Top Belgian drivers Bernd Casier and Pieter Tsjoen are planning a swap drive with a difference when the FIA European Rally Championship resumes on the Geko Ypres Rally in their homeland later this month.
With both drivers lacking a full budget to take part in their own right, an audacious plan has been hatched to share a ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 on the asphalt classic with each taking it in turns to drive and co-drive.
“Rallying is in my blood but I’ve been struggling to find the budget and I’ve not driven this year and have really missed it,” Tsjoen explained. “I saw Bernd at a party recently and he told me he had the same problem so, after some drinks, I said why don’t we stop being competitors and become partners. It might sound crazy but I’d sooner do this than not drive at all.”
Tsjoen, who won in Ypres in 2001, reckons his co-driving experience amounts to three rallies only and concedes that both he and Casier will be “in pain and in fear” during the event.
In terms of which driver does which stage, Tsjoen admitted that remained a sticking point. “The goal for the moment is I do the stages I like and Bernd does the stages he likes,” said Tsjoen. “However, I am 1.79 metres tall and Bernd is 1.92 metres so we’re not sure how easy it will be to the change the seat – we might have change position at each service.”
The Geko Ypres Rally forms round six of the 2013 ERC season from 27-29 June.
Serious competition ahead as heroes return for ERC Geko Ypres Rally
This month’s Geko Ypres Rally, round six of the FIA European Rally Championship, promises to be a thriller with a host of leading drivers in action. Here’s a flavour of what’s in store when the event takes place from 27-29 June.
The future of rallying right here, right now
Ace Belgian Thierry Neuville (pictured) and 2009 Ypres winner Kris Meeke will be appearing in two new-generation cars built to the ground-breaking R5 regulations, which represent rallying’s exciting future. Neuville will drive M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta R5, while Meeke will be at the wheel of Peugeot Sport’s 208 T16. Although they won’t compete for times as the cars are not officially homologated for competition use, they will run through all 20 stages prior to the course-opening zero car and will provide fans with a glimpse of the shape of things to come.
Local legend is back to chase new record
Seven-time Ypres winner and local legend Freddy Loix will be flying the flag for ŠKODA Motorsport on the asphalt classic and will face strong opposition from a number of drivers including Bryan Bouffier, the winner of the last ERC round in Corsica, Peugeot Rally Academy’s multiple ERC podium finisher Craig Breen, French rallying hero François Delecour, plus former Production Car world champion Hayden Paddon, who will be making his ERC debut in a Ford Fiesta S2000. More than 100 crews will contest the event.
ERC Production Car Cup aces set for close fight
It’s not just the battle for overall honours that will write the headlines: the chase for success in the ERC Production Car Cup will be equally intense with several leading lights in the hunt for glory. They include Subaru’s title leader Andreas Aigner, Renault duo Germain Bonnefis and Robert Consani, Mitsubishi drivers Jaroslav Orsák and Vitaliy Pushkar, plus former Hungarian champion András Hadak, not to mention several rapid Belgian drivers such as Chris van Woensel.
Reminder: tickets now on sale
Tickets for the Geko Ypres Rally are now on sale by visiting the official event website, www.ypresrally.com
M-Sport chief Wilson wants more ERC outings for new Fiesta R5
M-Sport head Malcolm Wilson wants the appearance of his company’s Ford Fiesta R5 on the Geko Ypres Rally to be the first of many in the FIA European Rally Championship.
Like Peugeot Sport, M-Sport will run its new R5-specification challenger as a course car on the Belgium round just days before it becomes eligible for competition use on 1 July under the terms of the homologation process.
“I would like to run an M-Sport team in the ERC and this car would be ideal for it,” said Wilson. “We’d like to provide a complete back-up for our customers and if we could get a funded programme in place then all the customers will benefit. It’s something we’d like to try to do from Rally Poland onwards.”
M-Sport formally launched its Fiesta R5 at its United Kingdom headquarters on Tuesday evening (11 June) where Wilson said: “It’s this car I am probably the most excited about, not just because of what these guys have produced but the R5 technical regulations will really take rallying to the step where it needs to be. The FIA have done such a good job in controlling price and you’ve got to use standard parts.”
Breen, Andreucci relish 208 T16 runs
Star drivers Paolo Andreucci and Craig Breen have tested Peugeot’s FIA European Rally Championship-bound 208 T16 on asphalt and liked what they saw.
Andreucci and Breen took part in a five-day development test in the Maures mountains in southern France earlier this month, which has provided Peugeot Sport engineers with a significant amount of varied information and data through contrasting driving styles of the two pilots.
“This was my first time in the Peugeot 208 T16, and I must say I felt perfectly at home in it at once,” said multiple Italian champion and Peugeot stalwart Andreucci. “The basic car is very good and it responds immediately to set-up modifications. They produce the expected effect and that is the sign of a sound chassis. The test stages were a challenge, especially for the dampers, but it didn’t take long to find an efficient set-up. I can’t wait to drive it on an actual event.”
Breen, a frontrunner in this year’s ERC with three podiums to his name, said: “It was very interesting to be the first person to drive the Peugeot 208 T16 on asphalt. It certainly feels competitive. Personally, though, I will need to accustom myself with the turbo which is a big change compared with the Peugeot 207 S2000, especially on asphalt. Everything about the car is new and, the more we work on it, the more we realise how much potential it really has.”
Four up for ERC Ladies’ Trophy in Ypres
Interest in the new-for-2013 FIA ERC Ladies’ Trophy continues to grow with four drivers set to chase class honours on the Geko Ypres Rally.
Melissa Debackere (pictured), Julie Devalot, Ekaterina Stratieva and Molly Taylor are all set to take part on the Belgian asphalt classic, which takes place from 27-29 June.
After four events, Bulgarian Stratieva tops the standings ahead of Australia’s Taylor. Debackere and Devalot are new to the competition.