Belgium Ypres Rally 18-20 June 2009 IRC Round: 5

The Intercontinental Rally Challenge returns to mainland Europe for
round five of this year’s series, the Belgium Ypres Rally from June 18-20.
The asphalt surface and the tricky conditions of Belgium make for a
technically challenging event which is likely to be played out in
unpredictable weather, when scorching sunshine can turn to heavy rain in the
blink of an eye.image
The stages on the Belgium Ypres Rally tend to be straight and
narrow farm tracks, with several obstacles to catch out the
unwary. The long straights tend to be followed by sharp 90-
degree corners, making it extremely difficult to judge the
correct braking points. There is also often a lot of loose gravel
on the corners, meaning that the cars struggle to find traction.
These are far from the only hazards crews will have to cope
with: the rapid stages are frequently lined with deep drainage
ditches – often filled with water – and there are trees, walls and
telegraph poles close to the side of the road.
Participation of the seven IRC-registered manufacturers
Belgium is one of the most enthusiastic and proactive motor sport nations on earth so the event is
sure to bring out enormous crowds throughout the event, many of whom will be cheering for local hero
Freddy Loix and his new co-driver Frederic Miclotte. The Belgian duo currently lies second in the IRC
standings, just two points off the lead. A full capacity entry is expected to start this year’s event, with
the IRC front-runners being joined by a host of local and regional talent.
For the first time this year, all seven IRC-registered manufacturers are expected to take the start,
raising the profile of this well-known rally even higher. More than 20 Super 2000 cars will begin the
event this year: another significant record for the IRC.image
The Belgium Ypres Rally is one of the most historic and important events in
Europe. The event is based in the historic town of Ypres, rebuilt brick-for-brick
to its medieval splendour after its destruction in World War I. The magnificent
town square, with the town hall and museum dominating the landscape, acts
as the central service area for the rally and contains the start-finish ramp. This
year will mark the 45th running of the Belgium Ypres Rally, which has been
contested in the past by some of the greatest stars of the sport.
Peugeot UK enters the current championship leader Kris Meeke, the young
British star who has taken back-to-back victories on gravel in Brazil and the
Azores to stand two points clear of Loix in the standings. Defending
champion, Frenchman Nicolas Vouilloz, lies third in the second Kronosprepared
Benelux Peugeot entry, just one point behind his teammate Loix: the
winner in Ypres last year.
A total of eight Peugeot 207 S2000s head the entry, joined by a Skoda
Fabia S2000 for another great hero of Belgian rallying, Francois Duval,
and a Volkswagen Polo S2000 for legendary Belgian rally ace, 51-yearold
Patrick Snijers. Abarth has also been strong in Belgium in the past,
and the factory Italian team is hoping for more success this year with
former European Champion Giandomenico Basso and Belgian asphalt
ace Bernd Casier, who has been brought in to replace Anton Alen for this
event. Skoda’s factory team will field Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky as
Proton will be represented on the IRC for the first time, with an entry for
rising British star Guy Wilks, while another star of the future – Thierry
Neuville – has won the BFGoodrich Drivers’ Team entry for Ypres. Pieter
Tsjoen has also been recently confirmed for his home event in a Peugeot
207 S2000.
They are joined by a host of entrants for the 2WD class in both Super 1600 and Group R machines,
and as ever huge numbers of Group N ’showroom‘ specification Mitsubishi Lancers, such as the car
driven by Austria’s Franz Wittmann, which will doubtless bring further four-wheel drive spectacle to the
Eurosport will broadcast four hours of live action from the stages
To mark the importance of the Belgium Ypres Rally, and to ensure that everyone in the area gets the
most from the event, stage organisers Superstage have developed a new signposting system which
will allow fans and casual visitors alike the chance to easily find their way to some of the most
spectacular action.
At Ypres, the fans come first. Not only that, but Eurosport will broadcast four hours of live action from
the stages, enabling television viewers all over the world to fully experience the unique atmosphere of
the Belgium Ypres Rally.

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