The Intercontinental Rally Challenge returns to mainland Europe this week and for the first time this season all seven IRC-registered manufacturers are due to take the start.

The Ypres Rally is one of the most historic and important events in Europe. The event is based in the historic town of Ypres, re-built brick-for-brick to its medieval splendour after its destruction in World War I.

The magnificent town square, with the town hall and museum dominating the landscape, acts as the central service area for the rally and contains the start-finish ramp.

This year will mark the 45th running of the Belgium Ypres Rally, which has been contested in the past by some of the greatest stars of the sport.

Peugeot UK enters the current championship leader Kris Meeke, the young British star who has taken back-to-back victories on gravel in Brazil and the Azores to stand two points clear of local hero Freddy Loix in the standings.

Defending champion, Frenchman Nicolas Vouilloz, lies third in the second Kronos-prepared Benelux Peugeot entry, just one point behind his team-mate Loix - the winner in Ypres last year.

A total of eight Peugeot 207 S2000s head the entry, joined by a Skoda Fabia S2000 for another great hero of Belgian rallying, Francois Duval, and a Volkswagen Polo S2000 for legendary Belgian rally ace, 51-year-old Patrick Snijers.

Abarth has also been strong in Belgium in the past, and the factory Italian team is hoping for more success this year with former European champion Giandomenico Basso and Belgian asphalt ace Bernd Casier, who has been brought in to replace Anton Alen for this event. Skoda's factory team will field Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky as usual.

Proton will be represented on the IRC for the first time, with an entry for rising British star Guy Wilks, while another star of the future, Thierry Neuville, has won the BFGoodrich Drivers' Team entry for Ypres.

Pieter Tsjoen has also been recently confirmed for his home event in a Peugeot 207 S2000.

They are joined by a host of entrants for the 2WD class in both Super 1600 and Group R machines, and as ever huge numbers of Group N 'showroom' spec Mitsubishi Lancers, such as the car driven by Franz Wittmann, which will doubtless bring further four-wheel drive spectacle.


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