Loix takes 11th Ypres Rally win, as Bouffier/Lefebvre hit trouble

Long-time World Rally Championship driver Freddy Loix took a record-extending 11th victory on the European series' Ypres Rally despite opposition from Bryan Bouffier and Stephane Lefebvre

Loix takes 11th Ypres Rally win, as Bouffier/Lefebvre hit trouble

Both Citroen WRC junior Lefebvre and 2011 Monte Carlo Rally winner Bouffier had to drop out with gearbox problems after battling Loix for the lead, meaning Kris Princen and Bernd Casier completed an all-Belgian podium.

Bouffier led the opening day in his Citroen DS3 R5, but was overhauled by Skoda driver Loix on Saturday's first stage.

He stayed in touch before having to park on the way to SS12 with a gear selection problem.

Lefebvre steadily moved into contention after a pre-rally engine change caused him to miss Thursday's qualifying stage and left him with an unfavourable running order position for day one.

He got within 5.3 seconds of Loix heading into Saturday evening but had a gearbox failure with three stages to go.

Lefebvre will return to WRC action with Citroen's PH Sport-run interim programme in Poland next week, where he and Craig Breen will represent the team together for the first time without lead driver Kris Meeke.

Citroen is keen to assess both Lefebvre and Breen's potential for drives in its returning works team in 2017.

Lefebvre's exit gave Loix, co-driven by Johan Gitsels, a clear run at an 11th Ypres win and fourth in a row - on the 20th anniversary of his maiden triumph there.

With ERC rules allowing drivers not to contest the full season as only their best seven scores count, championship leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz skipped Ypres.

Main rival Alexey Lukyanuk had a chance to erase his 15-point deficit to the reigning champion but crashed on the opening stage.

Ypres Rally manager Alain Penasse told Autosport before the event that he was seriously considering whether it should remain part of a series he felt was going "backwards and backwards and backwards".

He was concerned that only independent Ford drivers Kajetanowicz and Lukyanuk are chasing the title with the works Peugeot and Skoda operations gone.

LEADING FINISHERS AFTER SS17:

-

LEADING CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

Pos Driver Points
1 Kajetan Kajetanowicz 92
2 Alexey Lukyanuk 77
3 Ralfs Sirmacis 41
4 Freddy Loix 38
4 Craig Breen 38
6 Ricardo Moura 37
7 Jaromir Tarabus 33
8 Kris Princen 28
9 Lambros Athanassoulas 27
10 Wojciech Chuchala 26

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