The fifth round of the 2015 European Rally Championship took place on the sweeping tarmac roads of the Kenotek Ypres Rally, in Belgium. Based around the town of Ieper, the crews tackled seventeen stages that would test the drivers’ abilities on asphalt. After a thrilling battle between several cars for the win, it was home hero and ex-WRC driver Freddy Loix who claimed victory in the new Skoda Fabia R5, the car’s first in the ERC. His winning margin in the end was nearly half a minute from another WRC podium finisher, Bryan Bouffier, with Loix’s countryman Vincent Verschueren taking the final place on the podium.

The first day of action comprised of seven stages and at just 83 km in competitive mileage it was only half the distance of the following day. However there was still action aplenty. The Flying Dutchman Kevin Abbring was quickest out of the blocks on the first couple of stages but a front puncture dropped him down the leader board on stage 4. He retired from the rally two stages later after rolling his Citroen DS3. That left ERC championship leader Craig Breen to claim the lead but he only had an advantage of 4.6 seconds over Bouffier. Stephane Lefebvre had a solid drive to an overnight third place and was just over ten seconds off the leader. Kris Princen was the highest placed Belgian in fourth, ahead of his countrymen, Loix, Bernd Casier and Verschueren. Romain Dumas was the highest placed Porsche driver in a solid ninth overall. Hungarian Tibor Erdi led in ERC 2 ahead of his only competitor Vojtech Stajf. Marijan Griebel led a trio of Opel Adams that comprised of Emil Bergkvist and Aleksander Zawada.

The second and final day was a much tougher test for the crews, with 10 stages standing between them and the finish. It proved to be a brutal day for some of the top runners, including overnight leader Breen. The Irishman would go on to lose the rally lead to Bouffier on stage 11 thanks to a front right puncture and on the following stage went off the road and into a field. The excursion blocked the radiator and forced his retirement, thus denying him a chance to extend his championship lead. Breen wasn’t the only leading car in trouble; Lefebvre suffered two punctures and lost over three minutes, whilst Casier crashed out on the same stage from fifth overall. That left Bouffier and Loix to battle it out to the finish but that fight was decided on stage 15 when the Frenchman became the latest to pick up a puncture on the abrasive tarmac. That left Loix to cruise to the finish whilst Bouffier recovered to claim second ahead of Verschueren.

Portuguese driver Bruno Magalhaes made up six places over the course of the day to take fourth but there was late heartbreak for Dumas’ Porsche, who suffered mechanical problems on the penultimate stage of the rally. Lefebvre eventually finished fifth ahead of Czech drivers Jaroslav Orsak and Jaromir Tarabus. Martin McCormack was the highest placed British driver in eighth with Davy Vanneste and Petter Kristiansen completing the top 10. Erdi remained ahead of Stajf to claim the victory in ERC 2 whilst a last stage surge from Zawada took him past Griebel for class honours in ERC 3.

The results of Ypres made little impression on the overall championship, with Magalhaes and Loix moving up to fifth and sixth respectively. More crucial was Craig Breen’s retirement which meant his lead in the championship remained at 21 points over Kajetan Kajetanowicz.

Final Classifications – Kenotek Ypres Rally 2015

Pos. Driver Name Co-Driver Name Car Time/Diff
1 F. Loix J. Gitsels Skoda Fabia R5 2:22:29.9
2 B. Bouffier T. de la Haye Citroen DS3 R5 +27.5
3 V. Verschueren V. Hostens Citroen DS3 R5 +1:02.5
4 B. Magalhaes H. Magalhaes Peugeot 208 T16 +1:53.1
5 S. Lefebvre S. Prevot Peugeot 208 T16 +2:01.9
6 J. Orsak D. Smeidler Skoda Fabia S2000 +2:20.8
7 J. Tarabus D. Trunkat Skoda Fabia S2000 +3:25.0
8 M. McCormack J. O’Reilly Skoda Fabia S2000 +4:48.2
9 D. Vanneste E. Snaet Ford Fiesta R5 +5:58.3
10 P. Kristiansen O. Brennum Skoda Fabia S2000 +5:59.9

ERC 2 Classification

Pos. Driver Name Co-Driver Name Car Time/Diff
1 T. Erdi G. Patko Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2:32:09.0
2 V. Stajf F. Rajnoha Subaru Impreza STi +3:40.6

ERC 3 Classification

Pos. Driver Name Co-Driver Name Car Time/Diff
1 A. Zawada C. Derousseaux Opel Adam R2 2:32:48.5
2 M. Griebel S. Clemens Opel Adam R2 +11.2
3 J. Tannert J. Thielen Opel Adam R2 +1:25.6
4 G. Bux E. Borguet Peugeot 208 VTi R2 +1:47.3
5 R. Sirmacis A. Simins Peugeot 208 VTi R2 +5:11.7
6* P. Geusens J. Demeestere Ford Fiesta R2 +10:16.5
7* S. Varkonyi B. Csanyi Peugeot 208 VTi R2 +10:47.4
8 A. Molle R. Herman Ford Fiesta R2 +11:34.0

* Not eligible for ERC Junior Championship

Ypres Rally 2015 Logo

Drivers’ Championship After Round 5

Pos. Driver Name Ypres Points Overall Points
1 C. Breen 0 + 7 124
2 K. Kajetanowicz 103
3 R. Consani 55
4 A. Lukyanuk 43
5 B. Magalhaes 12 + 5 38
6 F. Loix 25 + 10 35
7 J. Tarabus 6 + 2 34
8 S. Plangi 28
9 B. Bouffier 18 + 10 28
10 D. Butvilas 27

ERC

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