Ypres - Peugeot Belgium-Luxemburg - Finish
A Kronos Racing-prepared car again won the laurels at the Belgium Ypres Rally for its 2009 edition, but it was not one of the Peugeot Belgium-Luxemburg cars: the honours this year went to a just as deserving Kris Meeke, driving
a 207 S2000 bearing Peugeot UK colours.
However, the battle for victory was an intense challenge necessitating constant flat-out efforts from both Meeke and Peugeot Belux driver Freddy Loix, who completed the IRC's fifth round in third position overall.
"From one end to the other, the battle between Kris and ourselves was extraordinarily intense," said a smiling Loix. "The gap between us never reached ten seconds. Five stages from the end, I was still in the lead... by two tenths of a second."
With the battle so close, the smallest mistake from either crew would quickly tip in the other's favour.
"I was the first to commit an error," admitted Loix.
The Belgian went a bit wide heading into a curve during SS13 and raced into gravel by the roadside: "There must have been a rock because I punctured immediately."
Falling down to fourth in the standings, Loix reached third position on the final stage after Juho Hanninen also punctured.
However, it was Loix's earlier mishap which offered a definite chance of victory to Meeke, who was attacking the Ypres Rally for the very first time.
"I warmly congratulate Kris and Paul (Nagle) for their success," volunteered Freddy Loix, a five-time winner at Ypres. "For their first participation in this rally, what they accomplished is simply exceptional. A new generation is establishing itself."
"However, I'm disappointed for Nicolas Vouilloz. He really didn't deserve what happened to him," the Belgian added.
On Day Two, Peugeot Belux teammate Vouilloz got caught behind a competitor's car struggling with a punctured tyre. In trying to pass him, the reigning IRC champion slid off the road and into a ditch, forcing his retirement from the event.
Vouilloz was not overly upset at the situation since his objectives in Belgium had aleready changed focus.
"Anyway, my hopes for victory had vanished the day before when I had an off on the first stage," the Frenchman remarked, already looking forward to the next event: July's Rally Russia, sixth round of the season."