British Rally Championship could add Ypres to 2017 calendar

The British Rally Championship is in advanced talks to add Belgium's iconic Ypres Rally to its calendar for 2017

British Rally Championship could add Ypres to 2017 calendar

Meetings have begun between Ben Taylor, head of BRC promoter IMS, and Ypres Rally manager Alan Penasse, whose event is currently part of the European championship.

"I had a coffee with Ben in Sardinia and we started to talk about the BRC going outside the island," said Penasse.

"I was saying the BRC would be most welcome on our rally in Ypres.

"I think they considered this, but I don't know if they are sure or not if a rally can run outside of Britain.

"For the moment we are all thinking about it, it's a nice championship, but it's up to the people in England [BRC organisers] to decide if they want to do this."

Penasse recently questioned whether Ypres would stay within the ERC next year. He pointed to the withdrawal of Peugeot and Skoda's works efforts and said that the championship needs more top-line teams.

The highest ERC regular on last weekend's Ypres Rally was Jaromir Tarabus in seventh.

The BRC is keeping options open for the 2017 calendar - expected to be finalised by the end of July - with Ypres being strongly considered.

"We have to balance sporting and promotional issues, as well as being mindful of our competitors and their budgets," said Taylor.

"But Ypres is a very prestigious and aspirational event and if we could make it work, then it would certainly be an exciting possibility."

The impact of increased costs for competitors is being considered, with the potential addition of a second dropped score to the current points format for the benefit of teams not willing to head to Ypres.

The biggest hurdle could come from date clashes, with the RSAC Scottish Rally expected to be on the same weekend as Ypres again next year.

Brit Seb Marshall - who co-drove on the Ypres event for the Kevin Abbring in the new Hyundai i20 R5 - believes Ypres offers a challenge that the three current asphalt BRC rounds cannot.

"The real challenge of Ypres is it's so quick," said Marshall.

"Everyone who did the rally this weekend will tell you it's such a challenge - the surface is always changing; knowing how to approach the cuts.

"It's totally different to anything in the UK.

"If you think of the impressive Tarmac events Ypres is one that stands out. For the BRC it would be a real marquee event."

Last weekend Elfyn Evans opened up a 20-point lead in the BRC after four rounds thanks to a dominant victory in Scotland.

Erstwhile championship leader Fredrik Ahlin suffered a broken propshaft on the event's fourth stage.

For the full story of the BRC/Ypres discussions - including our rally writers' contrasting verdicts on the possibility - see this week's issue of our sister publication Motorsport News, in shops now

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