History will be made on round six of the FIA European Rally Championship when the Geko Ypres Rally becomes the first all-asphalt event to include a qualifying stage.
The move, which the FIA Rally Commission approved at a meeting on 24 May, will add a new and exciting dimension to the traditional Ypres Rally shakedown stage held on the evening before the rally.
All upcoming Tarmac-based rounds of the ERC are now authorised to run a qualifying stage, which will be used to determine the starting order for the opening leg of an event.
Rally Poland pioneered the qualifying stage concept in the ERC last season with all loose-surface rounds adopting the format as standard for 2013.
Geko Ypres Rally manager, Alain Penasse said: “The decision from the FIA Rally Commission was a huge surprise for all of us. We understood immediately the thrilling boost this would give to our shakedown.
“Last year we got more than 5000 spectators on the four-kilometre stage. This option gives the Geko Ypres Rally organisers, and the organisers behind other Tarmac events, to add extra suspense to the rally as the shakedown is no longer just a test run but decides the starting grid for the crews.”
On the Geko Ypres Rally, FIA and ERC priority drivers (a maximum of 20 will be nominated) will get two runs of the shakedown stage from 19:00hrs CET on Thursday 27 June before the Qualifying Stage goes live at 20:00hrs.
The fastest driver will then be the first to select their starting position at a ceremony in the Ypres Rally Center from 13:00hrs on Friday 28 June with the second fastest driver next up and so on until all starting positions have been selected. The traditional Ypres shakedown for all other crews will begin at 20:30hrs on Thursday.