Loix earns another vic­tory on the Bel­gian clas­sic

Motor Sport News - - Erc: Ypres Rally - Pho­tos: FIA ERC, Writ­tle Pho­to­graphic

Freddy Loix recorded his 11th win on the Ypres Rally af­ter me­chan­i­cal prob­lems halted chal­lenges from French aces Bryan Bouffier and Stephane Lefebvre on the Euro­pean Rally Cham­pi­onship event.

Driv­ing a Citroen DS3 R5, Bouffier led through­out the open­ing seven stages of Fri­day evening. But Loix was only 6.9 sec­onds be­hind overnight in his Skoda Fabia R5 and he was able to snatch the lead on Satur­day’s first stage.

Things re­mained close be­tween the pair un­til Bouffier re­tired on a road sec­tion prior to SS12 af­ter suf­fer­ing a gear se­lec­tion prob­lem dur­ing the pre­vi­ous test.

Loix couldn’t rest easy how­ever, be­cause Lefebvre was clos­ing in on him in another Citroen – this one hav­ing re­quired an en­gine change on the eve of the rally, keep­ing its driver out of the qual­i­fy­ing stage and con­sign­ing him to 24th on the start list.

De­lays over the first leg left Lefebvre – who re­turns to the Ph-sport Citroen WRC ef­fort in Poland this week – fifth and half a minute adrift overnight, but he won the first six stages on Satur­day to move to within 5.3s of Loix. It looked as if SS14, the sec­ond run of the event’s long­est test Holle­beke, could be the scene for a change of lead only for Lefebvre to stop with a bro­ken gear­box.

That gave Loix an ad­van­tage of 45s go­ing into the fi­nal loop of three stages, and de­spite taking it easy he was able to edge it out to 56.8s as he se­cured a fourth straight suc­cess in Ypres.

Loix topped an all-bel­gian podium, with Kris Prin­cen climb­ing from fifth to sec­ond in his Peu­geot 208 T16 R5 dur­ing Satur­day and Bernd Casier taking third away from Vin­cent Ver­schueren on the penul­ti­mate stage. An im­me­di­ate 10s penalty for be­ing late into a time con­trol looked as if it could then deny the Ford Fi­esta R5 driver, but he made sure of the place by win­ning the fi­nale.

Skoda driver Ver­schueren had chal­lenged for the rally lead on the open­ing day but had a dif­fi­cult sec­ond leg, not feel­ing well and mak­ing a num­ber of mis­takes in­clud­ing a fi­nal-stage spin that rel­e­gated him to fifth be­hind charg­ing Dutch­man Her­men Kobus. Eight-time Bel­gian cham­pion Pi­eter Tsjoen was sixth, with Jaromir Tarabus the top ERC reg­u­lar in sev­enth.

Alexey Lukyanuk made his Ypres de­but with a chance of over­haul­ing points leader Ka­je­tan Ka­je­tanow­icz (who has al­ways left the event out of his ERC pro­grammes) but crashed on the first stage, break­ing his Fi­esta’s suspension. A faulty ECU on his Fi­esta stopped him again on Satur­day.

Bri­tain’s Chris In­gram ex­tended his ERC Ju­nior lead with a third sec­ond place from as many starts since join­ing Opel. He had a rally-long scrap with team-mate Mar­i­jan Griebel – driv­ing the Adam on Ypres for the third time – and re­mained within 10s of the Ger­man un­til back­ing off in the fi­nal few stages. Julius Tan­nert made it a 1-2-3 in the class for Opel, while Cal­lum Devine ran as high as fourth on his cat­e­gory de­but in another Adam be­fore slid­ing into a ditch.

With Wo­j­ciech Chuchala ab­sent af­ter four straight wins in the ERC2 cat­e­gory, Tibor Erdi Jr had half an hour in hand over his heav­ily-de­layed ri­val Gi­a­como Scat­tolon be­fore go­ing off with four stages to go, hand­ing the Ital­ian an un­likely tri­umph. Re­sults 1 Freddy Loix/jo­han Git­sels (Skoda Fabia R5) 2h22m15.1s; 2 Kris Prin­cen/ Peter Kaspers (Peu­geot 208 T16 R5) +56.8s; 3 Bernd Casier/ Pi­eter Vyncke (Ford Fi­esta R5); 4 Her­men Kobus/ Erik de Wild (Skoda Fabia R5); 5 Vin­cent Ver­schueren/ Veronique Hostens (Skoda Fabia R5); 6 Pi­eter Tsjoen/ Eddy Che­vail­lier (Ford Fi­esta R5); 7 Jaromir Tarabus/ Daniel Trunkat (Skoda Fabia R5); 8 Claudie Tanghe/ Filip Cu­ve­lier (Ford Fi­esta R5); 9 Kevin De­maer­schalk/ Bram Eel­bode (Citroën DS3 R5); 10 An­tonin Tlus­tak/ Ladislav Kucera (Skoda Fabia R5).

Class win­ners ERC2: Gi­a­como Scat­tolon/ Paolo Zanini (Mit­subishi Lancer E10); ERC3: Mar­i­jan Griebel/ Ste­fan Kopczyk (Opel Adam R2); ERC Ju­nior: Griebel/ Kopczyk.

Loix/git­sels avoided at­tri­tion to win Another Bel­gian vic­tory for the Skoda R5 crew

Lukyanuk crashed out

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