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GP Week : Issue 122
Forty year-old Belgian driver Freddy Loix won the Ypres Rally for the seventh time at the weekend, leading from start to finish, beating Monte Carlo winner Bryan Bouffier, pulling clear of challengers who suffered a high rate of attrition. The rally counted for both the IRC championship, in which Loix has now taken the lead after five rounds, and the European series, where Michal Solowow gained maximum points but Luca Rossetti pulls further ahead. An important result was veteran Patrick Snijers’ fifth place in his Mini S2000, the first major rally in which a New Generation S2000, albeit with a 30mm restrictor, was matched against established Old Generation S2000 cars. Punctures were suffered by virtually everyone and had a major effect on the results on this asphalt event in which corner cutting is essential for speed. The antipicated objective of 30 Super 2000 cars on the start line did not quite materialise, and then Jan Kopecky withdrew after a heavy accident in Shakedown in which co-driver Petr Stary had injured his shoulder. Skoda driver Freddy Loix, the old man of Ypres rallying, was quickest at 2m44.5s followed by three Peugeots (Bouffier, Neuville and Wilks) while significant times were those of Patrick Snijers, 12th fastest, and Jasper van der Heuvel, 13th, fastest R4 car. Both were about 1 second a kilometre slower than the fastest Old Generation S2000 cars. Another important time was made by Kris Princen in the two-wheel drive Renault Megane N4 car, fifth fastest in class, five seconds slower than the Evo X of Romain. Snijers was not registered in either the IRC or the ERC and was made to run some 30 cars after the leaders. The rally was familiar, using the maze of asphalt farm roads around the city of Ypres, with a couple of stages over the border in neighbouring France The first stage saw the end of the challenge of the one driver expected seriously to challenge Loix, young Belgian Thierry Neuville. He cut a left-hand bend in the usual way, but this time the inside edge of the road was damaged, and his outer wheel broke. He struggled on to find a place to pull over and the hub collapsed. Guy Wilks gave chase and held second place while Loix made best time every stage. Another immediate casualty was Mikkelsen who slid wide into a ditch and impacted a culvert as he struggled to drive back to the road. Bouffier was lying third but had a couple of spins and finished the day behind Pieter Tsjoen. An early retirement was Bruno Magalhaes with engine failure. Loix headed Wilks at the end of the short Day 1 by 36.7s, while Snijers finished the day in eighth place 1m50s behind Loix after 95km of stages. Kevin Abbring led Class 5 in his Citroen DS3 R3T while in Class 3 the Lifein the old dog yet 50