
The 47th Geko Ypres Rally starts from the historic Ypres market place at 16.15 on Friday 24 June. Two loops of three stages follow, including the new stage of Dikkebus –Westouter (a combination of two popular stages) and the classic Langemark and Mesen-Sauvegarde tests. After 60.4 miles (97.22kms) of flat-out competition, Leg 1 comes to an end just after midnight.
Leg 2 starts at 10.20 on Saturday morning with a further 12 stages (totalling 119.37 miles/192.11kms) ahead, including the traditional Kemmel, Watou, Proven-Vleteren, Hollebeke and Heuvelland tests, which are each tackled twice. At 17.9 miles (28.82kms) long, Hollebeke is the longest stage of the event. The rally will also have two stages across the border in northern France; the all-new special stage of Lille Métropole will be held in the vicinity of Linselles, whereas the show special stage in the centre of Wasquehal remains.
After a total of 18 special stages (10 of which are different) and 178.94 miles (287.99kms) of stages, the winners are scheduled to arrive at the finish ramp at 22.38 on Saturday (25 June).
Eurosport will broadcast edited highlights of the event, so please check TV listings for details.
THE FAST AND FLAT STAGES OF YPRES ARE THE NEXT CHALLENGE FOR GUY WILKS AND PHIL PUGH
Posted: June 22, 2011 12:40 PM
Peugeot has already won the Ypres Rally a total of five times and Guy and Phil will be aiming to make it six.
Peugeot’s five Ypres rally wins started back in 2002 and 2003 when Bruno Thiry won the event driving a Peugeot 206 WRC. Three other victories were added to the total in 2007, 2008 and 2009 by drivers of Peugeot’s 207 S2000, including Peugeot UK’s Kris Meeke, who won the rally in 2009.
The rally is based around the historic market town of Ypres in northwest Belgium and the compact nature of the event makes it a big favourite with crews and fans alike.
The uniformly flat, narrow, ultra-fast tarmac stages and countless 90-degree junctions require a special type of driving. Local knowledge is, therefore, a big advantage, particularly knowing where to cut corners - or not - to avoid possible punctures.
Peugeot UK has a good record at Ypres, winning the event in 2009, and will be aiming to repeat this victory when the rally kicks-off late on Friday afternoon. Friday’s action will consist of six stages north and southwest of Ypres.
Day Two will commence on Saturday morning with a total of twelve stages between the crews and the finish of the rally, late on Saturday night.
Before the end of the rally, Guy and Phil will have to complete a total of 287.89 kilometres of special stages and a further 361.98 kilometres of road sections between the stages and the service area in Ypres.
To prepare for the rally, Guy completed two days of testing on similar roads to those found around Ypres to fine tune his Peugeot UK 207 S2000. Having missed the last Ypres rally in 2010 due to injury, this extra testing is a perfect start to ensuring Guy is fully prepared for the fast and tricky Belgium tarmac stages.
“We have only been to Ypres on one other occasion”, comments Guy. “More than anything else, I want to make up for my woes in the Ukraine where I was stopped from fighting for victory by a number of punctures. My recent two days of testing were very fruitful. My Peugeot 207 S2000 will be competitive and, therefore, my objective is to get back into the fight for the IRC title.”
A total of 124 crews will set off at the start of the rally on Friday with a total of nine Peugeot 207 S2000s aiming to be on the top step of the podium when the rally finishes on Saturday evening.
Rally Radio LIVE at Ypres Rally
Posted: June 21, 2011 11:21 AM
Rally Ypres, Round 5 of the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge, gets under way on Friday, and Rally Radio by iRally will be broadcasting from Belgium throughout the event, bringing live reports and interviews from the Stage Ends and Service Park.
The Ypres event is one of the important rallies in Europe, and has been a mainstay of the IRC since it first began. Thousands of spectators have booked to attend, and the event features top stars like Guy Wilks, Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Freddy Loix.
Julian "The Guru" Porter anchors the programme, and Colin Clark and Lisa O'Sullivan will be out and about reporting from the stages.
You can listen to Rally Radio by iRally on the free iRally App for the iPhone and iPad, available from the App Store.
The station can also be heard through rallyradio.com, and via the link on Rally.ie.
Posted: June 20, 2011 5:40 PM
All Times Ireland / UK
Friday 24 June:
21:30-22:00: Day one highlights LIVE from the service park (Eurosport 2)
23:00-23:30: Day one highlights LIVE from the service park – delayed (Eurosport)
23:00-23:30: Day one highlights LIVE from the service park – delayed (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
Saturday 25 June:
23:00-23:30: Day two highlights (Eurosport)
02:00-02:30: Day one highlights LIVE from the service park repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
05:15-05:45: Day one highlights LIVE from the service park repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
09:15-09:45: Day one highlights LIVE from the service park repeated (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
23:00-23:30: Day two highlights (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
Sunday 26 June:
05:15-05:45: Day two highlights (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
07:30-08:00: Day two highlights repeated (Eurosport)
19:00-19:30: Day two highlights (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
20:30-21:00: Rally Review (Eurosport)*
23:00-23:30: Rally Review (Eurosport Asia-Pacific)
* This programme will be start at 25:30hrs (01:30AM) local time on Eurosport France
A mainstay of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge since the series’ inception in 2007, the Geko Ypres Rally is one of the highlights of the IRC season. Based in the historic market town of Ypres in northwest Belgium, the event’s central location and compact route makes it a must for competitors and fans alike.
At first glance the asphalt stages appear tame by comparison to the rock-lined Tarmac tests on the previous IRC round in Ukraine. But appearances can be deceptive. Despite consisting mainly of long, narrow and flat straights and 90-degree junctions through areas of open farmland, the competitive route is littered with hazards waiting to catch out the unwary driver.
Drainage ditches and telegraph pylons pepper the roads, which can become notoriously slippery due to mud and gravel being dragged onto the surface by drivers taking ‘cuts’ through corners. With changeable weather conditions and stages run at night adding to the challenge, not to mention a condensed timetable, the Ypres Rally tests crews and their teams to the limit.
The proliferation of long straights and tight corners put the onus firmly on driver commitment and accurate pacenotes. With top speeds of up to 180kph being recorded, drivers have to judge their braking points to perfection to maximise the amount of speed they carry into and out of corners, meaning it’s not just the competitor with the most powerful engine and strongest brakes that wins.
While drivers such as Luca Rossetti and Kris Meeke won on their Ypres Rally debuts 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. Belgian hero Freddy Loix is testament to that theory with a record six wins to his name.
But Ypres – or Ieper to Flemish speakers – is more than just a rally. The town, which was painstakingly rebuilt after it suffered heavy damage and loss of life during World War I, becomes the event’s epicentre for the duration of the rally with the central service park, the Ieper Rally Center, dominating the famous Grote Markt and filling the surrounding streets. With thousands of spectators flocking to the town to watch the numerous service halts and start and finish ceremonies, the atmosphere is electric, particularly when darkness falls.
The rally itself is condensed into a 30-hour period with the action getting underway late on Friday afternoon and concluding on Saturday night. Friday’s itinerary features three repeated stages north and southwest of Ypres, separated by service in the town. The route includes the new Dikkebus-Westouter stage, which is a merger of the two tests. The first car is due to reach the overnight halt just before 22:30hrs.
Action resumes on Saturday morning with two stages based around the town of Poperinge to the west of Ypres. In total there are five repeated stages plus two standalone tests on day two, including the Lille-Eurometropole stage, which straddles the French border. With the final stage not getting underway until 21:56hrs, it won’t be until the early hours of Sunday morning when all crews have completed the finishing formalities.
All drivers competing in Ypres will be in contention for the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which is awarded on all rounds of the IRC to the driver whose performance best embodies the spirit of the rally legend.
With upwards of 30 pacesetting Super 2000 cars on the capacity 124-car entry, predicting a winner in Ypres will be a tough call. However, two drivers set to produce standout performances are Belgians Freddy Loix and Thierry Neuville.
Loix, who will drive a BFO Skoda Rally Team-run Fabia, is a six-time event winner and led the IRC drivers’ standings following the third round in Corsica. After skipping the previous round in Yalta, the 40-year-old will be eager to get his title bid back on track by repeating his Ypres victory of 2010. In contrast, Neuville is a virtual novice having contested the event just twice in a Super 2000 car. He was third last season but has developed into a formidable force in 2011, claiming a podium finish in the Canary Islands and winning in Corsica in his Team Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 207.
With the Ypres Rally not on IRC title leader Juho Hanninen’s schedule, his Skoda Motorsport team-mate Jan Kopecky is well-placed to move to the top of the standings if he can secure a strong finish in Belgium. The Czech is three points shy of the championship lead and his highly adept on sealed-surface stages.
Bryan Bouffier won Rallye Monte-Carlo in January and took second last time out in Ukraine following an impressive performance at the wheel of a Peugeot France 207. The Frenchman lacks Ypres knowledge having contested the event just once in the past but is set to be a contender.
Andreas Mikkelsen has proved quick for Skoda UK Motorsport so far this term but hasn’t always enjoyed the best of fortune. He should have finished on the podium on at least two occasions but a spate of punctures and a handful of driving errors have held him back. The Norwegian will turn 22 in the build up to the rally, which could signal a coming of age moment for the rising star.
Peugeot UK’s Guy Wilks missed out on an appearance in Ypres last season while he recovered from injuries sustained in a high-speed crash on Rally d’Italia-Sardegna. Absent from the podium since Rallye Monte-Carlo, the Briton will be determined not to let his lack of recent Ypres running prevent a push for a top-three finish.
Bruno Magalhaes is back on IRC duty after his Peugeot Sport Portugal team elected not to make the 3600-kilometre trip from its base near Lisbon to Yalta for round four. The 30-year-old thrives on events where he has previous experience and will hope to make the most of the knowledge gained when he tackled the event for the first time last season.
PG Andersson and Giandomenico Basso will be banking on the continued improvements being made to their factory PROTON Satria Neos in order to score points in Ypres after showing further promise in Yalta where Basso, a winner in Ypres back in 2006, ran in the top five.
Luca Rossetti is also a former Ypres winner, taking victory on his debut in 2007 in a Peugeot. Now armed with an Abarth Grande Punto, the Italian is a big fan of the rally. And with four IRC wins to his name, Rossetti is a threat for top honours.
Finn Toni Gardemeister will be expected to extend his 100 per cent point-scoring run to five events in his TGS Worldwide Skoda. Peugeot privateer Pierre Campana is back in the IRC after his impressive run to fourth place on the Tour de Corse, while Karl Kruuda makes his second IRC start at the wheel of his Me3 Rally Team Fabia.
Experienced Polish driver Michal Solowow and Frenchman Julien Maurin head the M-Sport Ford attack in their Fiesta S2000s, while Jasper van den Heuvel will be an unknown quantity in his R4-specification Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer, as will rapid Dutch youngster Hans Weijs, who will drive a Fabia. British Rally Championship frontrunners Robert Barrable and Jonathan Greer will face a steep learning curve in their Skodas as they look to build their experience for the future.
IRC Production Cup
The IRC Production Cup, which is being run for the first time this season, has attracted 23 entrants with Belgians Alexandre Romain and Jonas Langenakens the highest seeds in their Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancers. However, Florian Gonon – a two-time IRC Production Cup winner this season – will be tough to beat in his Subaru Impreza.
IRC 2WD Cup
Sixty-one crews will be in contention for IRC 2WD Cup drivers’ championship points in Ypres with Kevin Abbring, last season’s class winner, set to pose the biggest threat. Other notable names include Ghislain De Mevius, the son of Belgian rallying legend Gregoire, in a Kronos Racing-run Peugeot 207 RC. Promising young Belgian Matthias Boon will drive a Skoda Fabia R2, while Martin Kangur will start his third IRC event of 2011 in his Honda Civic Type R. Defending IRC 2WD Cup champion Harry Hunt will return to the series after missing the last round in Ukraine.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway), Skoda Fabia S2000: “The Ypres Rally will be very tough, especially against the local drivers, but we still have the possibility to do very well ourselves. The weather forecast is for mixed conditions, so I hope it rains. There is always a lot of mud pushed out by cars cutting the corners, and if it’s wet it will be very slippery, which I prefer.”
Thierry Neuville (Belgium), Peugeot 207 S2000: “Winning my home rally would be incredible, not just for me but for my team, Peugeot Belgium and all the suppliers who help us. They can have a big party if it happens but it won’t be easy, especially against Freddy Loix. He did not do the last rally so will be very motivated to win. It will be a big battle.”
Luca Rossetti (Italy), Abarth Grande Punto S2000: “It’s a tough race, but it also was one of the most important and unforgettable of my career, the victory of 2007 will always be in my heart. The location of this rally is beautiful, many fans follow the race and I will be at the start to honour a rally that is one of the most important in the world.”
PIERRE CAMPANA WILL NOT TAKE PART IN YPRES RALLY
Posted: June 20, 2011 5:31 PM
Contrary to the recently announced line-up, Frenchman Pierre Campana will not be competing in next week’s Geko Ypres Rally, round five of this season’s IRC championship.
It had been hoped that Pierre would secure sufficient funding to participate in the Ypres event with an S2000 run by the Munaretto squad, following Pierre’s sensational performance at the Tour de Corse in May, in which he finished an excellent fourth.
Unfortunately, with just a few weeks between the two events, the required financing to take part in the event has not transpired.
Pierre is still hoping that his success around Corsica just one month ago will provide a welcome boost to his promising rally career, having emerged from Tour de Corse as a real star in the making.
Pierre Campana Q+A
How disappointed are you not to be able to compete at Ypres?
“I am devastated that we have not been able to find a solution to allow me to compete at Ypres. I really enjoyed my first participation in last year’s event and I was really looking forward to it again this year. We have had many positive conversations with companies, but so far we have not been able to secure the funding required. I gave everything at Tour de Corse and drove to my absolute best, so to be back in this situation is very frustrating and agonising for me. I know my ability and potential, which I think people saw during Tour de Corse.”
What is the plan now?
“Obviously, we are still in talks with people who might be able to get my season back on track. The objective is to get on an IRC event and I hope we can have some positive news soon. I would relish the opportunity to demonstrate my potential on a range of terrains and to deliver results for those who support me. Everything I have done this year has resulted in positive results, so I have to remain patient and hopeful. I am ready to go rallying as soon as we have things in place.”
West Limerick 102fm will be reporting again from Ypres Rally
Posted: June 7, 2011 11:45 AM
Trevor Payne Motorsport Correspondent for West Limerick 102fm will be reporting again for Ypres Rally 2011.
Trevor will be reporting for West Limerick 102fm again this year for round 5 of the 2011 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) so tune in for rally up-dates during the event on the 23-25 of June.
The Geko Ypres Rally: three more years in the IRC
Posted: June 1, 2011 3:24 PM
(Press Release from November 2010)
The Geko Ypres Rally and Eurosport Events, the promoter of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, are pleased to announce that they have entered into a new agreement to ensure that the Geko Ypres Rally will be part of the IRC for at least three more years (2011-2013).
The Geko Ypres Rally has been a key member of the IRC family since the pilot series in 2006 and following the launch of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for 2007. The asphalt event, which is well known for its challenging roads and incredible atmosphere can each year count on a star-studded entry and a huge number of spectators.
The extension of the long-term partnership offers several mutual benefits and will ensure that both the Geko Ypres Rally and the IRC will continue their successful collaboration and development.
Alain Penasse, Rally Manager, Geko Ypres Rally said: "Since 2006 we witnessed closely the growing success of the IRC series as our rally was part of the original pilot series. We have put in place a highly successful cooperation in the meantime. The last edition of the rally in June of this year achieved extensive TV coverage all over the world and we have noticed an extremely large amount of rally fans on our stages. We are convinced that we will bring another dimension in 2011."
IRC General Manager Marcello Lotti said: "The Geko Ypres Rally has been a key partner in the history of the IRC and we are delighted to extend our close relationship for another three years. Like the IRC, the Ypres Rally is innovative and exciting and aims to bring rallying closer to the public. Its location in Belgium means it's accessible to fans and teams from all across Europe while the unique atmosphere generated by the service park being in the town's main square creates a spectacular show in keeping with the spirit of the IRC. Thanks to the enthusiasm and professionalism of the organisers, the Ypres Rally represents one of the highlights of the IRC season."
The 2011 Geko Ypres Rally will count as round five of next season's 12-event Intercontinental Rally Challenge and will take place from 23-25 June.
One month to go to the Geko Ypres Rally
Posted: May 27, 2011 2:53 PM
We now have exactly one month to go to the Geko Ypres Rally 2011. On 24 and 25 June, and even a few days earlier, the City of Cats and its surrounding villages will again live to the rhythm of the roaring engines of the cars that participate in the European and Belgian Rally Championship, and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
For teams and drivers, time has come to get their act together for the great Belgian meeting. The organisers have done everything to accommodate for the top teams and the fans who should come in even larger numbers than in the previous years.
Maximum 100 cars.
The drivers can now really start the ball rolling as the entry list is now open. Entry fees will remain unchanged from the 2009 and 2010 editions and participants to the promotion cups will even get a discount. The entry forms are, as usual, available on the website www.ypresrally.com, under the heading "Competitors".
The entry list will close on the 10th of June at 24h00, i.e. two days earlier than usual. We would not recommend to wait until this 'fatal date' as only 100 entries will be allowed this year !
Hotel reservations can also be made via the website. We would recommend that all teams put their requirements forward as early as possible if they want to stay as close as possible to the service area.
Meanwhile the Regulations, which contains all the necessary information about the race for fans and competitors, has been made available on the rally website, where you will find it under the heading "Competitors/Documents". The start of the race will be on the Ypres market place at 16h15 on Friday 24/6. The competitors will take on 2 legs of 3 stages. After a good night's sleep, the drivers will set off again at 10h30 on Saturday morning for 12 stages which will be spread over two legs. The drivers will drive five stages twice during the day plus two stages in France which will only be driven once: a show stage, in the town of Wasquehal and a special stage near Linselles called Lille-Métropole, . The first car should reach the finish by 22h38 on Saturday night, 25/6, at which time we will expect a large crowd to gather at the foot of the podium to celebrate the winners of this 47th Geko Ypres Rally.
"Bringing this time-table together was not an easy feat," explains Alain Penasse, the rally manager. "Key reason was that after the very positive and enthousiastic reactions we received from the teams, we wanted to get the competitors of the Ypres Historic Rally powered by ConXioN back on the podium on the Ypres market place and be finished before 23h."
Ypres Rally organizers are pleased to announce that Geko Woonwereld has extended its title sponsorship of the rally until 2014. Geko became the name sponsor of the rally two years ago, and both parties are eager to continue their partnership for at least three more rounds of the IRC classic
Geko Woonwereld has been supporting sports in general and rallying in particular for many years. The company has supported record Belgian champion Patrick Snijers in the past and is now sponsoring Melissa Debackere, the leading lady of Belgian rallying, in her title bid. In 2009 Geko became title sponsor of the Geko Ypres Rally and both Wim Soenens from Geko as well as rally organizers are delighted to continue their strong partnership.
Wim Soenens, Geko Woonwereld: "We teamed with the Ypres Rally two years ago as we believe the passion and teamplay of rallying perfectly align with what we as a company stand for. Linking with the rally has brought us name recognition and commercial returns and that is one of the main reasons why we want to continue our sponsorship of the Geko Ypres Rally."
Rally organizer Alain Penasse: "I am very happy to see that one of our loyal sponsors is renewing his commitment. This strengthens us in our beliefs that rallying offers a valuable commercial platform for sponsors, and at the same time confirms that the dedication of my team is greatly respected by a sponsor like Geko."
The Geko Ypres Rally takes place from 23 until 25 June and will feature all the stars of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC).
Martin Knudsen is aiming to become the first Danish driver to compete for a manufacturer-supported team in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The 30-year-old former Danish champion is in talks with PROTON Motorsports about driving a third Satria Neo Super 2000 on the Geko Ypres Rally, which is due to run from 23-25 June.
Knudsen went on a fact-finding mission to Rally Islas Canarias El Corte Ingles earlier this month where he met PROTON Motorsports team principal Chris Mellors with a view of tackling a programme of IRC events with the Malaysian make.
“It’s a big jump but I want to gain more experience by competing in the IRC and it has always been a dream to drive a Super 2000 car,” said Knudsen, who hails from Kolding in Denmark. “We have some of the money needed but by having these discussions we now have a target to aim for. PROTON is a small team where I know I can fit in and the Ypres Rally is probably the closest to the kind of rallies we have in Denmark with long straights and tight junctions.”
Knudsen first emerged as a star of the future when he won the Danish championship Talent of the Year accolade in 2002. He became Danish Super 1600 champion in 2004 and has tackled a selection of rallies in Belgium, France and Germany in recent years in a Honda Civic Type R R3.