Ypres - BFGoodrich - Finish
Following his previous successes this year in Brazil and the Azores, Britain's Kris Meeke made it three IRC wins on the trot this weekend at the wheel of his Peugeot 207 S2000/BFGoodrich. Jan Kopecky (Skoda/BFGoodrich) finished second ahead of
Freddy Loix (Peugeot/BFGoodrich) who was third. BFGoodrich's runners used the A03 (soft compound) and A11 (medium) tyres.
Thanks to his status as last year's winner, and also as the driver to have scored the highest number of wins in the history of the Belgium Ypres Rally, local star Freddy Loix was the clear favourite at the start of this year's event. It was therefore no surprise to see him emerge in front after SS2 before completing the opening leg in first place.
His cushion at the top seemed a little fragile, however, since Ypres novice Kris Meeke was breathing down his neck at the end of play on Friday evening – less than five seconds behind his Belgian rival – thanks to a score of three fastest times from the day's six stages.
Loix was acutely aware of the threat, and the order ended up changing the next day when Kris Meeke eased eight-tenths of a second clear at the top after SS12. Keen to assert his authority on home soil, the Belgian driver decided to respond by turning on the speed on the following test.
However, a broken rim sustained when cutting a corner a little over-optimistically saw him throw away his chances of claiming a record sixth win in Ypres.
The incident enabled Kris Meeke to cruise home to collect his third IRC win in a row and reinforce his lead at the top of the provisional Drivers' points table. The Briton was followed across the line by Jan Kopecky (Skoda/BFGoodrich) who once again pocketed second place, while the Czech driver's team-mate Juho Hanninen rounded off the top-five. Giandomenico Basso fell back three places to eighth overall on the final stage but nevertheless succeeded in saving Abarth/BFGoodrich's honour.
Despite the clear, dry weather, the Belgium Ypres Rally's slippery and dusty stages proved as treacherous as ever, and notably caused the downfall of François Duval (Skoda/BFGoodrich), who went off on the weekend's very first corner, and Nicolas Vouilloz (Peugeot/BFGoodrich), who suffered a series of setbacks.
The next round of the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge takes teams to the all-gravel Rally Russia on July 9-11.