Freddy Loix claimed a dramatic win on the European Rally Championship Ypres Rally as the Peugeot of Kevin Abbring, who led from day one, retired.
Loix, who claimed his ninth Ypres Rally win, had been running behind works driver Abbring for the whole rally. But the Dutchman suffered a turn of bad luck on the road section between Lille-Eurometropole and Hollebeke stages with an engine issue.
Speaking to ERC Rally Radio, Abbring said: “We won two stages (this afternoon), it was promising but I don’t know what to say. We were so close to the victory and we can’t finish it.”
“I just hope people appreciate what I did this weekend. I think we really deserved the victory and for the moment there’s nothing or nobody to blame. I have to be pleased with the ob everyone is doing in the team – it would have been the perfect win for me.”
Loix made the most of inheriting a lead of 1m16.2s from Abbring but expressed his sympathy for his rivals misfortune.
“To be honest it’s very disappointing,” said Loix. “We had a fantastic fight and until now, overall, he was just a little bit quicker. Now I am again in the front and I can only make mistakes so I control the race. But I feel very sad for Kevin and also for Peugeot.”
Abbring’s Peugeot team-mate Craig Breen also had a troublesome day. After suffering handbrake issues on SS12 his rally came to an end on the following stage with a broken differential that left him in rear-wheel-drive mode only.
“It’s not my weekend,” said Breen. “It’s a new car so you have to expect problems. That is just the way it is sometimes. Every time I brake it locks the rear wheels.”
Championship leader Esapekka Lappi also faltered on day two. The current leader was running in thrid place before his Skoda Fabia Super 2000 hit a post at the side of the road, blocking it in the process. This resulted in the stage being neutralised.
With many of the main front runners hitting problems, drivers such as Cedric Cherain were able to capitalise on their misfortunes. The Belgian was able to secure second at his home rally after a calculated drive on day two.
Sepp Wiegand completed the podium in third, his second in two ERC events after he seen off the late challenge of Hermen Kobus. This podium helped Wiegand make up valuable points on Lappi and Breen in the battle for the title.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Freddy Loix Munster Skoda 2h43m13.7s
2. Cedric Cherain J-Motorsport Ford +1m09.9s
3. Sepp Wiegand Skoda +2m14.2s
4. Hermen Kobus Kobus Ford +2m32.5s
5. Luca Rossetti DP Skoda +3m44.5s
6. Davy Vanneste Duindistel Peugeot +5m25.4s
7. Andy Lefevere Lefevere Mitsubishi +6m11.5s
8. Didier Duquesne Atlantic Ford +6m53.2s
9. Melissa Debackere Duindistel Peugeot +6m59.7s
10. Jaroslav Orsak Orsak Skoda +9m01.4s