JACK BENYON

“Neuville helps val­i­date Ypres BRC move”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Ypres has got to be the event fea­tured most in MN that isn’t part of the World cham­pi­onship or in the British one. It has a mys­tique about it, an aura. And it’s al­ways been pop­u­lar with British crews. The event was once a sta­ple of the likes of Tony Pond, Jimmy Mcrae and Mark Lovell’s rally cal­en­dars and it’s easy to see why.

The stages are unique, with heavy cuts on bumpy and rapid as­phalt. It per­suaded the leg­endary ral­lies edi­tor David Wil­liams (DKW) out on many oc­ca­sions, and it’s easy to see why. On a not un­re­lated note, the at­mos­phere of the event – which of course pro­vides time for a lot of beer drink­ing – is still alive. The event had a stand at the Au­tosport In­ter­na­tional show and on Thurs­day, beer in plas­tic cups was the or­der of the day.

But the stages, at­mos­phere or drink­ing were prior knowl­edge about Ypres a long time ago, and yet on­look­ers still doubted whether the move was the cor­rect one for the BRC at the time MN broke the news of its in­clu­sion in the 2017 British Rally Cham­pi­onship.

Be­ing at the show, the in­ter­est in Ypres was phe­nom­e­nal, with or­gan­is­ers claim­ing that the ma­jor ho­tels sold out in two days after the event was an­nounced as part of the BRC. That’s quick, even for an event the size of Ypres!

The in­clu­sion of Thierry Neuville has gone some way to mak­ing the event even more at­trac­tive, es­pe­cially for the fron­trun­ners. The Bel­gian home favourite will take a Hyundai i20 R5 out for the week­end, thus giv­ing the chance for BRC hope­fuls to com­pete against some­one who – on his day – is as quick as any driver in the WRC. That’s an op­por­tu­nity too big to turn down, imag­ine the scalp of beat­ing Neuville over his home stages. In fact, most will have to imag­ine as it isn’t likely. But driv­ers need an ego, and the chance to feed that ego is al­ways at­trac­tive.

But for me, the at­mos­phere is the big­gest thing at­tract­ing the BRC crews. Ral­ly­ing in the UK has lost a lot of its so­cial na­ture, and all too of­ten neg­a­tive head­lines dom­i­nate some of our own events. Last year, the Cir­cuit of Ire­land and Isle of Man ral­lies were spec­tac­u­lar, but the events in main­land UK of­ten lacked the ‘big event’ at­mos­phere. The trip to Ypres will give crews the chance to re­live times gone by, not only in re­turn­ing to stages where Mcrae, Lovell and Pond flew, but also a re­turn to the at­mos­phere of a ma­jor rally, and the univer­sal sup­port of the lo­cal pub­lic. This is the BRC event that will thrill the most in 2017.

BRC is crav­ing at­mos­phere, which Ypres pro­vides

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