Freddy Loix completed a dominant victory on the Ypres Rally, the fifth round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. It was the Belgian driver's seventh victory on the event, and it moves him back into the lead of the championship standings.
The Skoda driver won all six stages on Friday to enter the second and final day, which was made up of twelve stages, with a lead of 36 seconds. He was able to extend this lead to 1m41s over Saturday's stages, of which he won just three.
His nearest rival at the start of Saturday's action had been Peugeot UK's Guy Wilks, but a double puncture on SS10 lost him five minutes and dropped him to 11th overall. He was able to recover to finish fifth, despite another puncture in the evening.
This allowed Bryan Bouffier to finish in second place in his PH-run Peugeot. He had been fighting with local driver Pieter Tsjoen until the Belgian damaged his Kronos Peugeot's radiator in a bizarre road section incident. He had stopped at the side of the road for a short break but managed to hit a metal post as he pulled away.
Hans Weijs finished an impressive third on his S2000 debut, albeit nearly four minutes down on Loix. The former Junior World Rally Championship contender had been fighting with the similar Skoda of Bernd Casier until the Belgian suffered power steering failure on SS14.
Michal Solowow made it home in fourth in his Ford Fiesta, overcoming a sticking throttle late on, with Wilks taking fifth place from Karl Kruuda on the final stage.
Toni Gardemeister finished seventh but would have been higher up on his Ypres debut had it not been for a puncture, with Luca Rossetti finishing eighth after a spin and two punctures on Saturday alone.
Bernhard ten Brinke was ninth, just ahead of fellow privateer Skoda driver Robert Barrable. The Irishman had been running seventh after SS2 until a spin dropped him to 17th.
Andreas Mikkelsen retired on SS1 after entering a ditch in his Skoda UK entry, but won four stages after restarting on Saturday morning. Thierry Neuville also retired on the opening stage after wheel damage, but retired again on Saturday with damaged suspension after hitting a rock.
Local drivers Jonas Langenakens and Kris Princen won the Production and 2WD categories in 13th and 17th overall respectively.
With Juho Hanninen not in attendance and Jan Kopecky crashing in shakedown, Loix now leads the standings by three points from Bouffier, with Hanninen a further nine behind. The next IRC round is Rally Azores on 14-16 July.
Final top ten positions after 18 stages:
|1||3||Freddy Loix||Skoda Motorsport||Skoda Fabia S2000||2:40:03.9|
|2||2||Bryan Bouffier||Peugeot France||Peugeot 207 S2000||+1:41.6|
|3||19||Hans Weijs||Wevers||Skoda Fabia S2000||+3:56.9|
|4||7||Michal Solowow||Cersanit||Ford Fiesta S2000||+6:06.8|
|5||12||Guy Wilks||Peugeot UK||Peugeot 207 S2000||+6:33.8|
|6||25||Karl Kruuda||ME3||Skoda Fabia S2000||+6:40.6|
|7||15||Toni Gardemeister||TGS||Skoda Fabia S2000||+6:57.4|
|8||1||Luca Rossetti||National Proklama||Fiat Grande Punto||+7:25.0|
|9||27||Bernhard Ten Brinke||Wevers||Skoda Fabia S2000||+7:37.3|
|10||30||Robert Barrable||Evolution||Skoda Fabia S2000||+7:53.8|