Loix takes seventh win in Ypres

Freddy Loix maintained his impressive domination of the Ypres Rally to reclaim the IRC points lead.
Freddy Loix has maintained his comfortable overnight lead to win the GEKO Ypres Rally for a seventh time and moves back to the top of the IRC standings as a result.

Having led the Intercontinental Rally Challenge qualifier from start to finish, his victory at the wheel of a SKODA Motorsport Fabia Super 2000 also puts him joint top with Juho Hanninen in the list of all-time IRC event winners, with seven triumphs to his name.

Loix, who was co-driven by fellow Belgian Frederic Miclotte, was in control throughout the Belgian event. Not even rainfall prior to Saturday's opening test knocked him off his stride as he sped to a commanding victory by 1min 41.6secs over Peugeot France driver Bryan Bouffier. Hans Weijs claimed an impressive third on his debut behind the wheel of a Fabia and on his first start in this year's IRC.

"It was a strange rally because, although we had a big lead, we had to control that for two days, which was not so easy," Loix commented, "But, at the end, I am very happy with this victory - although it would have been better with a bigger fight."

Guy Wilks began day two in second overall and on a high aboard his Peugeot UK 207 after he set the fastest time on the day's first stage. But a double puncture on stage ten wrecked his hopes and dropped him to eleventh overall. Despite a slow puncture causing a spin on stage 15, and a further deflation on stage 16, holding him back, Wilks snatched fifth on the final stage with the fastest time.

"We're at the finish but we didn't get the result that mattered and that's a real shame," said Wilks, "The car was great although we didn't get the luck we needed. But there's no point thinking about it. We have to put it behind us and move on to the next rally."

Bouffier was the chief beneficiary of Wilks' downfall when he moved up to second overall, having overtaken Pieter Tsjoen for the final podium place on stage eight. While Bouffier enjoyed a trouble-free run to the finish, Tsjoen was not so fortunate following a bizarre incident on the road section heading to stage eleven. The six-time Belgian champion had stopped by the side of the road for a short break but inadvertently struck a small metal post as he pulled away, which damaged his Peugeot 207's radiator. Although he made it through the stage, he and co-driver Lara Vanneste were unable to stem a water leak despite frantic repairs and the advice of several rival crews.

"I needed a good result here and maybe second was more than my expectation coming to this rally because I knew it was a tricky race," Bouffier admitted, "My target was to finish so a podium is really fantastic."

With Tsjoen out, Dutchman Weijs was now third and embroiled in a close fight with Bernd Casier, which raged until stage 14 when the Belgian stopped with power steering failure. Weijs had only managed a two-hour test in his Fabia before the start and his determined performance earned him the prestigious Colin McRae IRC Flat Out Trophy, which is presented on all rounds of the IRC to the driver best embodying the spirit of the rally legend.

Tagged as: IRC , Ypres , Skoda , Freddy Loix

Related Pictures

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Freddy Loix [Pic credit: IRC]
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