This year’s Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally has received a magnificent 80-car entry, with over half – 44 cars – coming from the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship.
There are an incredible 21 four-wheel-drive ERC1 R5/Super 2000 cars on the entry list: five Citroën DS3 R5s, five ŠKODA Fabia S2000s, four Peugeot 208 T16s, three Ford Fiesta R5s, two Fiesta RRCs, a Fiesta S2000 and, making its ERC debut in the hands of nine-time Ypres Rally winner Freddy Loix, a ŠKODA Fabia R5. The ERC Junior championship will also be hotly contested, with 16 young drivers out to prove their speed on one of the most famous and technically challenging European rallies.
This year’s Ypres Rally follows a traditional and much-loved two-day format, with competition taking place over 17 special stages (nine different) on the fast and flat asphalt roads in the Flemish province of West Flanders. The compact route sees a 50-50 liaison-stage kilometre split, while the start, finish and service area is based in Grote Markt in the heart of Ypres – one of the most atmospheric and fan-friendly service areas in the sport.
The action gets underway at 20h15 on Thursday 25 June, when all ERC-registered crews will take part in Qualifying, run over a 4,79 kilometre stage near the village of Nieuwkerke. Friday (26 June) will include the start order selection, where the fastest 15 drivers from Qualifying pick their starting position with the fastest choosing first. The rally starts at 16h15 followed by four stages covering 48,07 kilometres before a 30-minute service in Ypres at 19h25, and then another three stages covering 35,51 kilometres before a 45-minute flexi-service to end leg one after a total of 83,58 kilometres. Leg two on Saturday (27 June) starts at 10h20 and features 10 stages (totalling 169,8kms) taking 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 test of the event. There are three 30-minute visits to the service area at 13h48, 16h32 and 19h55, before the finish ceremony at Grote Markt at 22h30.
Route changes spice up Ypres for 2015
There are some interesting changes to the route of this year’s Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally, namely:
* Langemark (SS1): run as the opening stage this year and features the return of the famous roundabout section.
* Wijtschate (SS3/6): shorter version, with changes to the last part of the stage.
* Watou (SS9/14): most of the stage is new. Part was used last year, but in the opposite direction.
* Westouter-Boeschepe (SS10/15): the stage starts in Belgium and ends in France. The last 10 kilometres in France is very technical and was last used on the Ypres Rally 48 years ago. As French safety legislation is very different to the Belgian rules, spectators will only be allowed in secured public areas.
* Kemmelberg (SS11/16): second part of the stage is new. The famous Monteberg hillclimb will be run in a downhill direction.
Breen aims to extend ERC and ERC Asphalt Masters lead in Ypres
Craig Breen will have title aspirations in mind when he contests the Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally. Having won three ERC events in a row, the on-form Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 driver arrives in Belgium with a 14-point advantage over second-placed Kajetan Kajetanowicz, and Breen will have a great chance to extend that gap as Ypres was never part of Kajetanowicz’s plans for 2015. There are plenty of other drivers capable of stealing ERC points off him, as the event has received another magnificent entry. There are four Peugeot 208 T16s on the lists (in addition to Breen there is Bruno Magalhães, ERC Junior champion Stéphane Lefebvre and 2005 Ypres winner Kris Princen), five Citroën DS3 R5s (driven by Kevin Abbring, Bryan Bouffier, Cédric Cherain, Vincent Verschueren and Florent Honney) and five ŠKODA Fabia S2000s (Jaroslav Orsák, Petter Kristiansen, Antonín Tlusťák, Jaromír Tarabus and Martin McCormack). Ford hasn’t won the Ypres Rally since Patrick Snijers (Escort Cosworth) in 1994, and the Blue Oval’s hopes this year lie with Sam and Josh Moffett (Fiesta RRCs), Euan Thorburn (Fiesta S2000) and Didier Duquesne, Davy Vanneste and Bernd Casier (Fiesta R5s). But the man who will start as favourite will be Freddy Loix. He has won the event nine times, and is giving the all-new ŠKODA Fabia R5 its ERC debut.
Drivers unite as Abbring teams up with former Ypres winner Tsjoen
Kevin Abbring will have a navigator better known for his driving skills reading the pace notes in Ypres this year, when 2001 event winner and eight-time Belgian rally champion Pieter Tsjoen shares his privately-entered Citroën DS3 R5. Tsjoen is no stranger to the co-driver’s seat and navigated for Stéphane Lefebvre on the Rallye de Wallonie earlier this year. It’s entirely possible that Tsjoen could add another Ypres victory to his long list of accolades – Hyundai WRC test driver Abbring was the star of last year’s event, leading from the start and recording nine fastest stage times before mechanical problems forced his retirement on SS13. On his first Ypres Rally in a four-wheel-drive car, Abbring received the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy. Meanwhile, Lefebvre will be back with regular co-driver Stéphane Prevot in Ypres.
Baby boom gives Štajf golden opportunity to extend ERC2 lead
Vojtěch Štajf will have a great opportunity to extend his slender four-point ERC2 lead as nearest rival Dávid Botka misses the Ypres Rally – with co-driver Péter Mihalik set to become a father over the same weekend! Having successfully contested his first-ever gravel rally in the Azores, Štajf will be happy to be back on Tarmac as he pushes for maximum points in his Subaru Duck Czech National Team Impreza WRX STI. However, with one rapid Hungarian driver missing, the Czech driver will have another snapping at his heels. Tibor Érdi finished third in last year’s ERC Production Car Cup standings and makes his second ERC2 start of 2015 in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
Bergkvist leads magnificent 16-car ERC Junior field to Belgium
Series leader Emil Bergkvist heads a big 16 ERC Junior driver entry on the Kenotek by CID LINES Ypres Rally. In a pre-event test the on-form Swedish driver, who turned 21 on Wednesday, won his class and finished fourth overall on the recent Rally van Wervik, and the power of his Adam R2 will suit the fast West Flanders roads. There are a number of other Adams that will be a huge threat, namely Bergkvist’s ADAC Opel Rallye Junior team-mate Marijan Griebel, fellow German Julius Tannert, who currently leads the ADAC Opel Rallye Cup and is starting his first Ypres Rally, and hard-charging Pole Aleks Zawada. Opel scored a one-two on the previous Tarmac round in Ireland and is expected to be very strong again, although it is Peugeot that once again has the biggest representation with 11 208s on the starting list. They are led by Chris Ingram – currently second at the midway point in the Michelin-supported ERC Junior championship – who is hoping for wet conditions so he can capitalise on the car’s superb chassis. The Englishman makes his third Ypres Rally start and, having scored his first win on SATA Rallye Açores, plans to be “absolutely flat-out from the first corner” and try to lead from the front. Portugal’s Diogo Gago scored a career-best second-place finish in the Azores and makes his Ypres Rally debut full of confidence in his Peugeot Rally Academy R2, while Sport Racing Technologies team-mates Ralfs Sirmacis and Vasily Gryazin are always ones to watch in their 208s. Ypres’ smooth and fast roads are a lot different to the bumpy Irish lanes Jon Armstrong is used to, but he’ll be keen to put his Tarmac experience to good use. Two recent asphalt rounds of the Polish rally championship may prove good preparation for Łukasz Pieniążek, while Napoca Rally Academy’s Florin Tincescu has plenty of Romanian asphalt experience too and Belgium’s Gino Bux will be hoping to end his run of bad luck in his Peugeot Belgium-Luxembourg 208. Hungarian teenager Kristóf Klausz returns in his 208 as does the flamboyant Swede, Mattias Adielsson. ERC Junior newcomers Joachim Wageman and Amaury Molle add local spice in their 208 and Ford Fiesta R2.
Ogryzek returns to improve ERC3 position
Sławomir Ogryzek won the ERC3 class by over four minutes in Austria, taking his Rallytechnology-run Peugeot 208 R2 to an incredible 11th overall on the opening round – and now the Polish driver returns, aiming to improve on his current fifth position in the standings. The battle for ERC3 honours outside the ERC Junior category in Belgium will be a good one, as Rok Turk also returns. He’ll be driving a 208 R2 but recently scored a sensational victory on the FUCHS Saturnus Rally Velenje, a round of his home Slovenian national championship, on his first event in a Peugeot 206 T16. Hungary’s Szabolcs Várkonyi makes it three 208s in this class, while defending ERC Ladies’ Trophy champion Ekaterina Stratieva brings her Citroën C2 R2 from Bulgaria having enjoyed a good run on the recent Danube Delta Rally – in which she set the best class time and the second best two-wheel-drive time overall on the event’s only Tarmac stage. The local challenge comes from ERC newcomer Polle Geusens, driving a Fiesta R2.
Superstar quartet turn out for FIA R-GT Cup
A quartet of motorsport superstars will contest the FIA R-GT Cup category on the Ypres Rally including two former event winners – Patrick Snijers, who won the rally four years in a row (1991-94), and Marc Duez, who won in 1982. They’ll be up against rally legend François Delecour and one of motorsport’s most versatile drivers, Romain Dumas, who was part of the Le Mans 24 Hours-winning Porsche team. All four will drive Porsches – three aboard a 911 GTS and Snijers in a 997 GTS.
ERC privateer prize fund reaches 110,000 Euros – and counting
ERC promoter Eurosport Events has already given away 110,000 Euros in its lucrative privateer prize fund this year, and another 20,000 Euros will be up for grabs in Ypres. A total of 20,000 Euros was awarded at the opening Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy in Austria, at Rally Liepāja in Latvia and at the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally, while 50,000 Euros was awarded to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the SATA Rallye Açores. The top seven privateer drivers will be presented with cheques at the finish in Belgium, ensuring a drop of the famous local beer will be on them! To be eligible for ERC privateer prize money drivers must register for the ERC, receive no manufacturer support*, use tyres from one of the three ERC partner companies (Michelin, Pirelli and Yokohama) and not compete in a Regional Rally Car. *Eurosport Events will determine privateer status in consultation with the manufacturer in question.
What is Kenotek by CID Lines?
Kenotek by CID LINES is the new title sponsor of the Ypres Rally, with a three-year agreement starting this year. But what is it? Under the brand name Kenotek, CID LINES developed a state-of-the-art range of innovative products for the maintenance and care of vehicles. Kenotek is the market leader in Belgium with a range focused on all companies that are in one way or another involved in Vehicle Care, car washes, truck washes and garages through to workshops for vehicles and machinery.
Q&A: Freddy Loix
Freddy Loix has won the Ypres Rally nine times. This year, ‘Fast Freddy’ is attempting to make it win number 10, while giving the ŠKODA Fabia R5 its FIA European Rally Championship debut.
How confident are you of making it win number 10 in Ypres against such tough competition?
“I'm not somebody that will say that I will win the Ypres Rally because it's a long rally and there are a lot of very good pilots at the start. But of course, I will not deny that my target is to win.”
How competitive do you think the new ŠKODA Fabia R5 will be on the fast and technical Ypres stages?
“I think the ŠKODA Fabia R5 will be very competitive on the Ypres stages, but it's up to me to adapt myself to the new car – which I will certainly have to do well when I drive at over 170kph.”
It’s a new car, but how well do you know the Fabia R5?
“I have already done thousands of kilometres with the car, so I think I know it pretty well!”
Having helped to develop the Fabia R5, what other ERC events do you think the car would do well on?
“For sure the fast rallies, Barum and that sort of rally, will suit the Fabia R5 very well, but I'm pretty sure that the car will be good and competitive on all ERC events.”
Will the Fabia R5 be run by ŠKODA Motorsport or another team – as in 2014, when Bernard Munster ran your winning Fabia S2000?
“My winning team BMA will run my car in Ypres again this year.”
What makes Ypres so special and what makes you come back each year?
“Ypres is the most important rally in Belgium, the best organised and it is also a round of the Belgian rally championship. And of course, there is a good after-party!”
What advice can you give to the ERC Junior drivers, especially the ones contesting Ypres for the first time?
“My advice for the ERC Junior drivers would be to look very closely where, and how, to cut the corners.”
FIVE KENOTEK BY CID LINES YPRES RALLY FACTS
* History was made on last year’s Ypres Rally when ERC Junior drivers Andrea Crugnola and Stéphane Lefebvre finished the event tied on time after a final-stage showdown. Lefebvre took the win due to the fact he was fastest in class on the opening stage.
* Belgian legend Freddy Loix, meanwhile, remains the man to beat outright on the Ypres Rally. The 44-year-old achieved a record ninth overall victory on last year’s event in a ŠKODA Fabia S2000 shared with Johan Gitsels.
* Founded in 1965 by Frans Thévelin, the Ypres Rally has hosted other famous winners including Walter Röhrl (1976, Opel Kadett), Henri Toivonen (1984, Porsche 911), Jimmy McRae (1987, Ford Sierra RS Cosworth) and current Citroën WRC driver Kris Meeke (2009, Peugeot 207 S2000).
* Loix started his winning streak in 1996 aboard a Toyota Celica GT-Four and notched up four victories in a row, but didn’t win again until 2008 in another Peugeot 207.
* Besides the rally, last year Ypres had the honour of hosting the start of stage five in the 101st Tour de France, won by Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali.
ON THIS EVENT IN 2014…
On the event’s 50th anniversary, local hero Freddy Loix won the Ypres Rally for the ninth time. Co-driven by Johan Gitsels, he took his ŠKODA Fabia S2000 to a 1m09.9s victory over Cédric Cherain (Ford Fiesta R5), who in turn celebrated his first ERC podium finish. It was far from the start-to-finish win Loix enjoyed in 2013. Starting Saturday’s final leg, he trailed Kevin Abbring by 24.8 seconds but moved in front when the Dutchman retired his Peugeot 208T16 with mechanical problems. Sepp Wiegand finished as best Ypres rookie in third for ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland, with Hermen Kobus (Ford Fiesta S2000) fourth and triple ERC champion Luca Rossetti (ŠKODA Fabia S2000) fifth, having fought back from an early visit to a ditch. Stéphane Lefebvre won ERC Junior, but only after a tie-break separated him from fellow Peugeot 208 R2 driver Andrea Crugnola. Despite losing time with a puncture, Andy Lefevere (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X) won the ERC Production Car Cup for a second year running, coming home seventh overall. Crashes put some big-name drivers out, including Esapekka Lappi (ŠKODA Fabia S2000), Xevi Pons (Fiesta R5), Pieter Tsjoen (Peugeot 208 T16) and Antonín Tlusťák (Fabia S2000), while Craig Breen suffered a myriad of technical issues in his 208 T16.
EVENT ESSENTIALS (all timings local)
Starts: 16h15, Friday 26 June, podium, Grote Markt, Ypres
Finishes: 22h30, Saturday 27 June, podium, Grote Markt, Ypres
Headquarters: Neermarkt, 8900 Ypres, Belgium
Service park: Grote Markt, Ypres
ERC appearances (since the restructuring in 2004): 11
Stage distance: 253.38 kilometres (83.58 kilometres leg one, 169.80 kilometres leg two)
Liaison: 252.20 kilometres
Total: 505.58 kilometres
MEDIA EVENTS AND INFORMATION (all timings local)
Media accreditation/media centre: Novotel Ieper Centrum, Sint Jacobsstraat 15, B-8900 Ypres
Opening times: 14h00-18h00, Wednesday 24 June; 10h00-12h00/14h00-20h00, Thursday 25 June; 08h00-01h00, Friday 26 June; 08h00-02h00, Saturday 27 June
Thursday 25 June
Free Practice (for priority drivers): 18h00-20h00, Nieuwkerke (4,79 kilometres), 18kms from the service park
Qualifying Stage (for priority drivers): 20h05-21h15, Nieuwkerke (4,79 kilometres)
Shakedown (for non-priority drivers): 21h30-23h00, Nieuwkerke (4,79 kilometres)
Friday 26 June
Start order selection: 13h00, podium, Grote Markt, Ypres
Pre-rally press conference: 14h30, Media Centre, Novotel, Ypres
Saturday 27 June
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, +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 Fiaerc.com or through the ERC app
Results, standings, live timing and text commentary: Fiaerc.com
Rights-free images: Register at the media lounge section of Fiaerc.com
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