ERC Ypres: Kevin Abbring upstages Freddy Loix on day one

Peugeot's Kevin Abbring upstaged the locals to take control of day one of the European Rally Championship's Ypres Rally

ERC Ypres: Kevin Abbring upstages Freddy Loix on day one

The Dutchman was quickest on six of Friday's stages, and quickly established an edge over eight-time Ypres winner and former factory World Rally Championship driver Freddy Loix's Skoda.

A quick trip off the road for Loix on the second run through Dikkebus meant he ended the evening 24.8 seconds behind Abbring.

Loix insisted he was much happier having to push hard to chase someone than when he had easily dominated his home rally at times in the past.

Abbring's team-mate Craig Breen feared for his ERC title hopes if he did not win Ypres, but his rally got off to an awful start.

A puncture on the opening stage caused brake damage, leaving him one and a half minutes off the lead in 13th place after the first loop.

Even after that was fixed at service, Breen struggled to get up to speed, feeling both his set-up and driving style were inadequate. Although now back up to seventh, he is two minutes adrift of Abbring already.

Championship leader Esapekka Lappi runs third on his Ypres debut, ahead of local driver Cedric Cherain, who was second following SS1.

Luca Rossetti had briefly picked up second when Loix made his Dikkebus error, but on the following Wijtschate stage the Italian clouted a big rock, picked up a puncture and then went into a ditch, costing him four minutes and all hope of a win.

The second and final day of the rally comprises another 13 stages, finishing around 10pm local time on Saturday.

Leading positions after SS7: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Kevin Abbring Sainteloc Peugeot 56m30.7s 2. Freddy Loix Munster Skoda +24.8s 3. Esapekka Lappi Skoda +39.1s 4. Cedric Cherain Ardennes Ford +53.8s 5. Sepp Wiegand Skoda +1m32.0s 6. Hermen Kobus Kobus Ford +1m33.2s 7. Craig Breen Sainteloc Peugeot +1m58.9s 8. Davy Vanneste Duindistel Peugeot +2m40.8s 9. Neil Simpson Simpsons Skoda +2m45.4s 10. Xevi Pons ACSM Ford +2m48.1s 
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