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ERC Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally Day Report: Breen leads flat-out ERC fight in Ypres after opening leg

FIA European Rally Championship leader Craig Breen tops the leaderboard of the Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally after a brilliant performance on leg one today. Co-driven by Scott Martin, Breen was delighted to be able to drive with full commitment and confidence on fast Tarmac stages, reaching the overnight halt with a slender 4.6 second lead in his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16.

Bryan Bouffier spun his Citroën DS3 R5 on the opening stage and flirted with a ditched on SS2. He found his rhythm after that and, despite a slow puncture, set four fastest stage times on the opening day’s seven stages to reach the overnight halt in second place.

ERC Junior champion Stéphane Lefebvre might only live 40 kilometres away from Ypres, but he has only done the event once before, and that was last year in a Peugeot 208 R2. His maiden Ypres Rally appearance in a four-wheel drive car has been stunning, as he lies third overnight in his Peugeot 208 T16, despite losing the front bumper after a small mistake on SS5.

Kris Princen spun on the Qualifying Stage and had to start 22nd on the road today. Despite this, he is a strong fourth overnight in his Peugeot 208 T16 – enjoying a great run 20 years after making his Ypres Rally debut and 10 years after winning the event. Freddy Loix is fifth and experimenting with set-ups in his new ŠKODA Fabia R5. He lost time with a front right puncture SS4 and hasn’t yet set a fastest stage time, so has a real fight on his hands if he wants to make it 10 Ypres Rally wins this weekend.

Bernd Casier is the top Ford Fiesta R5 runner in sixth, just ahead of Vincent Verschueren, who ran first on the road today in his Citroën DS3 R5. Marty McCormack had a dramatic start, with a sixth gear moment on SS1 and two offs on SS2, the second of which damaged the front of his ŠKODA Fabia S2000. He is an excellent eighth, just ahead of Romain Dumas in the leading FIA R-GT Cup Porsche 911 GTS. Bruno Magalhães completes the top 10 overnight in his 208 T16, on his first Tarmac rally for eight months.

Kevin Abbring was recovering from food poisoning, which had put him in hospital for half a day last week. He started too aggressively, putting his privately-entered Citroën DS3 R5 perilously close to a ditch on the opening stage and damaging a wheel. He was driving brilliantly and led until he lost 20 seconds with a front right puncture on SS4, but rolled three times on SS6 when attempting to regain lost time.

Irish brothers Sam and Josh Moffett have had a dramatic start in their Ford Fiesta RRCs. Sam had a massive spin through a field on SS2, and felt very lucky to have not destroyed his car, let alone still be in the rally. He then lost time on the second loop, taking wet tyres as the rain held off. Josh’s car suffered a misfire, in every gear except sixth, while his afternoon loop was delayed with a rear puncture.

The Moffetts weren’t the only ones to hit early problems in Belgium. Didier Duquesne overshoot a junction on SS1, Davy Vanneste lost two minutes after a turbo pipe came off his similar Fiesta R5 on SS2 and Jaroslav Orsák spun his ŠKODA Fabia S2000 on SS5. Cédric Cherain finished second in Ypres last year, but his hopes of a repeat podium finish were dashed when his Citroën DS3 R5 stopped on SS1.

Six out of seven stage wins gives Érdi the ERC2 lead
Tibor Érdi set six out of seven fastest stage times in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X to lead ERC2 by 20.5 seconds overnight. Experience of the Ypres stages has helped him take command of the category, although series leader Vojtěch Štajf was delayed on the first loop, when his Subaru Duck Czech National Team Impreza WRX STI used more fuel than expected and began to suffer fuel surge problems.

Opel lead the way in ERC Juniors in Ypres
Three Opel Adam R2s fill the top three positions after leg one of the Ypres Rally – although four different drivers have set a fastest stage time, two of which are in Peugeot 208s. After another fantastic battle, Marijan Griebel leads his ADAC Opel Rallye Junior team-mate Emil Bergkvist by just 5.5 seconds, while early leader Aleks Zawada is third, after picking up a front right puncture at the end of SS3. Chris Ingram tested in the wet on Monday, and discovered his set-up is so soft for the dry roads, that the rear wheels of his Peugeot UK-supported 208 are leaving the ground under braking. Despite this, he set fastest time on SS2 – although he’s already 28.8s behind the leader. On his Ypres Rally debut, Portugal’s Diogo Gago is a brilliant fifth in his Peugeot Rally Academy R2, ahead of Vasily Gryazin in his Sport Racing Technologies 208. Julius Tannert hit something on SS1, making the car nervous to drive, but he enjoyed a more confident run in the afternoon. He is seventh, ahead of Gino Bux, who spun his 208 on SS5. Ralfs Sirmacis collected a puncture on the Qualifying Stage, meaning that his 12 Michelin tyre allocation had drop to 11 even before the start of SS1, meaning a cautious opening leg. Florin Tincescu spun his 208 on SS1 and had to reverse and turn around, and finished the day with transmission problems, while Joachim Wageman spun and lost 90s on SS1, but recovered to set fastest time on SS4. Łukasz Pieniążek put his 208 into a ditch on SS3, damaging the radiator and retiring. Mattias Adielsson, Jon Armstrong and Kristóf Klausz were non-starters.

Disaster for Ogryzek in Ypres
Sławomir Ogryzek’s ERC3 title hopes went up in smoke today, when his Rallytechnology-run Peugeot 208 R2 was destroyed by fire after crashing off the road on SS3. Both he and new co-driver Przemysław Mazur were uninjured. Szabolcs Várkonyi was running behind Ogryzek and had to stop, but he’s enjoying a good run in his 208 and is top non-ERC Junior ERC3 driver. Defending ERC Ladies’ Trophy champion Ekaterina Stratieva stopped with her Citroën C2 R2’s bonnet up on SS3, while Polle Geusens arrived at the end of SS4 with his Fiesta R2 stuck in gear, after the gear leaver snapped.

​Leg two on Saturday (27 June) starts at 10h20 and sees 10 stages (totalling 169,8kms) take place over a gruelling 10 hours of non-stop action – including two runs over Hollebeke (SS12 and 17) which, at 23,23 kilometres, is the longest of the event. The Westouter-Boeschepe (SS10/15) stage starts in Belgium and ends in France, and the last 10 kilometres is very technical and was last used on the Ypres Rally 48 years ago. There are three 30m visits to the service area at 13h48, 16h32 and 19h55, before the finish ceremony at Grote Markt at 22h30.

MEDIA EVENTS AND INFORMATION (all timings local for Saturday 27 June)

Finish: 22h30, Saturday 27 June, podium, Grote Markt, Ypres

Headquarters: Neermarkt, 8900 Ypres, Belgium

Service park: Grote Markt, Ypres

Media centre: Novotel Ieper Centrum, Sint Jacobsstraat 15, B-8900 Ypres

Opening times: 08h00-02h00

Post-event press conference: 23h15, Media Centre, Novotel, Ypres. Top three drivers and co-drivers and leading ERC Junior crew in attendance

Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy presentation: Immediately following the post-event press conference, Media Centre

Event media contact: Hugo Van Opstal,, +32 477376868

Television coverage: A preview show, daily highlights and the post-event Inside ERC magazine programme will be broadcast on Eurosport

ERC Rally Radio: Live throughout the event at or through the ERC app

Results, standings, live timing and text commentary:

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Craig Breen_Ypres Rally day one.jpg
Craig Breen_Ypres Rally day one

Freddy Loix_Ypres Rally day one.jpg
Freddy Loix_Ypres Rally day one

Kevin Abbring_Ypres Rally day one.jpg
Kevin Abbring_Ypres Rally day one

Marijan Griebel_Ypres Rally day one.jpg
Marijan Griebel_Ypres Rally day one

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Antonios Argyropoulos

Drivers and teams: 
​Jean-Baptiste Ley