ERC Ypres Rally: Freddy Loix inherits ninth home win
Freddy Loix took a dramatic ninth win on the Ypres Rally as the other major players in the fight for victory capitulated on the last day
Loix had looked to have been beaten by Peugeot works driver Kevin Abbring, who led day one, but the Dutchman's run of bad luck resurfaced and he retired on the road section between the Lille-Eurometropole and Hollebeke stages with an engine issue.
Loix inherited a huge 1m16.2s lead when Abbring retired, and he managed that perfectly to the end of the rally, even setting a fastest time on the second run through Watou in his Skoda Fabia S2000.
Abbring's team-mate Craig Breen also suffered trouble on the last day, after a handbrake issue slowed him on stage 12 and a differential problem ended his rally on stage 13 as the rally headed into France.
Championship leader Esapekka Lappi had faltered before Abbring and Breen, as he hit a pole on the Vleteren-Krombeke test, blocking the road and forcing the stage to be neutralised in the process.
With all the retirements, Cedric Cherain rose to second in his Ford Fiesta R5, after finishing day one in fourth. The Belgian made it a local one-two with Loix, and much like his compatriot, managed the final day perfectly to secure second.
Sepp Wiegand scored a valuable podium as the highest finishing European Rally Championship regular, and the Skoda driver makes up points on Lappi and Breen in the points standings.
A 10-second penalty for Wiegand sent the battle for the podium down to the final stage, but eventual fourth placed man Hermen Kobus was unable to overturn Wiegand after making a mistake on Hollebeke in his Fiesta R5, settling for fourth.
Leading finishers after SS20:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Freddy Loix Munster Skoda 2h43m13.7s 2. Cedric Cherain J-Motorsport Ford +1m09.9s 3. Sepp Wiegand Skoda +2m14.2s 4. Hermen Kobus Kobus Ford +2m32.5s 5. Luca Rossetti DP Skoda +3m44.5s 6. Davy Vanneste Duindistel Peugeot +5m25.4s 7. Andy Lefevere Lefevere Mitsubishi +6m11.5s 8. Didier Duquesne Atlantic Ford +6m53.2s 9. Melissa Debackere Duindistel Peugeot +6m59.7s 10. Jaroslav Orsak Orsak Skoda +9m01.4s
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