ERC A FULL 2014
ERC GLORY FOR FAST FREDDY LOIX IN YPRES
*Belgian legend claims ninth victory as Abbring stars
*Lefebvre lands last-gasp ERC Junior win tied on time with Crugnola
*Lappi holds European championship advantage despite crashing
22 June 2014
DAY REPORT: 2014 FIA European Rally Championship, round six of 11
Geko Ypres Rally
Leg two, Saturday 21 June
Freddy Loix is one victory away from making it 10 Geko Ypres Rally wins following a dramatic climax to Belgium’s FIA European Rally Championship qualifier, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in glorious sunshine today and with thousands of fans lining the challenging route.
The nine-time winner started Saturday’s final leg trailing Kevin Abbring by 24.8 seconds but moved in front when the Dutchman retired his Peugeot 208T16 with a mechanical failure on stage 13 across the border in France. And Loix, whose ŠKODA Fabia Super 2000 was co-driven by fellow Belgian Johan Gitsels, marked his win – the fifth for ŠKODA in Ypres – by confirming that he will return to the Tarmac spectacular next year to bid for a 10th triumph.
“It’s incredible and I think it will take a long time before someone else will do this,” said Loix. “I was really missing the battle with Kevin this afternoon because it was a pleasure to fight for tenths of a second with Kevin and the other drivers rather than just controlling the final six stages. But I’m very happy and the target is to come back to try to win for a 10th time. Then it could be time to stop and give the young boys who pushed me a lot this weekend a chance to win.”
Abbring gained some consolation by landing the prestigious Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy for his charging display and nine stage wins. “I’m still proud of my performance on my first time here in a four-wheel-drive car and I’ve gained some confidence for the future,” said the Dutchman. “It’s a shame we retired but I’ve driven without mistakes and the car has been fantastic. I really appreciated the fight with Freddy and I was still able to enjoy the rally.”
Elsewhere, it was a double first for Belgium’s Cédric Cherain, who scored his maiden ERC podium and his first in Ypres in second place in a Ford Fiesta R5, with Sepp Wiegand finishing as the best Ypres rookie in third for ŠKODA AUTO Deutschland on his first ERC start since he finished second on April’s Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland Rally. Hermen Kobus finished fourth with triple European champion Luca Rossetti taking fifth after he battled back from his dramatic trip into a ditch on Friday, which was caused when he picked up a puncture striking a rock.
Meanwhile, the ERC Junior Championship produced a breath-taking final-stage showdown between Andrea Crugnola and Stéphane Lefebvre who finished the event tied on time following almost 300 kilometres of serious competition. Lefebvre took the victory due to the fact he was fastest in class on the opening stage although it could have been a different story when the bonnet of his Peugeot 208 R2 flew open at the first corner and he drove through the closing 27.56-kilometre stage relying on co-driver Thomas Dubois’ pacenotes after his vision was obscured.
In the race for the coveted ERC title, Esapekka Lappi continues to head Craig Breen in the standings despite a car-wrecking crash on stage nine. The Finn and co-driver Janne Ferm were taken to hospital for precautionary checks but were later given the all clear. Breen also retired after myriad technical issues struck his 208T16. Lappi’s lead over Breen is now 33 points at the halfway point in the season, while his solitary stage win ensures he still tops the ERC Asphalt Masters.
Former Super 2000 world champion Xevi Pons retired his Fiesta R5 in a ditch on stage nine, while Pieter Tsjoen’s hopes of a top 10 finish ended in a ditch on stage 16. Neil Simpson was in the top 10 when he went off the road on stage 14. Antonín Tlusťák rolled into retirement on stage 11 but Melissa Debackere battled to the finish in ninth amid fears an overheating engine would force her exit. Jaroslav Orsák completed the top 10 by two-tenths of a second, while a persistent fuel system problem prevented Vincent Verschueren from giving the Citroën DS3 R5 a debut ERC finish.
ERC Production Car Cup: Lefevere dominates
Not even a puncture could prevent Andy Lefevere (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X R4) from landing ERC Production Car Cup honours for a second year running as the Belgian driver fought back to secure a dominant win ahead of Hungary’s András Hadik (Subaru Impreza R4 STI) in a repeat of last season’s result. Tibor Érdi Jr made up for the disappointment of retiring from the Production Car Cup lead on the Acropolis Rally by claiming second place. Filip Pyck finished fourth with Martin Hudec snatching fifth and the championship lead from title rival Vitaliy Pushkar on the final stage after the Ukrainian’s Lancer suffered a loss of brakes at the stage start. He finished sixth.
ERC 2WD Championship: Demaerschalk shines
Kevin Demaerschalk underlined his reputation as one of Belgium’s rising star drivers by claiming a comfortable ERC 2WD success. ERC Junior runners Stéphane Lefebvre and Andrea Crugnola were second and third respectively. Portugal’s Renato Pita finished 16th with Max Vatanen 18th. However, Jukka Korhonen was not so lucky after he retired on stage 14 with broken wheel studs.
ERC Junior Championship: Lefebvre wins to close on Černy
The thrilling battle for victory between Stéphane Lefebvre and Andrea Crugnola aside, Chris Ingram snatched the final podium spot when Marijan Griebel’s Opel ADAM suffered a broken driveshaft starting the last stage after the German had completed several stages with no powersteering. Ingram had problems of his own with a brake and differential issues holding him back in the early running. Jan Černý still leads the championship standings but his advantage over Lefebvre is down to just one point after he rolled into retirement on stage 20. RACB National Team driver Gino Bux overcame a puncture to finish fourth with Fabio Andolfi fifth, Stephen Wright sixth and Alex Parpottas seventh. Guillaume Dilley was leading when he went off into a ditch on Saturday’s opener. Aleks Zawada was heading for a podium finish but retired on stage 13.
Neuville given starring role in Ypres
Hyundai Shell World Rally Team driver Thierry Neuville was a guest of ERC promoter Eurosport Events in Ypres. And Neuville used his visit to his home round of the championship to host a question and answer session with the ERC Junior drivers and co-drivers. He also provided expert commentary for Eurosport’s coverage of the asphalt event and met fans at an autograph session.
WATCH INSIDE ERC ON EUROSPORT: TUESDAY 24 JUNE, 21:00hrs-21:30hrs CET
TOP 10 POSITIONS (after 20 stages, 294.79 kilometres)
1 Freddy Loix (BEL)/Johan Gitsels (BEL) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 2h43m13.7s
2 Cédric Cherain (BEL)/André Leyh (BEL) Ford Fiesta R5 +1m09.9s
3 Sepp Wiegand (DEU)/Frank Christian (DEU) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +2m14.2s
4 Hermen Kobus (NLD)/Erik De Wild (NLD) Ford Fiesta S2000 +2m32.5s
5 Luca Rossetti (ITA)/Matteo Chiarcossi (ITA) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +3m44.5s
6 Davy Vanneste (BEL)/Eddy Snaet (BEL) Peugeot 207 S2000 +5m25.4s
7 Andy Lefevere (BEL)/Andy Vangheluwe (BEL) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X R4 +6m11.5s
8 Didier Duquesne (BEL)/Filip Cuvelier (BEL) Ford Fiesta R5 +6m53.2s
9 Melissa Debackere (BEL)/Cindy Cokelaere (BEL) Peugeot 207 S2000 +6m59.7s
10 Jaroslav Orsák (CZE)/David Šmeidler (CZE) ŠKODA Fabia S2000 +9m01.4s
FIA ERC Production Car Cup: Andy Lefevere (BEL)/Andy Vangheluwe (BEL) Lancer Evo X R4
FIA ERC 2WD Championship: Kevin Demaerschalk (BEL)Bram Eelbode (BEL) Peugeot 208 R2
ERC Junior Championship: Stéphane Lefebvre (FRA)/Thomas Dubois (FRA) Peugeot 208 R2
ERC Asphalt Master: Freddy Loix (BEL)
ERC Ladies Trophy: Melissa Debackere (BEL)
Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy: Kevin Abbring (NED)
Day one (Friday 20 June, 104.77 kilometres):
SS1: Dikkebus 1 (14.22kms): Abbring/PC: Lefevere/2WD: Lefebvre/Junior: Lefebvre
SS2: Wijtschate 1 (23.80kms): Abbring/Lefevere/Lefebvre/Lefebvre
SS3: Mesen 1 (7.48kms): Abbring/Hadik/Demaerschalk/Crugnola
SS4: Langemark (13.77kms): Loix/Lefevere/Lefebvre/Lefebvre
SS5: Dikkebus 2 (14.22kms): Abbring/Lefevere/Lefebvre/Lefebvre
SS6: Wijtschate 2 (23.80kms): Abbring/Lefevere/Demaerschalk/Zawada
SS7: Mesen 2 (7.48kms): Abbring/Lefevere/Lefebvre/Lefebvre
Day two (Saturday 21 June, 190.02 kilometres):
SS8: Reninge 1 (14.50kms): Lappi/Lefevere/Demaerschalk/Crugnola
SS9: Vleteren-Krombeke 1 (14.17kms): Breen/Hadik/Demaerschalk/Lefebvre
SS10: Watou 1 (12.32kms): Loix/Lefevere/Demaerschalk/Lefebvre
SS11: Westouter 1 (7.25kms): Loix/Lefevere/Demaerschalk/Lefebvre
SS12: Kemmelberg 1 (14.33kms): Abbring/Lefevere/Lefebvre/Lefebvre
SS13: Lille-Eurométropole (9.76kms): Abbring/Lefevere/Heuninck/Crugnola
SS14: Hollebeke 1 (27.56kms): Rossett/Lefevere/Demaerschalk/Crugnola
SS15: Reninge 2 (14.50kms): Casier/Lefevere/Lefebvre/Lefebvre
SS16: Vleteren-Krombeke 2 (14.17kms): Rossetti/Lefevere/Lefebvre/Lefebvre
SS17: Watou 2 (12.32kms): Loix and Wiegand/Lefevere/Lefebvre/Lefebvre
SS18: Westouter 2 (7.25kms): Rossetti/Lefevere/Lefebvre/Lefebvre
SS19: Kemmelberg 2 (14.33kms): Cherain/Hadik/Lefebvre/Lefebve
SS20: Hollebeke 2 (27.56kms): Tsjoen/Hadik/Demaerschalk/Ingram
ERC rally wins in 2014: Lappi 2, Breen, Kubica, Loix and Sousa 1.
ERC stage wins in 2014: Lappi 18; Abbring 14; Breen 12; Kubica 8; Kajetanowicz 7; Bouffier, Pech and Wiegand 6; Loix and Sousa 4; Rossetti 3; Gryazin and Moura 2; Baumschlager, Casier, Cherain, S Moffett, Plangi, Tarabus and Tsjoen 1.
Go to www.fiaerc.com for the championship positions following round six of 11.
auto24 Rally Estonia (Estonia), 17-19 July 2014: An ERC newcomer, auto24 Rally Estonia is big on fast, smooth gravel stages with crests commonplace. Based in Otepää in the south of the country. More information: Rallyestonia.com Contact: Margus Kiiver, firstname.lastname@example.org, +372 56 641 068.
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